DOVER The 2011 Soil and Water Conservation Districts Conservation Farm of the Year and the Educator of the Year awards were presented and others were honored during the 68th annual Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) meeting and awards banquet Nov. 3 in St. Johns United Church of Christ in Dover. The 2011 Farm of the Year and Educator of the Year were recognized and outstanding volunteers were honored.

Don and Ann Carruthers, who manage a rotational grazing beef cow herd on their farm near Newcomerstown, were selected to receive the 2011 Farm of the Year Award. The farm has seen quite a diverse history of animals and management styles.

The 160-acre property was first established in the family in 1904. Dons parents, Clyde and Marjorie, bought the farm in 1953, and managed it until 2002, during which time they kept a small dairy herd and raised approximately 70 hogs until the facilities burned down in 1974.

A herd of 20 beef cows were always kept on the farm. During the late 1980s, a 35-acre wooded area was cleared to increase grazing acreage to support a larger beef herd.

The farm was transferred to Don and his sister, Debra Bush, in 2002. Don and Ann assumed full management responsibility in 2008 after Clyde passed away. They own 15 additional acres that are separate from the original farm acreage.

In 2009, a 20-acre corn field was converted into pasture ground with a hay mix seeding. Don attended an SWCD sponsored grazing school in Guernsey County to acquire knowledge about rotational grazing. A grazing management plan was developed through the NRCS program, EQIP.

Several other conservation practices were implemented through the federal cost incentive program. The improvements implemented include more than 13,000 feet of fence, a gravel access road, two concrete heavy use pads, two automatic watering systems, and more than 6,000 feet of pipeline for the rotational grazing management system.

The Carruthers family hosted a grazing field day, sponsored by the Tuscarawas and Guernsey SWCDs in 2009. The workshop addressed fence construction, water needs and pasture health.

Currently, they manage a 40-cow herd, including some purebred Angus and crossbred Angus Charolais. Don and Ann have kept busy outside the farm with their full time jobs.

Don has worked 36 years for the Kroger Company, averaging 900 miles each week in his travels. Ann began working for the grocery industry in 1977 and moved to an independent operator in 2004 for Bimbo Bakery USA.

Don and Ann have two daughters, Katie, a school teacher, and Kristen, a registered nurse.

Nicole Miles who teaches third grade at Park Elementary School in the Claymont School District, received the 2011 SWCD Educator of the year Award. She also teaches an early childhood class at Kent State Tuscarawas.

In presenting the award, Marsha Zoller, Norma Johnson Center (NJC) director, said, Nicole is an educator who goes above and beyond when it comes to teaching and leading her students through the school year. Last year she involved her students in a national environmentally friendly competition called the Disney Planet Challenge.

At the 2010 Forest Heritage Festival, Nicoles class saw the Norma Johnson Center display. Her students picked the NJC as the non-profit organization that would benefit from all their hard work. Zoller went into the classroom each month to teach about Ohio animals, weathering and erosion, the rock cycle and minerals.

During this time, the students were hard at work collecting clothing and other discarded items from the community to create the numerous sewing projects, such as quilted bears and quilts that were created in the classroom and then auctioned off in the spring. A total of $923 was raised and presented to the Norma Johnson Center .

During this time, the students learned all kinds of life lessons, along with meeting curriculum guidelines, Zoller said. Nicole excels at creating life situations to apply the knowledge gained through textbooks

Miles has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a BA in Early Childhood. Prior to teaching at Park, she taught Head Start where her dreams to do more were formed, Zoller said.

Tracy Haney, SWCD Program administrator, recognized several volunteers, for all their hard work thus year and their total support of the Soil and Water Conservation District.

Those recognized were Sandy Maistros and Daylene Hykes, who work 16 hours each week and do many things to help the office operate very efficiently. They are customer friendly and always look for ways to help, Haney said.

John L. Sigrist, SWCD board secretary, presented a special award to Terry Scott, Civil Engineering Technician, upon his retirement.

Jim Rowe, who received the 2010 Conservationist Award, discussed the 2011 farm day event held earlier this year at Tuscora Park.

Bob Mulligan of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was in charge of the supervisor election. Matt Liggett, vice chairman of the board, was re-elected for another three-year term.

Featured speaker was Wade Dunlap, Tuscarawas County wildlife officer.

Melvin Lahmers, SWCD board chairman, introduced members of the SWCD and NRCS staff, county commissioners and engineer.

Bull Brug asked the invocation for the candlelight dinner served by members of the church.