Conservation Awards

Conservation awards have been given out over the years to deserving organizations and individuals that work hard to conserve our natural resources.  Awardees are recognized for their efforts in different categories such as conservation practices used on farmlands, educating the public, protecting natural habitats and wildlife, or devoting time to protecting lakes, rivers, and streams.

If you know of any organization or individual deserving of a conservation award, reach out to us so they can be recognized for their hard work and dedication.

Below are links to awardees over the years, including the current year.   Check out the links for any organizations affiliated with the awardees.

Past Awardees  

2017 Awardees

Conservationist of the Year (posthumous): Gertrude “Gertie” Temple 

A true steward of the land nominated for the award by Bruce Campbell, Drain Commissioner.  Gertrude “Gertie” Temple touched the lives of everyone she met and will be remembered for her integrity, passion – and her smile.

She was especially passionate about preserving the pristine water of the lake she held so dear – Birch Lake – as well as the wetlands in Porter Township.  She, and her husband Bob Temple, devoted countless hours over 39 years to protect and preserve the water quality of Birch Lake. She worked tirelessly to learn from the experts and apply that knowledge to spearhead many programs and efforts – and as she would always say, “with the help of many dedicated volunteers”.  Gertie worked hand-in-hand with Cass County’s Director of Environmental Health to design and implement the Cass County Health Department Birch Lake Survey Program and the Birch Lake Monitoring Program.  She was actively involved in Michigan Lakes and Streams Association and was instrumental in the implementation of the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program for Birch Lake, as well as the founding of the Birch Lake Improvement Association, the Water Quality Committee of the Birch Lake Yacht Club, and the Birch Lake Watershed Association.  She also served for many years as the Secretary of the Porter Township Sewer Board, with a goal to prevent possible pollution from improper installation and maintenance.  As chair of the Porter Township Wetlands Committee, she worked towards creating a comprehensive Ordinance to protect its unique wetlands.  Gertie had a heart of gold and was a one of kind treasure who left an incredible legacy.

Conservation Farmer of the Year: Chris Rosselit 

For as long as anyone can remember, Chris Rosselit has been an important member of the Cass County farming community and regarded very highly by his peers. Chris has earned a reputation of being one of the friendliest and kind people in our community. As a farmer, Chris has demonstrated a strong commitment to be an environmental steward through his conservation based farming. Farming 800 total acres of corn and soy, Chris has been a pioneer of conservation. His farm was one of the first in the County to practice no-till and he has conducted several cover crop trials. For 25 years he has continued no-till planting, has become a user of annual rye as a cover crop, and practiced sound nutrient management through responsibly calculated fertilizer applications. Chris’s farm is verified in the cropping system in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).  Chris’ overall character and commitment to be an environmental steward make him more than qualified to receive the award of Cass County Farmer of the Year.

Wildlife/Habitat Stewardship: Gordon Seyfarth

In recognition of his deep understanding and appreciation of the web of life and his efforts to create habitats which protect a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife in a small space.

To read more about what Gordon Seyfarth is doing click here. 


Ag-Tourism: A-Mazing Acres

2017 Ag Tourism award recognition is given to A-Mazing Acres located on US 12 in Mason Township.  Using their unique farm as a form of entertainment they have been educating their guests about “Farm to Market”. Guests can spend unlimited time exploring the corn maze, plus enjoy other attractions such as a miners mountain slide, jumping pillow, corn boxes, goat barn, pedal cart & trike track, and many more fun games/attractions.

Through their conservation farming practices, recently MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) certified in farmstead, cropping and livestock, they strive to be good stewards of the land.  They have implemented land conservation, no-till farming, minimally use chemicals on crops, practice rotation planting, and water conservation.

They invite the general public to the farm six days a week via school field trips, corporate team building events and general public attendees to experience animals, crops, farm to table food, and fun!  Their outreach has extended to visitors from as far away as Belgium and Singapore, and in the States from Chicago to Texas!  Rick and Roni Hoff of A-Mazing Acres make special efforts to ensure no matter where they are from they all experience Cass County Michigan in an entertaining and educational way!

Conservation Educator: Nelson’s Herbs

Karen Nelson and her son Jason Nelson are recognized for their commitment to conservation education. Nelson’s Herbs is not just a local greenhouse and market but, a location for the raising the community awareness of sustainability and natural living.  The following are examples of their educational works:

  • Recently formed Fermentation club which meets at the Herb Shop for sharing the benefits of food fermentation, experiences, and recipes.
  • Classes on gardening, growing and using herbs, fermentation, beer brewing, ect.
  • Our initial phase of the prairie (first 3 acres, 12 more to come) is used as classroom for teaching about native plants, pollinators, reptiles, and native mammals, and birds. Also, to teach wild foraging for food and herbs
  • The raised bed gardens are a teaching tool to show people that they can feed themselves in a small space.
  • The plant sales area is a place to teach people about the different varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and their importance.
  • 10 ½ years writing for The Edwardsburg Voice. Informational articles on gardening, Herbs and their uses, recipes using what we harvest from the garden, and the importance of sustainability.
  • Our yearly charity event, Feeding Cass County, to educate people about a great amount of emergency need in this county for food, hygiene products, and the simple necessities of life.  Karen and Jason teach by living what they teach and continue to learn to share.  They live by their mentor Gandhi who taught, “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. They exemplify kindness, compassion, empathy, and education.