The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is bolstering its Division of Soil Conservation by appointing Meg Leader as Director of Soil Health and adding Matt Williams as a resource specialist. Leader told HAT her goal is to help Indiana farmers of all generations and for future generations.
“We need to keep our farmland viable and whether that’s for existing families or for new people coming in and wanting to go back to the land and wanting to be a farmer, it’s important. We’ve got to be able to keep the quality of our farmland,” she said. “Indiana farming is generations old and I want to keep looking ahead to generations ahead. They need to be able to keep farming. They need to be able to keep a viable operation, and I really think that working with the principals of soil health is how we’re going to make Indiana farming keep going for generations to come.”
Ted McKinney, ISDA Director says the personnel moves at the Division of Soil Conservation allow them to assist more landowners with conservation efforts, especially where soil health is concerned. He said Meg Leader is the right choice for the job.
“She comes from Syracuse University with a degree in civil engineering, which has direct application to all this, and then she served as the Conservation Director for the Vermillion County Soil and Water Conservation District developing and working on any number of projects. So she came in very, very well qualified and then has lifted this program up. It’s gone from zero-60 in a few seconds flat and it’s because of her and her team’s terrific efforts.”
In 2013, Leader began working at ISDA as Program Manager for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. She will work with the agricultural industry to develop innovative environmental stewardship programs and initiatives. That includes the farm management program designed to improve soil health known as INfield Advantage.
When INfield Advantage first launched in 2010, it had 15 producers, who enrolled 39 fields. Today, the program has more than 400 producers and over 1,000 fields enrolled.
Williams grew up in Crawfordsville, Ind. and attended Ball State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Communications. He has a variety of experience working as a Lab Technician for West Central Solid Waste District, a Technician for the Hendricks County SWCD and a quality Control Specialist for AgAlumni Seed. He also organized fundraisers and worked with contributors at March of Dimes, prior to joining ISDA.
As a Resource Specialist, Williams will be providing conservation technical assistance to landowners, while collaborating with the Indiana Conservation Partnership. He will be working at the USDA Service Center in Danville, which covers Hendricks, Madison, Hamilton and Delaware counties, and will be offering services, such as helping landowners identify specific conservation practices.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity to work with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and look forward to supporting some of the programs and people that make our streams and rivers cleaner,” Williams said.
To learn more about ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation, please visit www.in.gov/isda/2342.htm.