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Meet a man dedicated to soil conservation

Courtesy of Lisa Holscher Fred Woods
EARLY CONSERVATION EFFORTS: Fred Woods helped farmers put conservation practices on the land and heal past soil erosion woes.
Fred Woods played a key role in bringing conservation to the land in Indiana.

Imagine hearing Hugh Hammond Bennett speak on your farm. Bennett was the nationally known conservation leader who brought awareness to the plight of farmers in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. He is often credited with being the driving force behind establishment of the Soil Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service, by Congress in the 1930s. That same movement led to the establishment of soil and water conservation districts across the country.

Fred Woods not only heard Hugh Hammond Bennett speak on his family farm in North Carolina as a teenager, he is still around today to tell the story. Woods, now a Hoosier, celebrated his 100th birthday on Feb. 26. He was inspired to pursue a career in soil conservation after hearing Bennett speak.

Lisa HolscherChris Lee and Fred Woods

DEDICATED TO SOIL CONSERVATION: Chris Lee (left) visits with Fred Woods shortly before his 100th birthday in February. Both are strong believers in soil conservation.

Chris Lee, NRCS team leader based in Princeton, Ind., says that Indiana was blessed when Woods chose to pursue the bulk of his career in Indiana. He retired from what was then SCS in the mid-1980s after a 40-year career.

Lee says Woods was instrumental in multiple, large-scale watershed projects in Martin and Daviess counties during the 1960s and 1970s. He was an associate SWCD supervisor in Martin County until just a few years ago. Earlier in retirement, he planted trees for anyone who wanted trees planted in his area. He and his wife, Florence, now live in Jasper, Ind.

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