The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts held their annual meeting and conference in late July, and with it, awarded the Governor's Conservation Farm Family Award to the Mark and Marsha Tennis family, Sumner.
The Tennises have three children: son Markus and daughters Mackenzie and Maran. Mark and Marsha each grew up on farms in the Sumner area and started farming together as husband and wife in 1989. Today they oversee 250 acres of CRP and 885 acres of corn and soybean cropped land. Their crop land is 100% no-till. "Take care of your fields and they will take care of you," they like to say.
The Lawrence County winners were one of four finalists for the award, including the Elbert family from Livingston County, the Hess family from McDonough County and the Lane family from DeKalb County.
"These families and others like them demonstrate dedicated land stewardship and the preservation of Illinois' natural resources, says James Todd, AISWCD president.
The Tennis family will be presented with a sign for their farm at the Salute to Agriculture day during the Illinois State Fair.
Sponsors for the award include Prairie Farmer, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Brownfield Network, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
"We're extremely honored to be able to sponsor this award," Prairie Farmer editor Josh Flint says. "It highlights the important connection Illinois farmers have to one of their most valued assets – the land."
Other awards presented during the conference include:
Outstanding District Employee of the Year: Terry BAchtold, Livingston County SWCD.
Conservation Teacher of the Year: Phil Truty, Morris Community High School.
Illinois Envirothon Winner: Taylorville High School/Mary Dawson, teacher and coach.
Legislator of the Year: Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
Friend of Conservation Award: Cynthia Soto, (D-Chicago).