Menard County SWCD #215

Annual Activities

Annual Friend of Conservation Award

Leadership Development Workshop -February

Poster and Essay Contests - February

Poster and Essay Award Presentations – March/April

Area II Awards Banquet - May

Soil and Water Stewardship Week  - April/May

Hill Country Association Spring Meeting - May

TSSRM Youth Range Workshop Meal - June

SWCD Educator Workshop Meal - June

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon - August

4th & 5th  Grade Conservation Field Day - September

 CEU Training – October

Annual TSSWCB State Convention - October

4th Grade Arbor Day Tree Planting - November

High School Conservation Seminar - November


Dr. Jake Landers was selected as Menard County SWCD’s Friend of Conservation.

This honor is given to someone who promotes conservation in the community, county and state.  Jake does all of that by being involved in any event that includes learning a little or a lot about conservation. Menard County SWCD #215 is proud to have Jake represent us as our Friend of Conservation. Thank you  Dr. Landers for sharing your time, effort and knowledge with all of us.

Read more about 

Dr. Landers' award-winning 


Dr Jake Landers receives Menard County SWCD's 2020 Friend of Conservation Award

Dr. Jake Landers (right) receives a commemorative plaque and MCSWCD gate sign in recognition of his selection as Menard County SWCD's 2020 Friend of Conservation.  Presenting the awards is MCSWCD Director Billy Kniffen (left).  Dr. Landers was also recognized as the winner of the Area II Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and Association of Texas SWCDs annual contest.       Read more . . . 


Hover over photos to read descriptions





  Every August, Menard County SWCD hosts a Teacher Appreciation Luncheon to thank all the teachers and MISD staff who help with the conservation poster and essay contests. 

    Our teachers have done an awesome job through the years, as we have had District, Area II and State winners.


   Tuesday, August 13, 2019, the Menard County SWCD hosted a lunch for the teachers and staff of Menard ISD who help with the conservation poster and essay contests. The teachers were given an opportunity to view past winning posters. The state winning essay was read.

   Ms. Kendria Ray, Area II State Representative for Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, discussed do and don’t poster and essay tips with the group.

  Conie Flutsch gave a great overview of this summer’s TSSRM Youth Range Workshop.

   Information on the Teacher Workshop at the Texas Tech Center in Junction, Texas was presented and teachers were encouraged to take advantage of the 3 day, 3 night workshop to earn teaching materials and 16 CEUs.

  Contact Menard County SWCD #215 for scholarship information for the Youth Range Workshop and the Teacher Workshop.

    Ms. Milissa Wright, AgriLife Concho Valley Health Agent for Coke, Concho, Menard, and Sterling, discussed several programs available through the AgriLife Family Consumer Science Program.  

   Lazy Ladle catered a great lunch of pork loin, fruit salad, cucumber salad, potatoes, rolls, and peach cobbler.

    Menard County SWCD thanks the teachers and staff for all their hard work and time.


    Be sure to thank a teacher for helping to inform our future caretakers and voters about soil and water conservation and stewardship.  Through their efforts, students learn to care for our soil, water and air in order to ensure a clean, healthy environment.   

MCSWCD Directors attend annual SWCD meetings

Each year, District Directors attend regional and statewide association meetings.  Attendance at meetings helps broaden Directors' knowledge of timely conservation issues, offers field tours of successful agricultural operations and information about pending or needed legislation on state and national levels.

 Hill Country Spring Meeting

 Hill Country SWCD Directors and NRCS District Conservationists met at 700 Springs Ranch on May 21, 2019 to conduct their Spring Meeting. A tour of the springs and of the original settler’s spring and water transport system for running a water wheel mill was given. A wonderful BBQ lunch was catered by Lum’s of Junction.

  The guest speaker, Dr. Pete  Rose gave an over and under view of the spring formation, its water source and what drives its flow.  Menard County SWCD #215 attendees were J.W. Jennings, MCSWCD FY19 Vice Chairman and secretary of the HC Association; Gary Treadwell, MCSWCD Sec/Treas; Jerry Kidd, MCSWCD Director; Charlotte Albrecht, MCSWCD Business Manager and Chris Casaday, NRCS DC in the Menard Field Office.

  It was an awesome meeting in a gorgeous setting.

TSSWCB Annual State Meeting

The 2019 Annual State Meeting was held October 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort in San Antonio.  MCSWCD FY20 Chairman J. W. Jennings and his wife Louise, District Business Manager Charlotte Albrecht and NRCS DC Chris Casaday attended the conference which included keynote speakers, business meetings, breakout sessions on a wide variety of conservation and environmental issues, numerous booths promoting agricultural products, the statewide awards banquet and a field tour.

