Live Oak — The Suwannee County Conservation District had their 71st Soil Stewardship Banquet on April 30 to celebrate Soil Stewardship Week. This annual event recognizes Suwannee County students and farmers for their ongoing dedication to learning about and conserving natural resources. United States Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla. 3rd District) was the guest speaker for the event. The Live Oak Church of God was the venue, and 130 guests enjoyed a meal and an awards program for Suwannee County students.
The A.W. Gaylard Family was honored as the Suwannee County Conservation District Farm Family of the Year. The Gaylards, A.W. and Carolyn, are leaders in conserving natural resources through their implementation of Best Management Practices on their approximately 500 acre farm.
Student awards for the County Conservation Poster Contest were given to students from grades K-12 from all Suwannee County schools. Winners received a plaque and a cash award for their efforts. The winners from the five classes will compete at the AREA II meeting on May 30.
Winning land judging teams from Branford High and Branford Middle School were given certificates, and the winning Envirothon team from Suwannee High School, who placed seventh in state competition, was also recognized. The Conservation District presented plaques and checks to the students and teachers/advisors who spend extra time working on these events. Yoho, who is a member of the House Agricultural Committee, spoke about the importance of farming in our area, throughout Florida and the United States. He will be working on a new farm bill with other committee members in Washington, D.C. He is a strong voice for our area to help with funding for farming practices to help with soil and water quality issues. Farmers are the original conservationists, and our local Conservation District is helping with cost share funding from the Florida Department of Agriculture and the National Resource Conservation Service. Working with local, state and federal agencies, our agricultural future is bright here in North Florida. Conserving water, protecting soil quality, and developing new and better farming practices will ensure our area continues to have a positive impact on preserving our natural resources for future generations.
These students are the future of agriculture in Suwannee County, and they have shown their commitment to keeping Suwannee County agriculture a profitable and sustainable business for years to come. We thank all our teachers and students for their efforts to continue the practices that will ensure a bright future for agriculture here in North Florida.