Missouri continues to be very unique in its efforts in soil and water conservation, as evidenced by the multiple approvals of the sales tax for soil and water conservation by Missouri voters.  We have come to realize that what affects the land affects our lives.

This history commemorates 65 years for the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the progress of soil and water conservation in Missouri.  Included are stories and photos of state conservation leaders and soil and water conservation districts that emphasize what the conservation movement has meant to Missouri…

Dr. William Albrecht, former head of the Soils Department at the University of Missouri, who achieved nation-wide renown in that post, believed that this area, besides being extremely productive, imparted to foods grown there, perfect mineral content for human nourishment. Further West, he thought, there was too little rainfall to break down minerals; East of the Mississippi, there was too much to the point that some elements were leached out of the soil, even though crop yields were heavy.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina in June 1903 with a Bachelor of Science degree, Hugh Hammond Bennett joined the Bureau of Soils within the USDA.  The bureau had begun to make county based soil surveys in 1899, which became regarded as an important American contribution to the field of soil science. Bennett wrote increasingly about soil erosion in the 1920s for an array of popular and scientific journals and was establishing himself as the USDA expert on soil erosion.  In Bennett’s mind a national program of soil erosion was needed. Bennett’s ally in cause, A. B. Connor of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, enlisted the aid of Representative James Buchanan, who inserted a clause in the USDA appropriations bill for fiscal year 1929-1930 that authorized the soil experiment stations. (Eventually the stations would be renamed soil conservation experiment stations.) Bennett was disappointed that some of the funds were allotted to the Forest Service and the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering (BAE). Despite this disappointment he sought out locations and cooperating states who usually contributed the use of land for the stations. He designed much of the research program and supervised the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils researchers at the experiment station. Bennett’s new position was “in charge of soil erosion and moisture conservation investigations,” when the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) arrived in Washington, D.C.   FDR and the architects of the New Deal acted early in the administration to provide work for the unemployed through federally funded projects. Coincidental to providing employment, these wages would prime the local economic pump; and, it was hoped, bring the country out of the economic depression. The public works legislation identified soil conservation as one of its purposes. Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933 and on March 21st he proposed to Congress that they create “a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work, not interfering with normal employment, and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control and similar projects.”  September 19, 1933 marks the selection of Hugh Hammond Bennett as the director of the Soil Erosion Service (SES), predecessor to SCS. Creation of the Soil Erosion Service was critical to the future of Federal soil conservation activities, the history of SCS, and Bennett’s recognition as the “father of soil conservation.”



If these eminent gentlemen were right, it also became apparent, after about a hundred years of farming, that these rich soils were eroding at an alarming rate. Rough estimates cite a loss of 200 tons per acre. The economics of a booming wheat market and the notion that soil was an inexhaustible resource had pushed agriculture to its limits in the 1920’s. Through the Twenties and Thirties, the hillsides were becoming denuded of top soil, scarred by gullies, and production sharply declined. Some land was abandoned to broom sedge, elm sprouts and tickle grass. To top it off, we had the big, black dust blows of hot, dry 1934 and 1936. The wind lifted that inexhaustible resource in dark, billowing sheets that blotted out the sun. The biggest of all dust storms arrived on “Black Sunday,” April 14, 1935, and stayed for about 50 seconds. The Dust bowl is much more than a geographic area, the term itself has become synonymous with poverty, waste, and despair. But, it has come to symbolize more, something positive as well. The Dust Bowl was the catalyst behind a 60-year endeavor in farming: soil conservation.

This may have been a good thing, for some of the dust blew clear to Washington, D.C., dimming the sun, and helped Hugh Bennett of the Soil Erosion Service to sell President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress on the idea that something had to be done on a national scale, and at once. While the Soil Conservation Act was being debated before a Senate Committee in May 1934, Bennett delayed the hearing a day because he had been tracking a Southern Plains dust storm that was making its way up the Ohio Valley to the East Coast and Washington, D.C. When the dust storm arrived, during the hearing, they moved from the great mahogany table to the windows of the Senate Office building for a look. Bennett remarked: “Gentlemen that is Kansas blowing by.” Everything went nicely thereafter. Photos of huge “dusters” in Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas convinced even doubters that more formal soil conservation actions were needed. The Soil Conservation Service (SCS) was created in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by an act of Congress on April 27, 1935.

Hugh Bennett, by personal research, determined the best practices for control of wind and water erosion, but this achievement, however great, was only a technical one. What places him among the very few greatest and smartest Americans who ever lived, was his Soil District idea. He saw that the job of saving America’s Soil and Water was too big for even the huge resources of the Federal government. So he gave the job to the people who lived on the land — the nation’s farmers and ranchers. He knew they would do what was needed, mostly at their own expense, if supplied with technical help and engineering suggestions. The spark for the SCS and local soil conservation districts was struck in the demonstration projects of the now-defunct Soil Erosion Service begun in 1933.

Plowing under sweet clover as green manure.       

Louis Kemper farm near Washington, Missouri,  April 28, 1938.  

Barnyard manure was the most commonly used soil amendment and small amounts of lime and commercial fertilizer were used by some, though not all farmers.  Fairly good rotations of corn, wheat and clover were followed but without proper applications of lime and fertilizer, the soils became low in organic matter and fertility; farmers faced increasing difficulty establishing clover and saw lower crop yields.  This downward spiral of reduced fertility, clover failure, and soil erosion often combined to prevent the establishment of crops or even a stand of grass.

Eventually, fields where grass couldn’t be established were abandoned, unusable even for pasture.  It was evident that “steps must be taken to conserve soil and to restore eroded areas if the land is to support this and future generations.”  Farmers were ready for change and when they saw the positive results of demonstrations projects like the Dubois Creek Watershed project initiated in 1935, near Washington, they were eager to have the assistance of the Soil Conservation Service through the Soil and Water Conservation District.

The crowning touch was to make his own agency’s role one of demonstration and suggestion, rather than one of domination and dictation. He knew there was nothing much wrong with the brains and resolution of men who had held title to a farm through that trying period and that, given the technical help, they could be trusted with control of the program. This was absolutely unique in the history of government-farmer relations, and its success has been nothing short of stupendous. The disappearance of huge dust storms says a lot about Government programs. Improvement is evident in the amount of pasture, reduced tillage, strip-cropping, terracing, and windbreaks found on farms today. If proof of the success in conservation can be found anywhere, it would be in comparing the amount of soil loss over the years. Sophisticated computer models track erosion rates every five years. The next two surveys which will include CRP land and the implementation of conservation compliance on highly erodible land, should show a dramatic decline in erosion rates.

In fact, Missouri had the largest decline in the rate of soil erosion in the nation between 1982 and 1987. Missouri’s reduction in total sheet and rill erosion from cropland and pasture is impressive. More than 171 million tons of soil eroded in 1982, compared with 95 million tons in 1992 – a reduction of 44 percent. Missouri farmers have cut soil erosion rates on cropland by over 50% in less than two decades. We are now number “six” as far as soil erosion is concerned in the United States.

It would take several million dollars annually, at rates current in business and industry, to pay the brains and executive ability in the National Association alone, and you would still be short the dedication these men give to their jobs. Ancel Webb of Pemiscot was the first NACD National Director from Missouri. Other NACD National Directors from Missouri have been Harley bogue of Clay County, Betty Broemmelsiek, of St. Charles County, and Arthur Duncan, of New Madrid County. In 2000 NACD revised their structure setting in place a new Executive Board and National Board. There were no longer any regional board members but the representative from each state became a member of the NACD full board. Eli Mast was the first Missouri member on the NACD full board.

