Mower SWCD supervisor to serve on state board

Published 6:30 am Sunday, February 14, 2021

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A Mower County farmer and conservation board supervisor now represents southeast Minnesota on a state organization’s board.

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

Randy Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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