Our Programs

Students Raft the Tippecanoe River for the 25th Year



This year, approximately 500 students and teachers from 14 northern Indiana high schools participated in the Arrow Head Country RC&D River Expedition Program to be held September 4,5,10,11 and 12.  The program is sponsored by the Education Committee of the RC&D and supported by Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Starke, Cass, Jasper, Kosciusko, Marshall, Miami, Newton, Pulaski and White Counties.  Students raft a three-mile section of the Tippecanoe River as it flows through the Tippecanoe River State Park in Pulaski County. They are

assigned to raft teams for the voyage and work as a team throughout the day.

The day begins with an interactive lesson on watershed. Students are then fitted with life jackets, then grab a paddle for the downstream adventure.

Raft instructors are assigned to each raft and share information about the river and its watershed while on the river. Plant species are identified, soils are discussed, potential problems and conservation practiced are pointed out, and everyone is watchful for birds and animals.

Stops are also made along the river, where students learn about forested riparian areas, river otters and freshwater mussels. They conduct chemical water tests and complete a biological assessment of the river based on macro-invertebrates that they netted.

This program is offered to area high school students every year in September. For additional information or to be placed on the mailing list for next year's trip, please contact the Starke County SWCD office. Knox,  North Judson and Oregon-Davis High Schools attended the trip this year.

Local Farmers Receive Award for Conservation Practices

In these days of water quality concerns, there are those that are utilizing conservation practices on their farms that are protecting waterways and water quality in Indiana and beyond. In Starke County, Larry Jernas and Lee Nagai are among 49 farmers who received the statewide award of ‘River-Friendly Farmer’ at the Indiana State Fair on Farmers’ Day. This award, hosted by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD), recognizes landowners and farmers in the state of Indiana for the work they do on their land to protect Indiana’s natural resources.


The Starke County Soil and Water Conservation District nominated Larry and Lee for the award based upon their farm management practices.



The River-Friendly Farmer Award has been presented by the IASWCD and sponsored by the 92 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. since 2000. This year’s group of award winners brings the total number of River-Friendly Farmers in Indiana since the awards beginning to 961.


For a complete list of this year’s winners along with a short bio and photo (if provided), go to: http://iaswcd.org/river-friendly-farmer-award/.

Annual Meeting Held January 29th


The district's 55th annual meeting was held on January 29th at Nancy J Dembowski Community Center and hosted approximately 75 people. Larry Jernas was elected as supervisor and Dawn Slack from the Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management was the speaker. 

North Judson-San Pierre
 High School at the River Expedition
CWI Grants in Starke County


In 2016 the district, along with Marshall and St. Joseph counties, was awarded two Clean Water Indiana grants.  Both grants have ended in 2018 and $75,000 was spent between the three counties to improve soil health and water quality by helping producers utilize all aspects of the conservation cropping system, mainly no-till, cover crops and filter strips and then later pollinator plantings, which greatly improved soil health in the counties.  We also installed an educational garden site at Knox Elementary School. 

The Starke County SWCD plans to apply for another CWI grant this year. 



Poster Contest Held

Approximately 40 4th and 5th grade Starke County students participated in the district's 1st annual poster contest.  Prizes were awarded and the theme was soil and water conservation.  We will be holding it again next year.


Winners were 1st place:  Mia Russo, St. Peter Lutheran School; 2nd place:  Avaleigh Wright, Liberty Elementary School and 3rd place, Miles Williamson, St. Peter Elementary School.  

Larry Jernas and Tiffany Nagai