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Latest News

Employment Opportunity

In partnership with Illinois USDA-NRCS, the Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) is hiring an NRCS Surveying Aide that will serve the communities in Champaign and Vermilion counties, Illinois. The Surveying Aide will work closely with the CCSWCD and NRCS personnel to help landowners and producers implement conservation practices.
The purpose of this position is to hire an entry level survey aide that will undergo thorough training and education of conservation implementation in agricultural and urban settings according to USDA-NRCS standards and specifications. Appy through August 31, 2020.  Click here for more information.


AISWCD Seeking S.T.A.R. Coordinator

Please take a moment to review this exciting new position announcement!


Crop Year 2019 S.T.A.R. Awardees

Please check out the From the Farm segment on WCIA
 Vermilion County Soil & Water Conservation District
 Clay Bess, Precision Conservation Specialist
 Precision Conservation Management
(Photo Coming Soon)
Tom Beyers, Farmer, Marion County SWCD                                  
Chairman, AISWCD President   


S.T.A.R. Releases Inaugural Annual Report: Demonstrating Agricultural Environmental Outcomes

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Today, the S.T.A.R. initiative (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources) is excited to release its first Annual Report for the 2019 crop year. The report provides an overview of S.T.A.R., documenting its expansion and impact and aggregating the benefits of in-field practices into metrics that are useful to a diversity of audiences.
S.T.A.R. is a free tool that provides farm operators and landowners a means to evaluate, measure and increase their use of conservation practices based on locally identified resource concerns.  The goal of the program is not only to evaluate the use of conservation practices, but also to educate participants about the benefits of additional management changes and encourage improvement. S.T.A.R. uses a simple field form to request information concerning field management and conservation practices, assign points to each practice, and provide a S.T.A.R. rating ranging from one to five stars.

“The S.T.A.R. field form underwent substantial revisions in 2019, assigning more points to practices with higher nutrient and sediment reduction efficiencies than practices with lower or unknown efficiencies,” states Dr. Emily Bruner, Chair of the S.T.A.R. Science Advisory Committee and Midwest Science Director for American Farmland Trust. “While the S.T.AR. Initiative is practice-based, allowing farmers flexibility in choosing their path to conservation success, our 2019 Annual Report summarizes individual practices reported from S.T.A.R. fields and translates this data into environmental impacts.”

“The Illinois Department of Agriculture commends S.T.A.R. on a great 2019 report,” Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello adds. “S.T.A.R. is a prime example of how a tool developed by Illinois farmers can help encourage improvements in on-farm soil health and downstream water quality. We look forward to working with the S.T.A.R. Initiative to get more conservation on Illinois farms in the 2020 crop year.”

In 2019, over 200 farmers used the tool on over 80,000 acres. Outside of Illinois, organizations in Iowa and Missouri plan to offer the tool as well.
Report Highlights:
- The use of no-till and strip-till by S.T.A.R. farmers accounted for 3,374 truckloads of sediment kept out of Illinois waterways, over 15,000 lbs. of phosphorus kept in the field and the carbon dioxide equivalent of removing 6,730 passenger cars from the road for a full year.
- The use of cover crops by S.T.A.R. farmers accounted for 1,168 truckloads of sediment kept out of Illinois waterways, over 4,000 pounds of phosphorus kept in the field, over 73,000 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen kept in the field, and the carbon dioxide equivalent of removing 1,175 passenger cars from the road for a full year.
Farmers interested in enrolling their acres are encouraged to fill out a 2020 Field Form.
Please click the image below to read the full report and learn more about the practices supported by S.T.A.R.


2020 S.T.A.R.

The 2020 field form has a new look this year and materials and information is being posted for the 2020 crop year.  Click on S.T.A.R. to get answers to your questions and find out your S.T.A.R. rating.  


Interview with Bruce Henrikson, S.T.A.R. Program Coordinator





Staff is working remotely

Like everyone else, the CCSWCD is in unfamiliar territory as we address the COVID-19 concerns.  The district board would like SWCD employees to work remotely at this time.  Please feel free to email or call us with any questions.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Hannah McDonald, Conservation Coordinator: Email Hannah or call 309-740-0032
Erin Bush, Resource Conservationist: Email Erin or call 815-317-6410


Newsletter is Now Available

Our January 2020 Newsletter is filled with information on upcoming meetings and sales and well as articles to keep you updated on habitat and conservation opportunities.  



S.T.A.R. - New Press Release Issued

S.T.A.R.'s highlights for 2018:
-  180 participants on 438 fields, for a total of 27,418 acres on Illinois land
-  382 of hte 438 fields participating recieved 3 stars or higher on a 5-star scale, or more than 87 percent.
-  Champaign County is now joined by 42 other Illinois counties also participating in the program. 
S.T.A.R. participants complete a field form that is scored by a local reviewer, which then assigns points for everything from the cover crops used on acreage, to the kinds of fertilizer used for nutrient management at different points before and during the growing season, to various possible conservation practices used on that field to prevent runoff into nearby water sources.
S.T.A.R. uses a science committee of university researchers and other experts to ensure the field forms accurately compare practices used and how those effect the natural resources of the state. Fields are then ranked on the 5-star scale, and participants receive a sign for their fields to identify their S.T.A.R. designation.
The program touts several key benefits for more participation: decreasing nutrient loss in the soil and encouraging other farmers to help meet the state’s nutrient loss reduction goals; increasing net farm income and possible new markets to sell crops grown using conservation practices; and supporting the ongoing work of soil and water conservation districts to preserve and promote the state’s natural resources.

S.T.A.R. for 2019

The S.T.A.R. program is now open for the 2019 Crop Year after a very successful 2018 year. There were 436 fields and 27,157 acres rated for 181 different individuals in 41 different counties! In fact, 41 other counties are now licensed to offer S.T.A.R. program.
In May, 2018, we received a formal endorsement from the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture that can be viewed here.


Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the spring prescribed burn at the Barnhart Prairie a success. 



Please check our our YouTube Channel for Educational and Informational Videos



St. Joseph Wetland Restoration and Education Project Update:

The CCSWCD is working to complete the educational center at our St. Joseph Wetland site.  Construction began this spring, and the 90' long concrete entrance of Illinois Route 150 is complete.  Donations are being accepted from those who want to be part of this exciting opportunity for environmental education and enjoyment. The education center will include a permeable pavement for parking, bio-retention basins and raingardens, educational signage around a viewing area and seating benches built by high school students at St. Joseph-Ogden.  The site has already been used by many groups and individuals, and the local Boy Scout troop, along with others, will be part of completing the center. Please help us bring this premier outdoor classroom to life so all can learn about the flora and fauna of a wetland.  To learn more, please check out our history and plans for education at the St. Joseph Wetland Restoration and Education Site. 


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