Stark SWCD Staff (left to right): Megan Liggett, Matthew Ferrel, Jay Jordan, John S. Weedon, Sarah E. Matheny

During the pandemic-stricken year of 2020, Stark Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) demonstrated exceptional resiliency and creativity.


First, throughout the many Covid-19 ravaged months and even though the county stood at Level 4 (purple), the District never closed. The staff and board exhibited repeated resiliency by implementing evolving safety protocols that allowed the District to continue to inspect active construction sites, conduct outfalls inspections, respond to drainage complaints, and provide technical assistance to farmers. Thankfully, staff have remained Covid-19 free so far. Our ability to continue to deliver quality, and safe, service during the pandemic was recognized by our local government partners, who funded us at requested levels.


Second, given the understandable lack of enthusiasm for in-person workshops, staff decided to go virtual. With no training, District staff managed to create, produce, and star in a video series called Stark Stewardship Live! The nineteen videos were produced on iPhones and covered a wide range of conservation topics:


            A Soil Erosion Experiment

            Aerial Cover Crop Seeding

            Backyard Birding

            Backyard Composting

            Backyard Gardening

            Catch Basins

            Concrete Washouts

            Creek Critters

            Dust Control

            Earth Day

            How Your Water Sheds

            Inlet Protections

            Monarch Butterflies

            Post-Construction BMPs

            Soil Testing

            Springing Rain Barrels

            Stream Dynamics




Each staff member was responsible for producing three videos. This involved selecting a topic, finding a shoot location, writing the script, starring in the video, and editing it. It was truly all hands-on effort.


The results? Over 6,400 views on Facebook.


Next, with the county fair more or less canceled, staff decided to create a Virtual Fair Booth video series. Once again, staff developed and starred in six action packed videos:


            Who We Are

            Healthy Soils Tests

            Cover Crops for All

            Soil Painting


            Farm to Fair to Picnic


To entice viewers, a trailer was produced with heart pounding music and action-packed clips.


Of particular note, the Healthy Soils Tests video demonstrated the five assessments used to test soil entries for our 2nd annual Healthy Soils contest. The five tests included the slake test, soil structure, smell, infiltration, and organic matter. Kenny Blim, crop farmer in Washington Townships, won the coveted soil health shovel.


The result? Over 5,800 views on Facebook.


In 2020, Stark SWCD staff and board members could have used Covid-19 as an excuse to just get by. Instead, staff and board made something special out of little. 

Award Citation