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Mr. Soil Conservation retires- officially!

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

December 5, 2006

3 Min Read

One of Indiana's biggest friends of soil conservation, Quentin Williamson, officially retires this month. Local farm families and soil conservation enthusiasts honored him with a celebration last week.

Williamson has spent more than two decades working for the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District, based in Richmond. But he's been a believer in soil conservation all his life. He grew up on a farm near Economy in Wayne County. His son still farms today.

Wayne County is known for some of the largest gatherings at soil conservation meetings anywhere in Indiana. It's a slow night if less than 300 gather for the annual district meeting. And until a couple years ago, the district sponsored a no-till plot. In fact the 35-acre plot project continued for 20 years. Come rain or shine, hot sunshine, a crowd never smaller than 200 people, and sometimes much larger, gathered to ride haywagons over the field on an August morning. Crowds of 200 and up show up every March at the Wayne County fairgrounds for a half-day meting on soil conservation and local ag topics.

Why do so many people show up at these events, yet today? Partly it's the food! But more so it's because Williamson goes above and beyond, calling and calling on local folk with a personal invitation, until they understand that it's worth their time to show up. Badgering? Nope. From what most people say, it's more like discovering that someone else, Williamson, truly cares about them. They've returned the favor by attending meetings, workshops and two-day trips whenever they can. And as a result - the proof of the pudding - many have adopted both no-till and other soil conservation practices on their farms.

Not only is Williamson a permanent fixture in Wayne County, but his brother who grew up alongside him on that Economy farm is also known across Indiana. Mauri Williamson was Purdue Ag Alumni executive director for roughly three decades, prompting creation of the most successful ag alumni event anywhere, the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry.

Known for his cutting-edge remarks, remarkable knowledge of key people in every county in Indiana, and his down-home, old-fashioned wit and humor, Mauri is beloved by many…maybe cussed by a few!

He's also gained recognition as curator of the Pioneer Village living-history exhibit at the Indiana State Fair. Although he finally turned over the reigns of leading that effort to someone else this summer, he was still there, dressed in bib overalls, meeting folks and living a part that he knew as a young man growing up. He's also the driving force behind the Center for Agricultural Science and Heritage, best known for The Barn, a restored, honest-to-goodness mid-1900's –style dairy barn now located in the middle of Indianapolis, on 38th Street across from the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Mauri emceed his brother's retirement gala last week. Hats off to Quentin for risking a searing roast by agreeing to show up at an event hosted by his ornery brother!

But last Friday night was about Quentin. Slowed in his step by the ravages of time, his heart still bleeds for soil conservation. If you live in east-central Indiana, don't think you're off the hook for reminder phone calls, urging you to come to the next soil conservation event, just because Quentin Williamson will no long draw pay for the work he loves.

Answer that phone! It just might be a warm, friendly voice belonging to Quentin Williamson on the other end of the line.

Look for more about Quentin in the January '07 issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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