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Serving: IN

Say ‘thank you’ to those who work hard on your behalf

Tom J. Bechman Leslie Fisher
TRUSTED ADVISER: Leslie Fisher leads the Pine Creek Watershed project in Benton County, Ind., and surrounding counties. She recently received a national award recognizing her as a “trusted adviser.”
Leslie Fisher is a great example of someone deserving to be recognized for conservation work.

A new year offers an opportunity to stop and consider all those who support your farming operation. If you made a list of advisers who support your business, how many names would be on it? How many times have you simply said “thank you” to the person behind each name?

Some are obvious — a professional tax consultant, accountant, estate lawyer, agronomist, perhaps even a grain marketing adviser. Most of those are paid for their services. But a heartfelt thank you can go a long way toward helping them realize that you appreciate that they’re a part of your team.

The point of this article is to go beyond the obvious choices for your list of advisers. What about your county Extension educator who provides information when you ask for it? How about the district conservationist employed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service for helping you solve resource management concerns? Maybe there’s also a state or county conservation employee who advises you about how to make no-till work better or helps you determine which cover crops to try. Do you thank them for their help, or do you take them for granted?

My experience is that most of these people do their jobs because they believe in conservation and are dedicated to helping you manage your resources in the best way possible. Still, sometimes a simple thank you can go a long way.

Case in point

Leslie Fisher is a resources conservation specialist for the soil and water conservation district in Benton County, Ind. Over the past five years, she has gone above and beyond her job description in leading the Pine Creek Watershed project, whose impact extends beyond the borders of Benton County. She’s explored creative ways to find funding to help farmers put conservation on the land, including linking to companies willing to provide funding in exchange for documenting that they were assisting in reducing nutrient loads and improving the environment.

Some of you have likely worked with Fisher. Maybe you’ve even said thank you. Recently, a national organization said thank you in a big way by naming her as the 2021 Trusted Adviser of the Year for Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. Spokespersons for the group say Fisher was honored as the trusted adviser for championing community-wide solutions that enhance farmer livelihoods while making essential contributions to landscape-level sustainability outcomes across the state.

Michael Crowder, president of the National Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, says thank you and notes that Fisher successfully engaged with more than 100 farmers and landowners, generating 30,000 acres of cover crops and preventing an estimated 34,000 pounds of nitrogen from entering Big Pine Creek and downstream waterways.

How have her efforts magnified themselves throughout Indiana and beyond state borders? She was instrumental in hosting two large-scale field days on Rick Clark’s farm near Williamsport, Ind. Clark is converting to sustainable agriculture, including many acres in organic production — finding profitable ways to protect the environment and farm at the same time.

These field days help spread information about potential environmentally friendly practices beyond county and state borders. Look for another field day in the Big Pine Watershed in 2022.

Congratulations, Leslie, on receiving this well-deserved, prestigious award. More importantly, thanks for all you do for farmers, and for conservation in Indiana.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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