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An international leader in the soil health movement, Jimmy served as the regional coordinator for USDA's Farm Production and Conservation Program. He recently joined the Oklahoma Conservation Commission as its Soil Health Mentoring Coordinator. Jimmy and his wife, Ginger, manage 2,000 cropland acres and 5,000 rangeland acres with regenerative agriculture techniques in Dewey County, Oklahoma. Their annual Rainfall is 20" Jimmy says. They received Oklahoma's first Leopold Conservation Award in 2017.
Russ Jackson grew up on the family farm in Mountain View, Oklahoma. After graduating high school, he attended Cameron University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. From an early age he worked alongside his father using conventional heavy tillage on a wide variety of soils. After hitting a wall with a decline in yields and even in fall grazing on wheat pasture he realized pH levels, along with fertility, weren’t the only problems facing the farm.
High fuel prices in 2005 was just the nudge he needed to try a different approach, which landed him on No-till. Using No-till stopped soil erosion and led to the first signs that the soil could be repaired. Wanting to continue this healthy process, a transition, in 2013, to double cropping using HRW wheat, HRS wheat, canola, corn, milo, sesame, cotton, and soybeans began. Adding cover crops and grazing cover crops to the operation in 2015 only helped accelerate the process.
The addition of cover crop mixes has added supplemental grazing for cow/calf pairs and stockers while allowing time for the native pastures to rest. By continuing these practices, he has seen multiple benefits to the soil, including water retention, increased organic matter, and earthworm activity.
In the fall of 2017, with the support of the Kiowa County NRCS & OACD, a fall grazing mix demonstration farm project was planted to experiment with different plant species followed by a county wide field day of testing water infiltration, a demostration of packed soils from previous years of tillage, and grazing practices.
Russ was awarded the prestigous Leopold Conservation Award in 2018. He operates this third-generation family farm in Southwest Oklahoma with his wife Jani, and their two children Kate and Paden.
Keith Berns combines over 20 years of no-till farming with 10 years of teaching Agriculture and Computers. In addition to no-tilling 2,000 acres of irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans, rye, triticale, peas, sunflowers, and buckwheat in South Central Nebraska, he also co-owns and operates Green Cover Seed, one of the major cover crop seed providers and educators in the United States.
Through Green Cover Seed, Keith has experimented with over 100 different cover crop types and hundreds of mixes planted into various situations and has learned a great deal about cover crop growth, nitrogen fixation, moisture usage, and grazing utilization of cover crops. Keith was honored by the White House as a 2016 Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. Keith also developed the SmartMix CalculatorTM one of the most widely used cover crop selection tools on the internet Keith has a Masters Degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Nebraska and teaches on cover crops and soil health more than 30 times per year to various groups and audiences. Keith also was appointed by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts to be part of the Nebraska Healthy Soils Task Force and had the privilege of serving as the chairman.
On January 15, Clayton began his new job as Conservation Programs Manager which is a shared position between Missouri Soybean and Missouri Corn. This new position was established through a partnership between Missouri Soybean, Missouri Corn, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, and Missouri Department of Conservation.
Clayton grew up in the small town of Freeburg, MO; located just southeast of Jefferson City. He was raised in a family that loves the outdoors and that is what struck his interest in pursuing a career in conservation. He graduated in 2009 from Missouri State University in Springfield, MO with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management and a minor in Agronomy. Clayton started his conservation career with the Missouri Department of Conservation, and for 13 years gained experience working all over the state in many different roles. He spent the majority of his career as a Wildlife Management Biologist, managing the natural resources on public land. He focused on wetland habitat and restoring the natural communities for woodlands, glades, and grasslands.
Clayton, his wife Cindy, and their two sons, Calvin, 5, and Cade, 2 live on 12 acres in Osage County where they enjoy letting their boys explore nature.