The Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recognized the late James Nestor of Virgilina for his outstanding job of conserving the land and natural resources Wednesday evening when the district presented his family with the 2016 Outstanding Cooperator Award at the 2016 awards banquet.

Approximately 70 invited guests, district directors and staff enjoyed a meal prior to the presentation of awards at Ernie’s Restaurant Wednesday evening.

According to Conservation Specialist Rick Brown, Nestor had been involved in BMP cost-share programs through the SWCD implementing grassed waterways, critical area stabilization and cover crops trials.

“The SWCD and NRCS had been working with James to implement good conservation practices on his farm. James had dedicated himself to improving the soil and water quality,” said Brown.

He spoke of Nestor’s commitment to protecting soil since he began farming, and his commitment and involvement with SWCD and the NRCS.

His wife, Brittney Nestor, son Shannin Nestor, his mother and father-in-law and Scott Hudson accepted the award for him.

Prior to presenting the Outstanding Cooperator Award to Nestor’s family, previous winners of the award were recognized.

Also Wednesday evening, District Director and Education/Youth Activities Chairman Dr. Bobby Hall presented the Wildlife Food Patch Contest Awards to the young conservationists who had outstanding food plots in the annual competition sponsored by the district and Pennington Seed, Inc.

The Wildlife Food Patch Contest Awards, according to Hall, is part of the mission to reach the youth in addition to environthon, youth camps, poster contests and scholarships.

This year seed packets and planting instructions were made available to 21 area youth.

Hall said, “We receive a special insight when we work with the young people, and in September, I was able to visit the sites. The plots were good, especially considering the dry weather we had.

“Without these children participating, we don’t have a future. Also, we appreciate the efforts of the parents as well as the young people,” he added.

The students are divided into two categories; age 8-12 and age 13-18, winners were chosen from each category.

The winners in the Junior Division were Savannah Terrell (first), Caleb Bomar (second), Samantha Burns (third tied), Dylan Love (third tied) and William Anderson (fifth).

The winners in the Senior Division were Taylor Crews (first), Heather Griles (second), Sabrina Covington (third), Jacob Davis (fourth tied) and Austin Crews (fourth tied).

Wildlife Biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Lorien Koontz presented James Farley Jr. the 2016 Wildlife Conservation Award for his exceptional work in restoring and improving existing wildlife habitat.

Koontz spoke of Farley’s dairy farm, and his incorporation of quail saying, “He did a good job, and he has proven how much work he did.”

When asking Farley what the best part of restoring and improving the wildlife habitat, Koontz said he said it has been seeing the deer, the rabbits and all sorts of pollinators and monarchs.

“He has seen the results,” she added.

Thomas Burke of the Virginia Department of Forestry recognized Dr. Carlyle Franklin, who is a professor at N.C. State, for outstanding accomplishments in forestry with a forestry award.

Burke discussed his concern for the land and forests and described the work Franklin has done over the years and continues to do on his farm in Virgilina.

District Director and Vice Chairman Larry Layman presented the 2016 Clean Water Farm Award to Craig and James Church of Sutherlin.

Past Governor Gerald L. Baliles, in 1986, created the awards program to recognize deserving farmers and landowners who practice good conservation practices to improve water quality.

The Church’s farm is a father, son operation that has shown many conservation efforts, said Layman.