The Jim Wells County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recognized local farmers, ranchers and area students for their work towards the conservation of local resources during the awards banquet Wednesday.

The SWCD board of directors along with family and friends of honorees filled the Women's Building at the JWC Fairgrounds. This year's honorees were:

Conservation Farmer of the Year was Michael Schroedter, Conservation Rancher of the Year was James Lyssard, Friend of Conservation was Eddie Garcia with the Gulf Coast Livestock, and Conservation Business went to Edgar Startz, owner of Edgar’s Farm and Equipment.

Conservation Farmer of the Year

Schroedter looks to conserve the soil resource, keep a productive operation, and diversify his operation to protect from crop loss. Schroedter, operating under Schroedter Farms LLC, uses a crop rotation of corn, grain sorghum, sunflowers, and cotton rotation and will add other crops, such as wheat, as dictated by either the weather and or crop prices. 

Schroedter Farms LLC operates on about 1,000 acres of land in JWC. To aid in conserving the soil resource, Schroedter sprays any growing weeds, rather than a tillage operation, immediately after harvest in July. To better store any fall rainfall, a deep ripper operation is done to open up that soil profile to allow deeper moisture storage. The fields will be sprayed for winter weeds as needed.

Conservation Rancher of the Year

Layssard, and his wife Jane, operate their ranch on approximately 130 acres north and west of Alice with an eight pasture rotational grazing system, plus an annual forage production field for his beef cattle operation. Layssard's land is composed of clay, loamy and shallow ridge soils with buffelgrass and other grass species present. He uses one pasture primarily for forage sorghum production, with the remaining eight pastures used for his grazing rotation.

Layssard is very aggressive in his management approach on the pastures –if it doesn’t benefit his cows, it HAS TO GO! Even brush species that would be beneficial to the area’s white tailed deer have little place on his operation – Hogplum: It has to die!

Friend of Conservation

Garcia has been around cattle auctions most of his life, he now owns one of the oldest in South Texas – Gulf Coast Livestock Auction in Alice, Texas. He has been instrumental in helping area ranchers by being hands-on and knowing his customers. He re-established the vat next to the auction barn so that the local ranchers affected by the recent Fever Tick Quarantine would not have to transport their livestock out of the area. He is always looking for ways to help the community.

Conservation Business

Startz is the owner of Edgar's Farm and Equipment. He started his business in October 1980. He has been in the Farm equipment repairs business for 37 years. Startz is a very dedicated man to his family, business, friends and church. He has always been a hard worker, ever since he was a teen. He has six children and has been widowed for 10 years.

Service awards were also presented to Nelda Garcia, Lindsey Koenig and Jerry Nock.

Winners of the local student poster contest were first place - Caiden Garza, second place Issac Gonzalez and third place - Leia Hernandez.