Mower SWCD supervisor to serve on state board

Smith representing southeast Minnesota for conservation group

Feb. 12, 2021 — A Mower County farmer and conservation board supervisor now represents southeast Minnesota on a state organization’s board.

Randy Smith, chair of the Mower Soil & Water Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors who farms near Adams, has started serving as a board member for the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD). He has served since 2016 in his elected role on the Austin-based Mower SWCD’s board.

Randy Smith, chair of the Mower SWCD’s Board of Supervisors and new representative for southeast Minnesota on the board for the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD).

Smith said he’s excited to work with other supervisors on the MASWCD board and bring his extensive farming background that includes working with SWCD staff on projects known as “two-stage ditches” that benefit agriculture and the environment. He also prioritizes animal agriculture in his SWCD work.

As MASWCD’s Southeast Area 7 director, Smith represents 11 SWCDs in southeastern Minnesota. Active in his local conservation district, he will continue to serve as a supervisor and chair of the Mower SWCD board.

This is the 11-county area of southeast Minnesota represented by Smith on the MASWCD board.

“Randy’s enthusiasm and leadership have served the Mower County community well over the last several years,” said Justin Hanson, Mower SWCD’s district manager. “Now he’s sharing his talents with partners throughout the region and around the state. He’s a great ambassador for agriculture and conservation.”

Smith credits much of his interest in serving on the MASWCD’s state board to one of his former colleagues on the Mower SWCD board, Jim Gebhardt, who did not seek re-election last fall after serving 30 years on the board.

“Jim was a mentor when I joined the board,” Smith said. “He introduced me to other SWCD supervisors he had gotten to know over the years and helped me get to know the people and interests in other areas of our region and state. It made me want to jump in and get involved.”

(Left to right) Former long-time Mower SWCD board member Jim Gebhardt with Mower SWCD board chair Randy Smith and Mower SWCD district manager Justin Hanson a few years ago at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Farming with two brothers in the Little Cedar River watershed in southern Mower County, Smith has farmed full-time for about 32 years on the family farm that goes back five generations and 152 years to 1869. Smith’s grandma kept the family farm going through the Great Depression economic downturn in the 1930s while raising six children.

Under the operation, the Smith family farms 630 acres of cropland for corn and soybeans and raise about 7,200 hogs per year along with 250 cows for dairy production. They also finish out dairy steers for market.

“Randy’s experience in conservation issues as a supervisor for Mower SWCD will be extremely valuable as a board member for the association,” said LeAnn Buck, Executive Director of the MASWCD. “With his leadership, the association will continue to make significant contributions in the area of local resource management.”

MASWCD is a not-for-profit association that represents Minnesota’s 88 SWCDs and the 440 men and women who serve on their elected governing boards. SWCDs are local government units that started forming in the 1930s when Congress responded to the large amounts of topsoil being lost to wind and water erosion.

MASWCD’s eight areas in the state.

SWCDs exist across the entire state and involve landowners as well as local and state officials in resource management protection. MASWCD is involved in helping to set policy for various conservation programs, including the state Erosion Control Cost-Share Program; Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve Program; Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act; and the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment.

In both rural and urban settings, SWCDs work with landowners and other units of government to carry out a program from the conservation, use and development of soil, water and related resources. One vital niche that SWCDs fill involves providing soil-and-water conservation services to owners of private lands. Privately owned lands make up 78 percent of the land surface in Minnesota.

Randy Smith, wearing yellow in the front row, takes in a legislative update in 2019 at the annual conference of the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) in Minneapolis.

Formed in 2007, CRWD works to reduce flooding and improve water quality on the Cedar River State Water Trail and its tributaries in southern Minnesota.

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