All state and national officers are Soil District supervisors elected by their neighbors and are not different from the local District officer in sweaty overalls who leaves the field early to attend his board meeting. All give their best efforts freely and unselfishly to help their own and succeeding generations of their fellow man. And all are completely immune to pressure. Being unpaid no one at all can tell them what they must do.

Our Foundation

 After passage of the National Soil Conservation Service Act by Congress in 1936, the next thing was for the individual states to pass enabling legislation, which they all proceeded to do over several years, spelling out procedures for the formation and administration of Soil Conservation Districts.

The Missouri law, Senate Bill 80, was passed in 1943 by the General Assembly, largely through the personal efforts of Mr. Jake Noll of Bethany in the Harrison District. Jake moved to Jefferson City for six months and spent $1500 of his own money getting the bill enacted into law. He had known Chief Bennett for many years and had in fact furnished the Harrison County farm which was used by the Chief for early experiments in erosion control measures. In the legislative task, Mr. Noll got substantial help from Ronnie Greenwell, a Bootheeler, who with Jake and Fred Heinkel of MFA, were the three governor-appointed members of the first Missouri Soil Districts Commission. The other two members were prescribed in the law to be the Dean of Missouri College of Agriculture and the State Extension Director.

This provision reflected the anxiety of the established agricultural hierarchy that here might be a threat to their power, and was quite understandable. The University had a long and distinguished record of achievement in agriculture — the oldest experimental plot in the country west of the Mississippi was Sanborn field. So it is not surprising that the College viewed with real alarm the prospect of an influx of “experts” from Washington telling Missourians how to farm. That the alarm was mistaken had to be demonstrated by the march of events.

Even with their misgivings, the College people were fair enough to give the new Districts a try. County Agents helped with forming the first few in Missouri, mainly in the Northwest corner of the state. But friction soon developed, as the Federally-paid conservationists and the farmer-elected supervisors both refused to accord the college the unquestioning obedience and loyalty it demanded. As in most controversies, unyielding attitudes on both sides, rather than specific arts, were the root of the trouble. Not too much was said about it, but a principal irritant was the Soil Conservation Farm Plan, which the Extension people felt was an infringement on their historic function of education, a view not entirely without justice. Also the Soil Conservation Service men had generally less regard for letter-perfect adherence to college recommendations, and more for the wishes and opinions of the farmers being served. They thought it better to give the landowner what he wanted and could live with, even though technically inadequate, than to give him nothing at all.

Whatever the causes, the honeymoon was soon over and every weapon in a powerful arsenal was used to prevent the formation of any more Soil Conservation Districts. A few did manage to organize in Missouri, while Districts were sweeping the rest of the farming-ranching nation, but it was pitifully slow progress. As you can see from the map below, the majority of the soil and water conservation districts in Missouri were organized in the 1960’s.

While our enabling law has been revised a couple of times to make district organization somewhat easier, the main improvement is one of attitudes. The make-up of the State Commission by law remains the same, and Extension Directors are still required to serve as secretaries to Boards of Supervisors. But District people are satisfied to have it so.

However, the Executive Secretaries of the State Commission, WERE the Commission as far as the first Missouri supervisors were concerned. They visited each District at least once a year, and by cajolery and infinite wisdom and patience, kept them on the way they should go. They planned and engineered State Annual Meetings and Training Schools and any other state-wide functions such as Plowing Matches and Soil Conservation Field Days. They would pinch-hit at a moment’s notice as speakers at District Cooperators Meetings. If Howard Jackson, as Deputy and Assistant and later State Conservationist, was our father, they were our mother.


One-Tenth of One Percent

 It is an interesting measure, not only of the growth of the Districts and the Association in recent years, but also of the changed attitude of Missouri legislators, since the passage of the 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax for Parks and Soils in 1984.

The 1977 National Resource Inventory showed Missouri had lost over half of her topsoil since the white man had taken over the management of her soils. What was even worse, we were now losing it at a faster rate than ever. An average of ten tons of topsoil per acre per year was eroding from our cropland. An inch of topsoil off each acre every fifteen years. That was an average for all cropland acres—Some of the worst eroding acres were losing an inch in three years. Missouri was the second worst eroding state in the nation, exceeded only by Tennessee.

Ephemeral erosion forms small gullies that    can be difficult to cross with farm machinery.  Regular tillage practice can fill them.

Looking back through history you will find nations and civilizations that failed because they didn’t take care of their topsoil. As a result they couldn’t feed their people. China, Korea, North Africa, The Holy Land, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Turkey and Egypt — These people have fought wars for thousands of years over parcels of land that is still capable of producing food for their people. The lands around the Mediterranean Sea were once an area a lot like our middle west. Fertile hills and valleys, wooded mountains and abundant rainfall — 20 to 40 inches per year. They not only eroded away their topsoil, but their subsoil as well. Sixty percent of the area all around the Mediterranean is eroded clear to bedrock. In America, the white man settled on the east coast, “farmed out” or eroded away the rich topsoil and moved farther west as the lands were depleted. History was repeating itself in the United States.

Rill erosion, less than an inch thick, can form during heavy rains, losing much topsoil.

SCS furnishing the technical people to address our erosion problem has certainly been a great help. It takes well trained people to do the job right, and SCS has done an excellent job of training these people. Even with the technical help, the landowner is still left with the construction costs of the conservation practices. In most cases, the landowner will not recover the cost of putting the conservation practices on the land in their lifetime. In 1936 the Federal Government started funding part of the cost of conservation; called the Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP). A very good and effective program for years, but like a lot of government programs, inflation and budget cuts have reduced its buying power. In 1950 Missouri received $11,406,543 in ACP money. In 1990 it was $6,355,169, and in 1994 it is $6,518,000. The proposed budget for 1995 has cut ACP funds almost by 50%. Figuring the actual cuts in funding and the inflation factor since 1950, the ACP money in 1990 had eight percent of the purchasing power it had in 1950.

The key person that started the chain of events that actually changed the face of Missouri was Betty Broemmelsiek. Betty started as a Soil District Supervisor in St. Charles County and had been appointed to the Soil Districts Commission. In 1980, Betty furnished the leadership to get a cost share bill through the legislature. This was a bill allowing Missouri to spend tax money if they so desired on addressing erosion problems on Missouri soils. Betty was chairman of the Soil Districts Commission at the time and put together a lot of support for this bill around the state, including Governor Kit Bond. This turned out to be one of the real turning points in addressing the erosion problem in Missouri. Since the future for federal dollars didn’t look very bright, the efforts shifted to the state level. Fred Laffser, Director of Department of Natural Resources put $200,000 from 208 grant money into our new cost share bill to test our ability to address Missouri’s erosion problem.


The commission put this money into the Green Hills Special Area project. All of the erosion problems in this area were certainly not solved with the funding, but it did show that we could effectively get the money to where the problem was. In 1982, Governor Kit Bond put $1 million dollars into the budget for cost share funds and this was approved by the legislature. This was the first money allocated that went state wide to address our erosion problem. Also in 1982, the state legislature passed and Missouri citizens voted in a $600 million bond issue. As the sale of these bonds was then authorized by the legislature, we received four percent to address our erosion problems. This would amount to about $24 million, we were beginning to get significant funding in Missouri, much better than being solely dependent on the Legislature funding our program through General Revenue for less than $3 million a year statewide.

