Cass County Conservation district announces 2020 awards

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 2021

CASSOPOLIS — One area agency is making up for lost time by formally announcing awards from 2020.

The Cass County Conservation District recently announced its 2020 Conservation Awards. These awards are usually presented at the annual meeting, however, that meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards will be presented at the Aug. 25 MAEAP Field Day educational event. To attend, call the office at (269) 445-8641 ext. 5. The schedule is also available on the district’s Facebook page.

Awards include:
2020 Conservation Farmer of the Year — White Yarrow Farm

Dale Hasenick and his wife, Jo Beachy, have gardened and farmed together for 40 years. Hasenick grew up on a grain and dairy farm near Jackson, Michigan, where his passion and respect for farming began.

The couple’s approximately 6 acres of cultivated land is utilized for vegetable and cut flower production. White Yarrow Farm uses organic fertilizers, cover crops, natural minerals and compost to improve the soil. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides have been used on the land since it was purchased in 1995. Crop rotations — especially with potatoes and the cabbage family — help keep disease-pressure low, according to district officials.

The Community-Supported Agriculture aspect of marketing began in 2003, and White Yarrow Farm consistently has about 65 families signed up each year.

They have also sold a wide variety of vegetables and cut flowers at the Goshen Farmers’ Market since 2000.

The couple told Conservation District officials theyfeel that this direct marketing of high-value crops allows them economic space not to “plant hedgerow to hedgerow.”

The surrounding acreage with slopes that are less suitable for intensive cultivation is pasture for grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and occasionally some laying hens in a coop on wheels. They are currently researching ways to do less tilling, which is difficult for many small-seeded vegetable crops, so that their future CSA will be even more conservation conscience.


 2020 Wildlife Stewardship Award — Lake Milton Raptor Center

Darlene Brockman, her daughter, Aimee Pico, and their team of supporters, are the dedicated people behind Lake Milton Raptor Center.

Focusing on birds of prey, the nonprofit helps injured, ill, or orphaned wild birds in need of rehabilitation. The center is also committed to educating the public about the species they are assisting.

Lake Milton Raptor Center takes in all types of wild birds that are injured or orphaned. Staff work with local veterinarians to give the best care to the birds, with the goal of returning them to the wild.

Those birds that have suffered injuries that prevent them from being released into their natural habitats are sometimes used in their educational programs which offer a rare, close-up opportunity to interact with and learn about birds. The center teaches people of all ages to understand the needs of wild birds. This awareness supports better understanding, respect, and protection of the ecosystems where they live so the birds can thrive, said district officials.

The district congratulates the 2020 awardees and is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Conservation District awards, which will be presented at the Dec. 7 annual meeting and election.

For more information, contact the district office or email