The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts is meeting in Indianapolis through the first half of this week. This is the diamond jubilee of conservation districts in Indiana. The theme of the conference is "The Power of Conservation: A Living History."
One man who knows a lot about that history will be leading sessions covering varying historical events. He's Bob Eddleman, who grew up in Crawford County and became state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Indiana for roughly two decades.
Retired for several years, he's still active in soil and water activities, and serves on the Indiana State Soil Conservation Board. IASWCD and the State Board are two of the partners, along with NRCS, Purdue Extension and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil, in Indiana's soil conservation movement.
Jim Lake and Greg Biberdorf are also leading discussions on the history of IASWCDs in Indiana this week. Lake is retried from both NRCS and the ISDA staff, and is currently a consultant helping train fertilizer dealers and farmers on how to prevent phosphorus loss in the Lake Erie watershed in northeast Indiana. Biberdorf is worth the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
IASWCD formed in 1944. For years, the annual conference was held at Purdue University. Partly to put more emphasis on meeting with legislators, the conference moved to Indianapolis in the late 1980s.
The legislative breakfast held during the conference is one of the best-attended legislative events of the session. IASWCD leaders believe contacts made through that event helped set the stage for important developments that have helped spur state involvement in soil conservation efforts.
Indiana was not actively supporting conservation efforts to a large extent until the T by 2000 program was formed and launched in 1986.
This year's legislative breakfast is Tuesday, Jan. 13. Legislators from all over the state are expected to attend.