Menard County SWCD also participates in various programs at the State Meeting, including providing a quilt square for the popular quilt raffle.  The 2019 quilt square, made by Louise Jennings, highlighted MCSWCD's 75th anniversary.  

Funds raised in part by events at the Annual Meeting provide college scholarships for District Directors' and employees' children or grandchildren. 

In April 2019, Menard High School senior Danielle Brown was awarded a scholarship of $500 toward college expenses by the Texas SWCD Employees Association.  

Thank you to MCSWCD Chairman J. W. Jennings' wife, Louise Jennings, who designed and created the Menard County SWCD quilt block used in the popular quilt raffle at the 2019 Annual Meeting.  In this year's design, Mrs. Jennings highlighted MCSWCD's 75th anniversary.  MCSWCD appreciates all of her time and great work! 

In April 2019, Menard High School senior Danielle Brown was awarded a scholarship of $500 by the Texas SWCD Employees Association.  Danielle is pictured here with her grandfather, Dick Runge.  

2020 Poster and Essay

Contest Winners

Read complete list - pdf for printing


2020 Conservation Essay Contest

13 Years and Under Division

Wyatt Terrell

Winner of the Local, Area II and Statewide Award


MCSWCD Director Billy Kniffen (above, left) presents Wyatt Terrell an award plaque as winner in the 13 years and under division of the annual conservation essay contest and congratulates him on his selection as the 2020 Area II winner.  

MISD student Wyatt Terrell (center) receives a plaque as the 2020 State Conservation Essay Award winner in the 13 years and under category.  Wyatt accepts his commemorative plaque from MCSWCD Directors Benny Fred Kothmann (left) and Billy Kniffen (right).

  Wyatt Terrell’s conservation essay in the 13 years and under division placed first over all in the Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District competition. 

  First and second over all posters, 13 and under over all essays and 14 to 18 over all essays are sent to Area II competition. 

  Area II is comprised of 42 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  Each of the Districts may send their top 2 in each category to Area II competition.

  Wyatt won the Area II competition and his essay was sent to the Texas State Conservation Board for state competition. Only first place area winners can compete for state.  State competition is comprised of 5 Areas, so his essay competed against 4 others.

  Wyatt won the statewide competition!

 We are so proud of you Wyatt!

 Congratulations from the Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District.



   Each year MCSWCD sponsors annual poster and essay contests for local students.  Younger children learn valuable conservation lessons through creative artwork based on a statewide theme.  

    Older students research the theme's topic and write essays based on what they've learned. 



  MCSWCD presents 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards to poster winners in first through eighth grades.  Overall 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners are then selected.      

   Three Overall Junior Essay Winners and three Overall Senior Essay Winners are recognized. 

   In accordance with Texas State Conservation Board (TSSWCB) and Association of Texas SWCDs (ATSWCD) regulations, winners in each category are entered into the Area II regional contest.  

2019 Texas Essay Winner,

14-18 Years Old Division

Lexus Aguirre

See state presentation pic and read more . . . 

"Students are learning about ecology, soil health, clean water and how to protect and clean up our environment."  



    In May, the Area II Awards Banquet is held to honor student winners of the conservation and essay contests.  Conservation farmer and rancher, wildlife operations, teacher of the year, businesses, Friends of Conservation and other categories are also recognized at the annual event. 

   Through the years, MCSWCD has produced winners in many categories.  Directors and the Business Manager attend the event to represent Menard county, as well as to support the conservation efforts of landowners and environmentalists across the large, 52-county Area II region.   

2018 Texas Conservation

Teacher of the Year

Mary Kniffen

See state presentation pic and read more . . . 

4th and 5th graders arrive at the Whitehead-Murchison Complex for Conservation Field Day.

Retired teacher Marcy Wheeler presents tips on how to construct conservation posters.

Dr. Jake Landers teaches a session about wildlife and the benefits of pollination.

Gene Stalzer, from Native American Seed, helps students make seed balls and provides instructions about planting and distribution. 

Grant Teplicek, from USDA/NRCS, demonstrates how ground cover protects soil from erosion and captures more water for the soil to absorb.  


September 10, 2019

(Held in September of odd numbered years)

The 4th and 5th Graders of Menard ISD attended a Conservation Field Day on Tuesday, September 10, 2019  at the Whitehead-Murchison Complex.

The students arrived by bus about 8:45 a.m. and once on site, they were divided up into 5 groups to maneuver through six different stations:  

  • Soils by Victoria Norrell-NRCS:  students discovered how much of the earth they were able to live on.

  • Water by Tami Russell and Caroline Runge-Water Districts:  students observed how water moves through the ground we stand on and how easily it can be polluted.

