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Murrel Hines receives Soil and Water Stewardship Award

Jack Cook, who is a long time supervisor with the Gilchrist Soil and Water Conservation District, presented the 2018 Conservation Stewardship Award to Murrel Hines. Cook said, “Murrel is a personal friend of mine.” Cook went on to say that he appreciated the examples he has set on the farm and throughout his life. