Year Inducted: 2008
Ridge Spring, South Carolina
Nominated by the Saluda Soil and Water Conservation District
The Yon family (Yon Family Farms) of Ridge Spring, S.C., has been selected as one of the seven regional winners of the 2008 Environmental Stewardship Award . The award program is administered by the National Cattlemen‘s Foundation and sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C., USDA‘s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The award recognizes cattle producers from across the nation who utilize innovative, cost-effective stewardship practices that contribute to environmental conservation.
Yon Family Farms was nominated by the Saluda Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and represents Region II, which includes eight southeastern states, from Louisiana to North Carolina.
"The Yon family exhibits tremendous stewardship with regard to pasture management, forage preservation, crop implementation and water quality improvement,“ explained Dave Petty, chairman of the selection committee. "They‘ve utilized the resources available to them to partner in developing stewardship and conservation goals and objectives.“
Established in 1996, the farm is a family-owned and operated, and run by Kevin and Lydia Yon and their three children. The farm includes 1,500 acres of cropland, hay and pastureland. It‘s also a diversified Angus seedstock operation that incorporates income from the sale of seed and feed for livestock, freezer beef and the children‘s sweet corn sales. Realizing the importance of sustainability, the Yon‘s work to ensure that their soil and water resources are healthy. They believe in whole-farm conservation, focusing on the big-picture when it comes to stewardship.
Partnering with USDA-NRCS and the Saluda SWCD, the Yon‘s have utilized technical and financial assistance to install practices and easement through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Forestry Incentives Program (FIP), Conservation Security Program (CSP), and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). With such partnerships, the Yon‘s have implemented no-till practices, rotational crop planting sequences, nutrient and pest management, forage and soil sampling that have enabled them to become "grass farmers.“
"The Yon‘s have taken their passion for the land and cattle, and implemented sound conservation practices on their operation,“ said Petty. "Working as a family, they have been able to build one of the most reputable seedstock operations in the southeast, while instilling values for the land in their children.“
In cooperation with the NRCS and the Saluda SWCD, the Yon‘s have developed a comprehensive plan to increase forage production and reduce sedimentation and erosion. Installing 28 water troughs, 55,352 feet of cross-fencing, and 34,616 square feet of heavy materials to protect from erosion, has allowed the operation to become economically sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Yon Family Farms has been home to many activities that include producer tours, educational studies, conservation programs and hosting interns. One of the greatest impacts they have on the cattle industry is their activity with future cattle producers. Hosting international students, conducting internships and training the future leaders of the cattle industry has enabled them to share their passion and love for the cattle industry and the land.
"By making farming a family business, they are instilling a conservation ethic in their children, and all those that they come in contact with farming can be a rewarding and lucrative lifestyle,“ said Petty. "They have achieved many of these successes due to such relationships and cost sharing with NRCS.“
"They have a solid understanding of the interdependence of natural resources, and their approach to conservation works,“ said Hugh Smith, Saluda County NRCS District Conservationist. "It is a family business that does all the right things and makes my job easier and allows me to showcase them for their commitment.“