During testifying before the Missouri House of Representatives Agriculture Committee in 1982, Merle Doughty (then president of the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts) suggested using the 1/8 cent sales tax for Missouri Department of Conservation as a way of funding for addressing the erosion problem in Missouri. Almost immediately Representative Jerry Burch introduced a bill to take half of the 1/8 cent sales tax to address our erosion problems. The MASWCD voted to support this bill. Jerry got it assigned to the Agriculture Committee in the House and Senate which certainly helped. To almost everyone’s surprise, Jerry got it passed on the floor of the House. This really got the attention of the supporters of the Department of Conservation. Their plan was to block it in the Senate committee and then they wouldn’t have to worry about a Senate vote. After one hearing on the bill they sat on it for a long time. Finally there was another hearing scheduled, however, they stated that testifying would be a waste of time, their minds were made up. Merle Doughty testified anyway and convinced Senator Roger Wilson of the importance of addressing the erosion problem in Missouri. After the testimony the Committee voted to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Earnest lobbying followed. Every Senator that would listen was informed. This resulted in a defeat by three votes — close enough that it really opened some eyes.

When Leroy started putting his bill together, it was decided that we needed more broad support than just soil conservation supporters. The state park system in Missouri was also under DNR and was badly in need of money. Funding for the state parks and historical sites had come mostly from revenue sharing by way of the federal government. When the Reagan administration decided to cut this funding, Missouri’s state parks and historical sites were hurting. They had suffered through several years of cutbacks in funding from the Federal government, and Missouri’s legislature was unable to pick up the difference. Everyone involved agreed it would certainly strengthen the overall support for the bill to include state parks and historical sites in the bill. The idea of a 1/8 cent tax for soil conservation was decided to be possibly too confusing for the voters because of the 1/8 cent sales tax for the Conservation Department. It was decided to try for a 1/10 cent sales tax for soil conservation and state parks and historical sites.

Leroy’s 1/10 cent sales tax, which was known as House Joint Resolution 21, proceeded through channels on schedule. Merle, Chairman of the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Betty Broemmelsiek, Chairman of the Soil Districts Commission, testified frequently, whenever the opportunity arose. Don Wolf and his staff put together facts and figures regarding how the money would be used. The Farm Bureau leadership really wasn’t aware that we had a serious erosion problem. They were willing to defend the landowners rights to do whatever they wanted with the land under almost any and all circumstances. The support of Farm Bureau was needed to get the bill passed. John Handly, second vice-president of the Missouri Association and Soil District supervisor from Lafayette County, worked closely with Leroy and did an excellent job of keeping everyone up to date on what was going on. Leroy was able to get the bill assigned to the Agriculture Committee. Leroy had been in the Legislature long enough to have quite a bit of clout and was persistent in getting this bill through the Legislature the first session. Another favor for us was Jerry Burch’s bill to give us some of the Conservation Department’s 1/8 cent sales tax had gotten to both floors of the Legislature, and had created quite a stir. The Legislature was also searching for some way to fund the state parks system and we were providing a way.

As time was drawing near, it was becoming evident that the bill was not going to make it to the floor of the Senate. After spending days searching, John Handly finally came up with Senator Mike Lybyer, and farmer and cattleman from Huggins, who was interested in seeing the 1/10 cent sales tax enacted into law. He agreed to give up one of his spots on the Senate calendar so we could get HJR 21 on the floor of the Senate. This opportunity came in the last hour of the last day of the session. They had hoped to get it through exactly as the House had passed it, and then would be ready to go before Missouri voters for approval. However, it didn’t turn out that simple. Senator Phil Snowden from Gladstone introduced a resolution to reduce the sunset from 10 to 5 years. It passed. Then the resolution passed as amended by the Senate. Less than a half hour to closing time, Leroy was fit to be tied. He was furious. He grabbed the bill, took off for the House in a dead run, taking three steps at a time. No one could keep up with him. Leroy used all the political expertise he had accumulated over the years to get this bill back on the floor of the House before adjournment at midnight. At five minutes before twelve, it was brought before the House for approval as amended by the Senate. It passed. The last bill handled before the closing of the first regular session of the 82nd General Assembly.

Leroy had certainly done his job as he had promised. He had gotten it through the Legislature as it was originally written except it had a 5 year sunset instead of a 10 year sunset. We were elated to have the opportunity to bring this before Missouri voters. All of the groups involved did an excellent job of being where they needed to be when it was important, testifying when needed, contacting the legislators, and providing information pertinent to the tax. So many good people doing so many good things. It was a landmark piece of legislation ready to go before Missouri voters. This Constitutional Amendment was passed by the voters of Missouri on August 7, 1984, with a small majority (50.1%).

The funds from the Parks and Soils Sales Tax have enabled Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Missouri to offer innovative conservation programs and activities to the landowners and public. Missouri was the first state in the nation to approve a sales tax for soil conservation, and still is the only state with this sales tax. With a 5 year sunset clause written in the tax, the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Missouri Soil Districts Commission did not want to wait until the end of the tax to have the Legislature bring it back on the ballot for a vote. The Citizens Committee for Soil and Water Conservation and State Parks, which was very actively involved in the passage of the initial legislation, began working on bringing the tax back on the ballot in 1988. The Committee and the Legislature could not agree on this issue which resulted in an initiative petition drive to bring the sales tax back on the ballot in November 1988. This time the sunset clause was 10 years instead of the original 5 years. Without the assistance of all the agencies and individuals involved in the Citizens Committee, the tax would not have been renewed. The Co-Chairpersons of this Citizens Committee were Betty Broemmelsiek and Charlie Callison. Betty and Charlie put many many hours into this initiative petition.

Volunteers from Park Service, Farm Bureau, Conservation Federation, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Missouri Parks Association, Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, District employees and supervisors, and several other agencies and individuals spent many hours on Wal Mart parking lots gathering signatures for the petition. With everyone’s help in gathering and counting signatures, the initiative petition was successful in bringing the Parks and Soils Sales Tax back on the ballot November 8, 1988. The voters of Missouri again approved this by a 69% majority. Cost-share dollars spent from the Sales Tax totaled $17.3 million in Fiscal Year 1993 and the tons of soil saved through this was 8.8 million. Passage of the Sales Tax has coincided with a nearly complete withdrawal of state General Revenue support for both State Parks and Soil Conservation.

With the 10 year sunset clause, this tax was due to expire November 8, 1998. The Citizens Committee again initiated a petition drive due to the Legislature’s failed to place a renewal of the tax on the ballot. The big issue again was urban versus rural with urban areas wanting the tax dollars for stormwater control. The Co-Chairs of the Citizens Committee for this petition drive were Don Fischer and Darwin Hindman. Over 270,000 signatures were gathered to place the renewal issue on the November 5, 1996 ballot as Amendment 8. The renewal carried in all but 17 counties passing with a 66.6% vote. The sunset clause now plans for the tax to expire on November 8, 2008. The Legislature passed a resolution that put the renewal on the ballot and also included language that would automatically put the tax renewal on the ballot without the need for a petition drive or the action of the Legislature at the end of the sunset date.  This was on the August 8, 2006 ballot and the measure passed with a 76% majority. The renewal of the sales tax is set again for 2016. The Citizens Committee created a website to provide information on the renewal efforts — www.soilwaterparks.com. This time the sales tax passed in every county in the state and a total approval of 80% state-wide.



