January 20, 2009
In high school sports one of the most prestigious awards an individual can win is the mental attitude award. Not everyone has the skills to play like Larry Bird or Michael Jordan, but they can adopt an attitude of sportsmanship and honest play. That's what the award recognizes.
In soil and water conservation in Indiana, the President's award presented by the President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts each year at the annual conference in Indianapolis in January comes close to carrying the same weight. The selection is up tot the leader of this powerful group.
Jim Droege, presiding as president of the IASWCD at the annual conference last week, discussed the difficulty in making such a selection. He noted that many people have made valuable contributions to help both him and IASWCD over the past year. In the end, he turned to someone who has worked in the background for decades, honestly supporting soil and water conservation.
He presented the award to Ray Chattin, Vincennes. Chattin leases his land to no-tillers, and operates a sawmill, harvesting timber from his family's forested acres. But it's his dedication to soil and water conservation that earned him the award, Droege says. He relied on Chattin's advice many times during the past year, the IASWCD president says.
It was Chattin who alerted Indiana Prairie Farmer when the now impeached Governor of Illinois took away all soil conservation funding to districts in that state. Since Chattin farms not far from the Illinois line, he was aware of the situation. The funding was later restored, but only after an uproar throughout Illinois.
Illinois provides far more funding form state coffers for soil conservation than Indiana does. Chattin and others hoped that the crisis created by floods last summer and the devastating damage, especially in the southern half of Indiana, would convince legislators that more funding devoted to soil conservation through the Clean Water Indiana program could help prevent such destruction in the future. However, it's possible that the damage from the flood in '08 could be overwhelmed by the current economic crisis and drop in revenue headed to state coffers.
Chattin is an avid supporter of his local soil and water conservation district. He's worked to help the Knox County district become one of the leaders at turning a dollar's worth of funding into far more than a dollar's worth of service and improvements to the community.
Congratulations to Ray. Everyone knows you will keep up the good work!
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