Cass County Conservation District grants awards, eyes new focus

Published 9:46 am Thursday, January 24, 2019

]CASSOPOLIS — Early December brought the local Cass County Conservation District a new board of Directors, priority review and four Conservation Awardees.

At the annual meeting hosted last month, Director Bernie Williamson was newly elected, Scott Wyman was re-elected to his position and John Green accepted position as associate director. They join directors Dan Stutsman, Karen Nelson, Kevin Hershberger and Associate Directors Annie File and Jeff Blyveis.

This new board is busy reviewing and updating the Cass County Conservation District Plan of Work to ensure success in the district’s mission to enhance and protect the natural resources of Cass County, according to conservation district officials.

Annual meeting attendees were asked to identify something that should be protected, something that needs to be restored, and something needing more community education focus.

To become invovled, the public is invitied to participate in the district’s upcoming educational programs, tree sale or visit the Cassopolis office anytime to learn more about MAEAP-Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and how to identify and combat invasive species with assistance from the regional SW x SW CISMA.

Over the years Conservation Awards are given to deserving organizations and individuals that work hard to conserve shared natural resources, said officials. At the last meeting, four 2018 award winners honored:

• Conservationist of the Year: Ken Kesson/Michigan DNR SW Region

• Conservation Farmer: Kevin Hershberger

• Environmental Awareness Advocate: Ramona Moorman (posthumously)/Marcellus News

• Volunteer of the Year: Jeff Blyveis.

Ken Kesson/Michigan DNR SW Region was recognized for his dedication and passion to conservation leadership and creation of habitat through native plantings in Cass County. Projects include 145 oak savanna restoration, 60 acre tall-grass prairie restoration, protection and restoration of habitat for threatened and endangered species such as Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, Karner blue & Mitchell’s satyr butterflies and on-going work with the Private Landowner Program.

Kevin Hershberger was recognized for his performance and strong commitment to no-till and conservation-based farming. Hershberger and wife, Jill, own and operate Kelsey Lake Farms and have invested in no-till farming over the past 30 years. Last year they were able to boast yields of 268 bushels of corn per acre. They also utilize low-impact rotational grazing for twenty-five head of cattle and have continuously advocated for ecological based farming with others in the community through his role as a District Director and through the MAEAP program.

Marcellus News and (posthumously) Ramona Moormann were recognized for the ongoing commitment to inspire readers and stimulate their generation of a conscious commitment to a thriving, just and sustainable way of life on Earth, said district officials. The paper always includes sidebar PSAs which encourage making the world a better place and articles that address world/environmental issues while keeping their central hometown theme.

Jeff Blyveis was recognized for his dedication and support of conservation education and District programs. He logged at least 282 volunteer hours with activities such as promoting the District at community events such as Color Tour and Blue Gill Frolic, critically assisting with everything at the Tree Sale, sharing his compassion for wildlife at Hikes w/a Naturalists, and coordinating 43 other volunteers who all combined volunteered 678.5 hours for the District.

To see more details about each of these awardees visit our District Website at To contact the district, call (269) 445-8641 ext. 5.