The first president of the Missouri Association was Don Pharis of Clay County who believed strongly in example. His own farm was among the first to be completely terraced in Clay County and he regarded anyone who farmed row crops up and down the hills as little better than an idiot. He was highly articulate and persuasive as a speaker, and a pretty fair piano man for barbershop singing.

Next in line was B. H. Feldewert of St. Charles County in 1950. The German Catholics of his District had always a high regard for the techniques of good farming, so they were a little easier to sell on Soil and Water Conservation than others in Missouri. Besides his work as State President, his leadership has brought many honors to St. Charles County, such as the Goodyear Award in 1962.

 1954 Board of Directors, Missouri Association of Soil Conservation Districts.  Standing, left to right:  Floyd ‘Jack’ Dunn; Howard C. Jackson, advisory member; Virgil Stanley; James A. Schooling; Louis Elzea.  Seated left to right:  Robert S. McClelland, Secretary; Nolen J. Fuqua, Duncan, Oklahoma, President of the NASCD; Lester C. Lutes, president; and A. H. Webb.

The next State President in 1951 was John A. Childers of Gentry County. While nothing very spectacular occurred in his administration, the Association was still very much in its infancy. John was a good, substantial man and farmer whose neighbors followed him through affection and respect.Henry Blesi of Franklin county was the next State head in 1952, and combined dairying and deer hunting and square dancing with running the Association so skillfully that he looked good in all of them.

James A. Schooling, of Lafayette County, was State President in 1953. Jim was a fighter which was fortunate for both the Association and his own District. Lafayette was organized with only two townships in one of the largest and most productive farm counties in Missouri, and was the scene of the fiercest battles in our history. Every form of abuse and calumny was used against forming the District, including big newspaper ads and vituperative mail box pieces. Even after the favorable vote was counted, the new Supervisors had to defend a court action to destroy it. Judge Schooling brought Lafayette safely through these perils. By 1957 all townships joined the District and now also includes Tabo Creek Watershed. Mr. Schooling also served as a member of the State Commission.

Lester C. Lutes of Worth County served as President in 1954 and 1955. State and national leaders in government were either indifferent to our welfare or actively opposed to the State Association. We had only the farm people with us and they were largely inarticulate. With newspaper training and experience, Lester worked toward getting all possible publicity for the plight of Soil and Water Conservation. It appears that this was the beginning of both the Missouri and the National Associations steady upward plane of increased power and popularity.

The next President was Ancel Webb of Pemiscot County from 1956 to 1958. With the major battle won, Ancel did much to heal wounds in Missouri agriculture and consolidate gains. Ancel served his constitutional limit as Director of NACD. Under his presidency, Missouri was for the first time, host to a National Convention, at St. Louis in February, 1957.

In 1959, Vincent Spire of Nodaway County served as President. He used both his qualities of astuteness and persuasiveness, extensively and effectively in Jefferson City securing legislative passage of liberalizing changes in the enabling law, and also got approval of a law to implement Missouri use of Public Law #566, the national act for forming Small Watersheds. Nelson Tinnin of Dunklin County, State President in 1960, easily got the respect and cooperation he expected from everyone. He also served as State Senator following his time as State President.

  1. L. Gruber of Lafayette County was the State President in 1961. He received a great enjoyment from the honor of heading his Association. “Bill” or “Louie”, as he was sometimes called, believed that the best way to get a job done was to work at it.

George Montgomery of Harrison County was the State President in 1962. His large farm was a show place on U.S. Highway 69 and was the site of the National Plowing Matches and Soil Conservation Field Days in 1951. He had the exclusive distinction of having won the Goodyear Award trip to Arizona twice, once as a cooperator in 1948, and later as Chairman of the Harrison Board in 1958. His wife Delores also had a notable record in Soil Conservation, having served as National Vice-President of the Ladies Auxiliary in 1959.

From 1963 to 1965, Ed Prigel of Johnson County headed the State Association. During Ed’s presidency, the Missouri Association and the Kansas Association were joint hosts to the NACD Convention of 1964 in Kansas City. Many compliments were heard from those attending, that this was the warmest hospitality ever encountered. His wife Betty was also actively involved in Soil Conservation as President of the State Ladies Auxiliary. The Prigel achievement is all the more remarkable because they, being young people, had a family of children at home, a lot of livestock to care for, and about six hundred acres to farm.

From 1966 to 1968, Harley Bogue of Clay County served as State President. During his time as President, Harley hosted a group of District Supervisors and Watershed Trustees from Harrison County to see what could be done about a problem getting the necessary easements in their PL 566 small watershed project. Eventually this group, along with Supervisors from across the state, set a meeting with the State Legislature and the outcome was obtaining the Power of Eminent Domain. The State Association still has the Power, Harley stated that Clay County used it once he knew of. Harley and his wife Sue have attended every Annual Training Conference for the Missouri Association from 1962 to present. They have also attended every NACD Regional Meeting since 1965, and all but 2 National NACD Conventions since 1964. Harley also served as Vice-President of the Upper Mississippi Area (as it was called then) from 1968 until 1973. He also served on the Missouri Soil Districts Commission from 1974 to 1979. Sue served as President for the Ladies Auxiliary for 3 years and as Vice-President for 4 years.

From 1969 to 1970, Andre Luys of Jasper County served as State President. He was always promoting soil and water conservation work. Jasper County was one of the early Districts to have a District newsletter. Andy was always getting someone’s name and address to mail their newsletter to. He sent them all over the United States. His wife Peggy also served as President of the Ladies Auxiliary. Andy also served on the Missouri Soil Districts Commission from 1974 to 1979.

George Trial served as State President in 1971 and 1972. He was from Boone County. George was retired from military service. He had purchased a small farm west of Columbia and was very interested in forestry. He served as chairman of the Forestry Committee for Missouri. His wife Nadine served as President of the Ladies Auxiliary.

Rex Hollenbeck of Shelby County was the next State President in 1973. Rex had a herd of long-horn cattle which was rather unique at that time. His wife Marianne also served as President of the Ladies Auxiliary.

In 1974, Andre Luys of Jasper County, was called back to serve two more years as President of the Association. In the meantime he had won national honors for the Jasper County District newsletter. He and Peggy again held high the torch of conservation and did a fine job.

In 1976, Floyd “Jack” Dunn of Scotland County was elected as President of the Association. Jack came with a long background in District work. He helped to organize the District in Scotland County and became one of the first supervisors in 1945. He and his wife Mary Edith were very dedicated. Jack chose to serve only one year.

Fred Moutrie served as State President in 1977 and 1978. Fred was from Ripley County.

David Brewer of Mississippi County was elected as President in 1979 and served both 1979 and 1980. David was well aware of the problems in the bootheel area.

Merle Doughty served as President in 1981 and 1982. Merle was from Livingston County. Merle was a person with a strong determination. A person who does not accept no for an answer. He is the person who was responsible for getting the 1/10 cent sales tax for soil and water conservation and state parks enacted. Few know the hours and miles he traveled over the state and to Jefferson City getting the people to get behind him to get the sales tax provision past the Missouri Legislature. His wife Mildred had to fill in at the farm while Merle was away. Mildred also did a very good job with the Ladies Auxiliary program.

Eugene Ehlmann of St. Charles County, served as President 1983 and 1984. Gene worked side by side with Merle Doughty getting the sales tax passed. His wife Betty was supporting him and also did an excellent job with the Ladies Auxiliary. She served as President of the Auxiliary for several years.