  • Pollinators by Gene Stalzer-Native American Seed:  this station allowed students to make seed balls using seeds of different colored flowers to attract certain pollinators.  Discussion was held on how to plant or distribute the seed balls to get the best results.  

  • Rainfall Simulation by Grant Teplicek-NRCS:  students were shown how ground cover protects the soil from erosion as it captures more water for the soil to absorb.  Different range plants were shown that would attract pollinators.  Ground cover also affects how well a seed might germinate.

  • Wildlife by Dr. Jake Landers:  students discovered an animal's tooth structure determined the kind of food it could eat.  It was pointed out that without pollination by wind or animals there would be no food.

  • Poster Construction by Marcy Wheeler-Retired Teacher:  tips on how to construct an effective and competitive conservation poster were discussed and practiced.


A lunch of hot dogs was followed by a discussion of "The 4-H and You" by Lisa Brown, AgriLife Extension, and Mary Kniffen, 4-H advisor.


The afternoon program, given by Dr. Barron Rector, Texas A&M Professor, taught how man affects pollinators and the world around them.  This was followed by an activity to show how all of earth's systems are connected as well as how competition for food and food availability controls animal and plant populations in nature.


Students were accompanied to each station by their teachers and by the Menard County SWCD Directors. Buses were loaded at 3:30 p.m.


The students’ behavior during this event was a great compliment to their teachers and school as well as to their parents. The presenters of the program were very impressed and complimentary.

Way to Go, 4th & 5th Graders!!!   



November 25, 2019

Menard High School 9th and 10th grade students gathered at the Murchison-Whitehead Complex for a Conservation program Monday, November 25, 2019. The program was composed of 6 stations:

  • Predators with Gary Roberson of Burnham Brothers and TV Show Carnivore Host

  • Pollinators by Ryan McClintock, NRCS Biologist

  • Water with Meredith Allen, Menard County Assistant District Water Manager 

  • Soils with Amanda Bragg, NRCS Soil Scientist 

  • Bees by Andrew Burnard, Apiarist (Beekeeper)

  • Essay Tips with Kendria Ray, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board Area II Representative


Other guests were Superintendent Mrs. Amy Bannowsky, High School Principal Mrs. Cheryl Kruse, Mr. Larry Reed, Mr. Kolby Kahlden, Mr. William Barker and Mrs. Denisse Crisp.


Many thanks to MISD for sharing these students and staff with Menard SWCD #215. The purpose of the program is to give Menard students a background in conservation and its relationship with their community. This will give them a better chance to make good voter decisions about conservation for their community and state.


The Student behavior was awesome! Thank you 9th and 10th graders for making us (Menard ISD and Menard County SWCD #215) look so good!

Ryan McClintock, biologist from the San Angelo NRCS Area II office, cuts an apple during a demonstration about pollinators.  

Gary Roberson of Burnham Brothers and television show Carnivore host, discusses predators.

Apiarist Andrew Burnard of Kimble County, demonstrates equipment and techniques of beekeeping.


More Educational Conservation Programs 


  Soil and Water Stewardship Week is observed by MCSWCD in the first week of May, along with SWCDs nationwide. 

    Stewardship Week is a time for thanksgiving as well as for  communities to remember the important role every citizen plays in protecting our natural resources. 

    In 2018, MCSWCD provided watershed booklets and puzzles to elementary, junior high and high school students based on the 2018 theme:  "Watersheds:  Our Land, Our Home".   


  Menard County SWCD hosted a tree planting for the 4th grade students of Menard Elementary School, Wednesday, November 6, 2019.  This event was to celebrate Arbor Day.

  Arbor Day in this part of Texas is on the first Friday of November.  Due to school schedules and football, we celebrated this day on the following Wednesday.

   The District encourages everyone to plant a tree or shrub (native if possible), which will improve the air quality, habitat for birds and pollinators and beauty of the community.

  By planting your trees and shrubs in the fall, you encourage root growth and adaptation to a new growing place for the plant.  By spring, the plant should be ready to start growing.    Just remember to water this plant all through the winter.

Everyone had fun planting our tree at the

2019 Arbor Day event!

Menard ISD 4th graders assist MCSWCD Director Jerry Kidd with setting posts for the cage around their newly planted tree.

Students learn the technique of "tickling" the roots before planting their tree with instruction from MCSWCD Directors Billy Kniffen (kneeling, left) and JW Jennings (standing).

Menard ISD students had fun at the 2019 Arbor Day event, where they learned how to plant and care for a tree and its importance in conservation and the environment.  


Menard County SWCD knows that the future of agriculture

lies in the hands of our young people.  We try to provide educational tools to promote good decision-making to protect the land for the benefit of future generations.

Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District #215   P O Box 665  Menard, TX 76859  325-396-4708

Office location:  106 Bevans St., Menard, TX 76859