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Meeker SWCD's 2023 Outstanding Conservationist

Meeker County Outstanding Conservationist

Man standing in front of a large yellow Caterpillar combine harvester.
Meeker SWCD's 2023 Outstanding Conservationist, Jay Hedtke. Pictured below is the Soil Health Field Day Event Jay was gracious enough to host, partnering with Meeker SWCD and the University of MN  Extension office. 

Jay Hedtke will be honored as Meeker County's Outstanding Conservationist at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, December 11-13, 2023, in Bloomington, Minn. He was selected by the Meeker Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for the award.

Each year, the state's SWCDs recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota's natural resources. The award program is conducted with support from The Farmer magazine.

Jay Hedtke and family, which includes his wife, Tracey, his son, Andrew, and daughter in law, Shelby, farm approximately 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and winter rye just north of Grove City, Minnesota. Jay grazes his cover crops with his 100 head of cattle, and utilizes strip till and no-till management practices in an effort to be as efficient as possible.  

According to Jay, he believes that "our good lord gave us this land, and it is our job to take care of it the best way that we can." Jay's future plans for his land include being able to have his son work on the farm full time, grow his cattle herd, invest in new technology, utilize cover crops more efficiently, and just continue to gain more knowledge about soil conservation.

In 2023, Jay partnered with Meeker SWCD, Kandiyohi SWCD, and the University of MN Extension Office and hosted a successful Soil Health Field Day at his farm. Jay encourages and supports his peers in using soil health principles, cover crops, and other conservation programs, and has graciously volunteered to host future events.

Mr. Hedtke was also a key partner in the JD 17 Wetland Restoration, which was a collaboration between four landowners and numerous government agencies. The wetland restoration project north of Grove City consists of 287 acres of contiguous perpetual easements, and will help restore hydrology, increase infiltration, provide flood storage, and provides a great wildlife habitat.

Congratulations to Meeker SWCD's 2023 Outstanding Conservationist, Jay Hedtke!