John Handly served as President 1985 and 1986. John was from Lafayette County. Lafayette County is noted for soil and water conservation practices and its small watershed structures that it has built. John was always pushing for legislative help, especially among his Democratic friends. His wife taught school and was not able to be with him a lot of the time.

In 1987 Arthur Duncan of New Madrid County was elected President. He served from 1987 to 1990. Arthur was instrumental in finding a way to get a paid employee of the Association to keep track of the many activities going on across the state. He has been very active with the soil and water program. During his Presidency, in 1989, the Association began sponsorship of a medical benefit program which provided medical insurance coverage for District employees and local cooperators across Missouri, and also generated funding to the Association. However, due to administrative problems, this program was dissolved in 1994. In 1988, under the direction of Arthur, the initiative petition drive for the renewal of the sales tax was completed. He was elected to the Board of Directors of NACD in 1993 and is currently serving in this capacity.

Ben Rogers of Cole County was elected as President in 1991. Ben was been very active in his district and the State Association for several years. In fact, Ben was a member of the Missouri Legislature when the Soil Conservation Act was passed in 1943. He was one of the organizers of the District in Cole County in 1974 and has served as Chairman since then.

Jeff Otto of Knox County was elected President in 1992. Jeff has also served on the NACD Watershed Committee. Jeff helped lead the Citizens Committee in the endeavor to renew the sales tax a second time. His wife Leah is served as President of the Ladies Auxiliary.

Steve Hopper of Livingston County was elected President in November, 1996. Steve also worked very hard on both petition renewals of the sales tax. Steve has expanded the Committee system for the Association to include more local Supervisors. A Leadership Development plan has begun to be implemented under his guidance through grant funds provided by NRCS.

Soil Stewardship Proclamation Signing

In December of 1999 Eli Mast of Douglas County was elected President. Steve Hopper did not run again due to being elected to the NACD Executive Board representing the North Central Region. Eli served his 4 terms as limited by the by-laws.

Steve Oetting of Lafayette County was elected President in December 2003.  Steve will have some challenging years going into another renewal of the parks and soils sales tax.

Fred Feldmann of Vernon County was elected President in December 2006 and will serve a term for 2 years.  With by-law changes the officer structure was changed to a 2-year term for President with a President Elect added in order to provide more continuity to the leadership.

2004 MASWCD Board of Directors

Standing (left to right):  Harry Robbins, Tom Lambert, Jim Hubert.

Sitting (left to right):  Laura McKeever, Donald Jordan, Kathryn Braden, David Dix, Beverly Dometrorch, Ernie Calvert, Sarah Fast, Steve Oetting, Eli Mast.

December 2008 officer elections changed the leadership again.  Steve Radcliff of Livingston County was elected President.  Also at this meeting the bylaws were changed again and the President-elect was removed from the bylaws.  Steve served his allowed 4 years and the election in November 2012 changed leadership again, Kenny Lovelace of Marion County was elected as President.

Kenny served 4 years according to the term and at the election in November 2016 Ryan Britt of Clifton Hill was elected President. Ryan raises corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle with his father and brother-in-law.

Due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 coronavirus the Training Conference for 2020 was cancelled and the elections for Area Director and officers was handled through email and conference calls. The officer election resulted in Ron Willis of Andrew County being elected President. Ryan Britt had served his 4 years as allowed by the bylaws. Ron and his sons Michael and Matthew operate their crop farm near King City with soil health practices by no-tilling and using cover crops. Ron is also one of the NACD Soil Health Champions.

The real authority in the Missouri Association is in the hands of its directors. They are elected by the members, while Presidents are presiding officers elected by the directors. There is no formal record to cover the list of all those who served as Area Directors.



 Ladies Auxiliary

 The Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1952 by Mrs. Fletcher Dalbey of Nodaway County. By 1966 the time had long passed that the Missouri Association could be considered a male group. During the 1960’s and 1970’s the Ladies Auxiliary increased in interest and numbers. However, due to the changes in lifestyles, etc., in the 1980’s and 1990’s many more women are working away from home and not attending Auxiliary functions, and the Auxiliary membership has suffered. The Auxiliary does have its own historian with the rest of their story. Due to insufficient membership to carry out the Auxiliary activities, it was disbanded in 1995. The records and materials of the Auxiliary were turned over to the Association to hold for a time when it may be reactivated.


Department of Natural Resources                    

Bob McClelland was the first Executive Secretary for the Commission and can no more be delineated here than could nuclear fission. He was employed by the State of Missouri, through the Soil Districts Commission. His loyalty was wholeheartedly to the farm people and he did everything in his great power to advance the cause of Soil Districts. Yet the people who could fire him were either indifferent to or in active opposition to that program. But his personal charm was so tremendous, and his sense of the right word and action so acute that he left the job without duress in 1957 to work in the larger field of the National Association. Miss Mabel Stewart of Columbia was on the job the day the Commission office was opened for the first time. The extra workload, occasioned by the spectacular growth in number of Districts, was also reflected by the employment of a part-time clerk typist.

His successor was Harold Slusher, a brilliant man and retired county Agent from Callaway County. His problems were by now somewhat less acute than those of McClelland, but still made heavy demands on his resourcefulness and tact. At his retirement in 1961, he had made substantial gains for the program.

The third man of the trio is Harold Owens from the DeKalb District. Like the others he had served as a County Agent. He is unspectacular and unassuming, but in terms of actual accomplishment, which is not a bad way to measure a man, his work exceeds the total of both his predecessors. In fact he increased the work load of his job to the point that the Commission employed Lee Norbury in 1965 as Assistant Executive Secretary. Mr. Norbury gave every evidence of pulling his share of the load, and took over as Director when Harold left.

The fifth Director of Staff for the Soil Districts Commission is Don Wolf. Don was raised on a farm in Iowa, has a degree in agriculture, and was a fighter pilot in Vietnam. After 22 years in the Air Force, he came to Jefferson City looking for a job in agriculture. The director of staff position was open and DNR hired him on the spot in 1978. Don and his staff have managed the state funds that go for our soil conservation efforts that get the most conservation on the land for the least amount of money possible. They have come up with innovative grants and cost shares and matching funds that have been models for other states. To get an increase in soil conservation funding, as we have in the past few years onto the land without wasting much of that money, is unprecedented, but Don Wolf, his staff, and the Districts have done it. Since the inception of the sales tax, the staff has increased to a current level of 25. Don retired in 1995.

His successor is Sarah Fast.  Sarah is a native Missourian. She received her bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and her master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Washington State University at Pullman. .As the sixth Director of Staff for the Soil Districts Commission, Sarah has several challenges ahead. The program has continued to grow with the continuance of the Parks and Soils Tax, the budget now exceeds $30 million per year.  

In February 2007, Sarah Fast took another position with the Department of Natural Resources and Bill Foster (currently DNR Ombudsman) was selected as Interim Director for the Program.  Bill Foster was moved into the Director of the Program later in 2007.  With the change of the Governor in January 2009, several Department Directors were replaced, and Bill Foster was one of those. 

The new Director was named in June 2009.  Bryan Hopkins had been with DNR for several years, working with the Missouri River, Mississippi River and Hypoxia issues.  Because of his experience with river issues, Bryan was reassigned within DNR to work closer with river issues and Colleen Meredith was brought back to the Program Office, this time as the Director in January 2012. Colleen retired in April 2020. Kurt Boeckmann was hired as the Director of the Soil and Water Program in DNR in November 2020. Kurt had previously worked in the Soil and Water Program and most recently as the Agricultural Liaison for DNR.


