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Our History

A Legacy of Stewardship

The Isabella Soil Conservation District was officially approved on March 11, 1948. The District included the eight townships in the west half of the County. A referendum was held in each township at that time. The first directors elected were: Don Uebele, Blanchard; Don Houghton, Mt. Pleasant, and George Skinner, Lake, with Clyde Beutler, Weidman and Harold Decker, Riverdale, as the two Directors appointed by the State Committee. County Agent B.C. Mellencamp served as Secretary from the formation of the District. Everett Gulembo was the first County Planner and rightly deserves credit for the rapid growth of the District. Upon his selection as District Conservationist, Gordon Hatch and Dan Balog followed as County Planners. 

The east half of the county was annexed to the District in March of 1951 by a referendum held in the eight townships, thus making available assistance to every farmer in the County. The value of the District and the response by farmers may be shown by the fact that 307 applications have been received by the Board of Directors and 171 farm plans developed by cooperators since 1948. Fifty-three neighborhood groups have been organized with 34 of these during 1951, with 238 farmers as members.

An early and still remaining obstacle that the District faces is impressing upon each individual in the sabllea District the need and importance of soil and water conservation in the District, in Michigan, in the United States, and in the world. The District strives to communicate these important issues to the public of Isablela County and encouraging people of all ages to assume responsibility conserving our natural resources.

A Year in Focus: 1952

The District provides many beneficial services and quality natural resource assistance to the Isabella County community. To fully demonstrate the District's tireless effort across the years of its existence, below is provided one year's worth of goals, activities, objectives and accomplishments, derived from the year 1952.


By examining our history, we quickly discover that conservation issues that existed then are still important concerns today. May this small sample of the District's many dedicated years of service be a positive reminder and an encouraging inspiration as the District carries on to be a strong partner to the community in order to improve natural resources conservation for generations to come. 

Immediate Agricultural Needs | 1952:

  1. "Get more pasture improvement" - Goal of 2,000 acres

  2. "More sod waterways established "- Goal of 25 miles

  3. "Strip cropping" - Goal of 3,000 acres

  4. "Contour farming" - Goal of 20,000 acres

  5. "Tree planting" - Goal of 100 acres

  6. "Drainage" - Goal of 1,000 acres

  7. "Rotations" - every farmer use a conservation rotation

District Education Activities | 1952: 

  • 54 radio broadcasts

  • County Fair Exhibits

  • 65 news stories and pictures

  • 252 color slides of cooperator activities

  • 200 black and white pictures of cooperator activities

  • 34 new neighbor groups organized - 238 farmers

  • 24 aerial trips on the First Annual Air Tour

  • First Annual Veteran Soil and Water Conservation Tour

  • 7 general farm tours 4 schools in the county visited

  • 15 neighbor groups organized in east half of the county

  • Won second place in the Michigan Statewide Goodyear Soil and Water Conservation Contest

  • Four country run-off plot located 1/4 mile North of junction of U.S 10 and M 66 constructed and in action

  • Received lime from Collins Farm Supply to mark out tour stops during Annual Air Tour

  • Farm equipment dealers of Isabella County extended excellent cooperation in applying soil conservation the land. 

  • Worked with G.I. groups in the District through tours and demonstrations

  • 46,000 transplant pine trees were planted by District cooperators

  • District directors, their wives, the three top cooperators and their wives attended a banquet sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company near Reed City. 

Objectives | 1952:

"To enlighten all rural and urban folks to the importance and necessity of proper land use, through publicity channels, demonstrations, tours, and all other available means."

"To make possible the District's aim of 'soil and water conservation practices on every farm'."

"To improve our community and afford a higher standard of living for all, by conservation of our natural resources."

"To encourage all people to utilize and put every acre to the best use."

Accomplishments | 1952: 

119 farmers asking for assistance - 19,588 acres

48 Basic plans - 4,183 acres

20 Initial plans prepared - 1,560 acres

Crop residue management - 106 acres

Constructed waterways - 3.79 miles

Pasture improvement - 64 acres

Wildlife area improvement - 49 acres

Woodland management - 117 acres

Strip cropping - 523 acres

Contour farming - 140 acres

Cover crop - 49 acres

Tree planting - 53 acres

Farm ponds - 3 acres

Diversions - 2.74 miles

Closed drains - 14,432 feet

Open drains - 2.08 miles

Seeding of pasture - 91 acres


Educational meetings - 60

Radio - 54

News articles - 65

Tours - 32

Neighbor groups located - 25

Groups ready for planning - 15

People in groups ready - 87

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