Missouri Soil Districts Commission

The Missouri Soil Districts Commission is appointed by the Governor, and oversees the funding of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts as well as the Soil and Water Program in the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The Commission and the Soil and Water Program Office submit the budget to the Legislature and the Missouri Association steps in with the lobbying efforts to make sure the budget is approved as submitted or with increases that are deemed necessary. In 1995 the Legislature passed a bill which increased the Commission from 5 farmer members to 6 farmer members, 3 from north of the Missouri River and 3 from south of the Missouri River.


Missouri Soil Districts Commissioners:

F. V. Heinkel 1943-1948 John Schaeffer 1991-1995
J. E. Noll 1943-1945 Dan Jennings 1991-1995
Ronnie F. Greenwell 1943-1948 Jim Scaggs 1994-1996
J. Ed Rutter 1946-1948 Elizabeth Brown 1994-2007
L. C. Carpenter 1949-1952 John Wood 1995-1999
Howard Shirkey 1949-1952 Arthur Duncan 1995-1999
Nelson Tinnin 1949-1957 Galen McPheeters 1996-1999
Preston Walker 1953-1966 Amy Hamilton 1996-1999
Flint McRoberts 1953-1957 Don Loveland 1996-1997
Howard Shirkey 1958-1958 Leland Burch 1998-2004
Howard Taylor 1958-1973 Charles Keller 1999-2000
James A. Schooling 1959-1973 Larry Furbeck 1999-2005
James Caldwell 1967-1973 Kirby VanAusdall 1999-2005
Betty Broemmelsiek 1974-1981 Peter Hofherr 1999-2001
Andre Luys 1974-1978 John Alyward 2000-2007
Harley Bogue           1974-1978 Philip Luebbering 2001-2005
Rex Hollenbeck 1974-1976 Leon Kreisler 2004-2009
Elmer Kinkade 1974-1978 Kathryn Braden 2005-2013
Bill Anderson 1977-1981 Richard Fordyce 2005-2014
Burnie Huff 1979-1981 Baughan Meredith 2005-2009
Terry Dolan 1979-1981 Dan Devlin 2008-2010
K. M. Streeter 1979-1981 Kathleen Carpenter 2008-2009
Harold Clark 1982-1985 Gary Vandiver 2009
George Trial 1982-1988 Bill Ransdall 2009-2009
Maurice Happel 1982-1985 Thomas Bradley 2009-2015
John Byrd 1982-1985 Charles Ausfahl 2010-2016
Don Fischer 1982-1993 H. Ralph Gaw 2013
Merle Doughty 1986-1986 Jeffrey Lance 2015
Jim McRoberts 1986-1990 Tim Martin 2016
Dan Clemens 1986-1990 Glen Cope 2016-2019
Harvey Grotjan 1987-1993 Kenny Lovelace 2018
Kent Kurtz 1989-1995 Keith Stevens 2019


Natural Resources Conservation Service        

Kenyon “K. G.” Harmon was the first State Conservationist in Missouri, from 1935 to 1958. At K. G.’s retirement in 1958, Howard C. Jackson, who was Assistant State Conservationist under him, was morally entitle to the job of State Chief. But there was a new national administration by then, and a Kestenbaum Commission which recommended that the Natural Resources Conservation Service no longer be an independent agency of the Department of Agriculture, but be absorbed in a vast hegemony of services to farmers. Agriculture Secretary Ezra Benson proceeded to try to implement this idea and might conceivably have done so, but for the might roar that came from the national’s Soil District supervisors, and Congress turned the deal down.

Chief Bennett emerged from retirement, and waving his prepared text in one hand and his spectacles in the other, before the National Association Convention at San Diego, California, in 1955, proceeded to flay the hide off the idea and its sponsors. Howard Jackson, for being too openly in opposition to the death of his beloved Service, instead of getting his promotion to State Conservationist, was in danger of outright dismissal, but was not with the help of a few powerful Missourians. The new State Conservationist named was Oscar C. Bruce from Pennsylvania, from 1958 to 1961. Mr. Bruce was a good man, but nearing retirement, and with no Missouri background or contacts, was content to let Howard pretty much run the State Office. Howard C. Jackson served from 1961 to 1970.

  1. Vernon “Swede” Martin served as State Conservationist from April 1970 to 1975. He began his career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1941 and subsequently served in several positions in Florida and Oklahoma before his appointment as Assistant State Conservationist in Auburn, Alabama, and later in Columbia, Missouri. In 1975 Vernon was promoted to director of the SCS South Technical Service Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

In 1975, Kenneth G. McManus took over as head of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missouri. McManus came to Missouri from Fort Worth where he served as the assistant director of the South Technical Service Center since 1973. He has worked infield offices in Michigan where he also was state resource conservationist and assistant state conservationist, as well as assistant state conservationist in Iowa.

When Kenneth McManus retired in October 1981, Paul Larson, who had been deputy state conservationist in Missouri since 1975, was promoted to State Conservationist. Mr. Larson began his career in NRCS as a student trainee and over the years held the positions of range conservationist, district conservationist, and area conservationist. Paul Larson was promoted to director of NRCS’s South National Technical Center in Fort Worth, Texas in December 1987.

Russ Mills was named Acting State Conservationist after Paul Larson’s promotion until a permanent replacement was confirmed. Russ Mills was officially appointed State Conservationist March 6, 1988. He has been affiliated with NRCS since 1967, serving as Student Trainee, Soil Conservationist, and District and Area Conservationists in Ohio and Missouri. Russ retired in 1995.

Roger Hansen was named State Conservationist shortly after Russ retired. A native of DeWitt, Iowa, Roger grew up on a working farm.  He attended the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Management in 1969.  He began his career with SCS in 1968.  In 1978 he was selected for the SCS Graduate Study Program and detailed to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he earned a Master of Public Administration Degree in 1979.  Roger was Deputy State Conservationist in Maine and Ohio before coming to Missouri as State Conservationist.  The Soil Conservation Service is now named the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  This change was effective November 1994.  Roger retired on June 3, 2009 after 41 years with NRCS. 

  1. R. Flores was named the new State Conservationist in July 2009 and officially started in the position on August 30.  The first week of his new position was the week of MASWCD Area Meetings and J. R. managed to attend 3 of the meetings that week.  He was the State Conservationist in North Dakota before coming to Missouri. J. R. retired in December 2019.

Scott Edwards was appointed as the Missouri State Conservationist in April 2020. He has worked for the agency for 26 years having worked in Louisiana and Mississippi. He was raised in a small rural town in central Texas. He worked on his grandfather’s farm through high school and college and his father was a vo-ag teacher.


Missouri Department of Conservation     

In August of 2001, the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Missouri Department of Conservation entered into a cooperative agreement to offer cost-share incentives to landowners participating in MO CREP practices CP2 and CP4D and establishing native grass to improve their enrolled acres for quail and other wildlife species.  Following that, in June 2003 another agreement (CRP-BOB) was signed to offer incentives to landowners participating in CRP desiring to improve their enrolled acres for quail and other wildlife species.  A total of $190,000 has been made available for MOCREP cost-share incentives, and $100,000 for CRP-BOB incentives.  Another initiative for MOCREP was started in July 2006 with $1 million being granted to MASWCD to offer incentive payments to landowners in CRP for certain wildlife friendly practices.  With the new incentive program the original MOCREP agreement will be phased out by the end of 2007.   The CRP-BOB agreement will be phased out by the end of June 2009.  The MOCREP incentive agreement continues to be an ongoing activity. Monarch initiatives were added to the M/dc incentives in 2016. In 2020 a soil and atr cost-share piggy-back program was initiated.


District Employees Association

The Missouri District Employees Association was organized in February 1987 with Rob Hill of Pettis County serving as the first President. The Association has had a slow beginning, but has really started gaining momentum the past few years. The Association was actively involved in helping the Missouri Association with the medical benefit program. Following Rob as President in 1989 was Peggy Humes of Platte County and David Cain of Carroll County in 1991. Ben Reed of Barton County was elected in November 1993.  He served until 2008 when he stepped down and the Presidency was taken by Shelly Sumpter of Randolph County.  In 2010 the Presidency changed again.  Sandy Hutchison of Maries County became the new President for the District Employees. Sandy served until 2016 when Matt Blansett of Callaway County took over the Presidency. Matt served for 2 years and then turned the Presidency over to Melissa White from Stone County in the summer of 2018.

The District Employees Association uses the same Area boundaries as the Missouri Association and 2 representatives are elected from each of the 8 areas to serve on the Board. Most of the Area Representatives have begun having meetings and training for the District employees in their respective areas. They were instrumental in drafting a Human Resource Policy for District employees and supervisors, and have been involved in Total Quality Management Training, the Task Force for Employee Training, and the Leadership Development Committee. They also have representatives serving on the NRCS State Technical Committee and the DNR Plan for the Future Committees.

The District Employees Association has been the leading force in the efforts of obtaining funds for benefits for district employees and additional funding for District Assistance for employee salary funds. Their efforts are being put to the task this year in the Legislature.



Farmers as a group have a firsthand knowledge of the part played by Divine Providence in their work as sowers and reapers, and so are generally more devout than groups less directly concerned with His manifestations in Nature. One of the best-attended and most popular features of State and National Conventions is the Sunday Evening Vesper Service. The first such Service at a National Convention was the one held in St. Louis in 1957.


Multiflora Rose and Tree Planting Demonstration.

Over the years the Districts and the Missouri Association have sponsored numerous programs including Speech Contests, State Plowing Matches, Poster Contests, Essay Contests, Soils Judging Contests, Pasture Judging Contests, Forage Day Tours, Teacher Workshops, and many other Field Days. Marion County held the first Conservation Air Tour in May 1953. 160 county residents flew over a scheduled route to view ponds, terraces, grass waterways, and contour farming. Marion County was also the location of the first State Plowing Contest, August 6, 1957. 25 committees worked to make this a successful event. It was held near Palmyra with 15,000 spectators.

1960 Poster Contest – Ripley County

1990 Teacher Workshop – Cole County


     1993 Deep Plowing – Callaway County

                         Dent County Tour

The Envirothon was organized under the MASWCD structure in 1997.  Since then the program has grown to 7 regional competitions and a state competition for those teams qualifying at the regions.  In 2000 the Missouri Envirothon Committee put in a bid to host the 2005 Canon Envirothon.  This bid was accepted and through the efforts of the planning for this host event, the program has strengthened to the point of being able to become a stand-alone program with its own structure and tax exempt status. MASWCD is still one of the major sponsors of the program.  The name of the organization was changed from Canon Envirothon to North American Envirothon in September 2012.  In 2007-2011 the Missouri team has placed in the top 5 at the North American Envirothon earning each team member a scholarship ranging from $1500 to $4000. They placed first in the 2012 competition outscoring 53 teams from across the United States and Canada, winning a $5,000 scholarship for each of the team members. Again in 2015 the Missouri team placed first among 53 teams and they placed second in 2018 just missing first by .9 of a point.

soils id fav

tree ring counting

Soils Aquatics Forestry Wildlife

In 1989, acting upon a request of the District Employees Association, the Association began sponsorship of a medical benefit program. This program made medical insurance available to District employees and supervisors and local cooperators. The program prospered quickly and by 1991 over 800 people were participating in the medical coverage. However, due to administrative problems and changes in rates and coverage, the membership started to decline and the program was dissolved in March 1994. In 1996 the Districts became eligible to participate in the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan for health insurance for District employees as well as District Supervisors. In 2000 there was a determination made by Missouri Consolidated Health Care that board members participating in the health care plan must have $50 per month paid by their board.  Since the Missouri Soil and Water District board members are volunteers and are not paid, they were considered ineligible for the health insurance.  Those who were already on the health care plan were allowed to stay on until they leave their board.  With the efforts of the District Employees Association, funding for medical benefits and retirement was secured through the Legislature in 2000.  Now every district employee in the state has the opportunity to have part of their health insurance premium paid from these funds.  Due to high premiums for the districts because of the small groups of 2-4 employees per group an initiative was started early in 2007 to put all 300 district employees together in one group with the premium for the employees paid by DNR with the benefit funds.  This came to be a reality starting in January 2009.  Also a retirement benefit was set up with each district setting up their own retirement plan with funding through the benefit funds that is currently set at 5% of their salary. The retirement benefit was increased to 7% in 2016. In 2018 it was brought to light that the current retirement plans for the soil and water districts did not allow them to continue their health insurance into retirement. So a legislative campaign was put in place to make changes to the state statute to allow soil and water districts to participate in the LAGERS retirement plan. This was a successful campaign with districts joining the LAGERS program starting in the fall of 2018.

In 1990, during the prosperity of the medical program, the funding generated made it possible for the Association to hire a part-time Executive Director, Jim Scaggs, a supervisor from Iron County. During this time a Conservation Districts Foundation was organized to handle the funding from the medical program and possibly offer grants to the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Missouri. Since the medical program was dissolved, funding for the Foundation will be obtained from endowment grants in order to continue with the desire to offer grants to the Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Jim resigned the Executive Director position in September of 1992, and was followed by Peggy Lemons, as part-time Executive Secretary. Peggy is also District Manager in the Cole County District office. In December 2003 the title was changed from Executive Secretary to Executive Director.

Numerous events have altered the direction of priorities of soil conservation work in Missouri over the years. Most notable have been the approval of the Parks and Soils Sales Tax, FSA Compliance, and the Floods of 1973,1993 and 1995. One impact from the Flood of 1993 was the cancellation and rescheduling of the Annual Training Conference. The hotel scheduled to hold the State Training Conference was surrounded by flood waters during that week. Traditionally the Training Conference had always been held in July or August, however, due to circumstances, it was rescheduled for the end of November, 1993. There was a record attendance of just over 700 and evaluations received after that conference indicated that time of year was preferred over July or August. The State Training Conference has continued to be held the week following Thanksgiving since then.



State Training Conferences

1949 Springfield Southwest MO State University
1950 Fulton Westminster College
1952 Cape Girardeau Southeast MO State University
1955 August 14-16 Hannibal Hannibal-LaGrange College
1962 Fulton Westminster College
1963 August 4-6 St. Louis Washington University
1964 July 28 Columbia University of Missouri
1965 July Maryville Northwest MO State University
1966 July 24-26 Kirksville Northeast MO State University
1967 July Cape Girardeau Southeast MO State University
1968 August 4-6 Warrensburg Central MO State University
1969 August 17-19 Springfield Southwest MO State University
1970 August 16-18 Kirksville Northeast MO State University

July 25-27

Columbia Stephens College
1972 July 30-Aug 1 Maryville Northwest MO State University
1973 July 22-24 Fulton William Woods College
1974 July 21-23 Warrensburg Central MO State University
1975 July 20-22 Springfield Southwest MO State University
1976 August 8-10 St. Louis Washington University
1977 July 17-19 Fulton William Woods College
1978 July 30-Aug 1 Columbia Stephens College
1979 August 5-7 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1980 August 3-5 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1981 July 26-28 Columbia Ramada Inn
1982 July 10-20 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1983 July 31-Aug 2 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1984 August 6-7 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1985 August 1-2 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1986 August 4-5 Jefferson City Ramada Inn
1987 August 3-4 Columbia Holiday Inn
1988 August 1-2 Columbia Holiday Inn
1989 August 10-11 Columbia Holiday Inn
1990 August 1-3 Columbia Holiday Inn
1991 August 7-9 Jefferson City Capital Plaza
1992 August 5-7 Jefferson City Capital Plaza
1993 Nov 29-Dec 1 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
1994 November 28-30 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
1995 November 27-29 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
1996 December 2-4 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
1997 50th December 1-3 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
1998 Nov 30-Dec 2 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
1999 Nov 29-Dec 1 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2000 Nov 27-29 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2001 Nov 26-28 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2002 December 2-4 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2003 December 1-3 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2004 Nov 29-Dec 1 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2005 Nov 28-30 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2006 Nov 27-29 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2007 Nov 26-28 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2008 December 1-3 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2009 Nov 30-Dec 2 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2010 Nov 29-Dec 1 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2011 Nov 28-30 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2012 Nov 25-28 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2013 Dec 15-18 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2014 Dec 9-12 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2015 Nov 29-Dec 2 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2016 Nov 27-30 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2017 Nov 26-29 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2018 Nov 26-28 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2019 Dec 2-4 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
2020 Nov 29-Dec 2 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort
  Cancelled due to the unprecedented COVID-19 Coronavirus
2021 Nov 28-Dec 1 Osage Beach Tan-Tar-A Resort

The Missouri Association has been host to the National Convention three times: in 1957, 1964, and 1997. The 1957 National Convention was held in St. Louis, February 4-7. The 1964 National Convention was held in Kansas City, February 2-6. The 1997 National Convention was held in Kansas City, February 2-6.   (Complete information on the early meetings from 1949 to 1963 is not available)


National Conventions

1951   Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  
1953   Omaha, Nebraska  
1954   New Orleans, Louisiana  
1955   San Diego, California  
1957   St. Louis, Missouri  
1964   Kansas City, Missouri Muelbauch Hotel
1965 February 6-10 Portland, Oregon Hilton Hotel
1966 February 6-10 New Orleans, Louisiana Jung Hotel
1967 February 5-9 Cincinnati, Ohio Sheridan-Gibson Hotel
1968 February 3-7 Dallas, Texas Statler Hilton
1969 February 2-6 Atlanta, Georgia Regency Hyatt House
1970 February 1-5 San Francisco, California San Francisco Hilton
1971 February 14-18 Chicago, Illinois Pick Congress Hotel
1972 February 11-17 Washington, D.C. Washington Hilton Hotel
1973 February 11-15 Las Vegas, Nevada Las Vegas Hilton
1974 February 10-14 Houston, Texas Regency Hyatt Hotel
1975 February 2-6 Denver, Colorado Denver Hilton
1976 February 1-5 Honolulu, Hawaii Hilton Hawaiian Village
1977 February 6-10 Atlanta, Georgia Peachtree Center Plaza
1978 February 5-9 Los Angeles, California Disneyland Hotel
1979 February 11-14 Washington, D.C. Washington Hilton
1980 February 10-14 Houston, Texas Shamrock Hilton
1981 February 1-5 San Francisco, California San Francisco Hilton
1982 February 7-11 Phoenix, Arizona Hyatt Regency Hotel
1983 February 6-10 New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans Hilton
1984 February 5-9 Denver, Colorado Hilton Hotel
1985 February 3-7 Honolulu, Hawaii Sheraton Waikiki
1986 February 2-6 Nashville, Tennessee Opryland Hotel
1987 February 1-5 Reno, Nevada MGM Hotel
1988 February 7-11 Little Rock, Arkansas Little Rock Excelsior
1989 February 5-9 Salt Lake City, Utah Salt Palace Convention Center
1990 February 4-7 San Diego, California Town & Country Estate
1991 February 3-7 Atlanta, Georgia Westin Peachtree Plaza
1992 February 2-6 Reno, Nevada Bally’s Reno
1993 February 7-11 Orlando, Florida Hyatt Orlando
1994 Jan 28-Feb 4 Phoenix, Arizona Phoenix Convention Center
1995 February 5-9 New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans Marriott
1996 50th February 4-8 Las Vegas, Nevada Riviera Hotel
1997 February 2-6 Kansas City, Missouri Crown Center Hyatt / Westin
1998 February 1-5 Nashville, Tennessee Opryland Hotel
1999 Jan 31-Feb 4 San Diego, California Town & Country Hotel
2000 Jan 30-Feb 3 Colorado Springs, Colorado Broadmoor Hotel
2001 February 4-8 Fort Worth, Texas Fort Worth Convention Center
2002 February 3-7 Reno, Nevada The Nugget Hotel
2003 February 9-13 Orlando, Florida Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
2004 February 1-5 Waikoloa, Hawaii Hilton Waikoloa Village
2005 February 7-12 Atlanta, Georgia Marriott Hotel
2006 Jan 29–Feb 2 Houston, Texas Hilton Americas
2007 February 4-8 Las Angeles, California Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites
2008 February 10-13 Reno, Nevada The Nugget Hotel
2009 February 1-4 New Orleans, Louisiana Sheraton New Orleans
2010 Jan 31-Feb 3 Orlando, Florida Walt Disney World Hilton
2011 Jan 30-Feb 2 Nashville, Tennessee Gaylord Opryland Resort
2012 Jan 29-Feb 1 Las Vegas, Nevada The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
2013 January 27-30 San Antonio, Texas Marriott River Center
2014 February 2-5 Anaheim, California Anaheim Marriott

February 1-4

New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans Marriott
2016 Jan 31-Feb 3 Reno, Nevada Grand Sierra Resort & Casino
2017 Jan 29-Feb 1 Denver, Colorado Sheraton Denver Downtown
2018 January 27-31 Nashville, Tennessee Gaylord Opryland Resort
2019 February 3-6 San Antonio Marriott River Center
2020 February 8-12 Las Vegas Bally’s Las Vegas
2021 February 5-10 New Orleans

Changed to virtual due to COVID-19




Years Districts Organized


ADAIR 1964 LINN 1967
BATES 1967 MARION 1948
CASS 1967 OSAGE 1970
CEDAR 1964 OZARK 1972
CLARK 1944 PETTIS 1973
CLAY 1944 PHELPS 1977
CLINTON 1968 PIKE 1945
COLE 1974 PLATTE 1973
COOPER 1974 POLK 1965
DADE 1958 PUTNAM 1963
DALLAS 1969 RALLS 1949
DEKALB 1944 RAY 1945
GREENE 1969 ST. LOUIS 1954
HOLT 1974 SHANNON 1962
IRON 1973 STONE 1965
JASPER 1964 TANEY 1966
KNOX 1964 WARREN 1964
LEWIS 1959 WORTH 1944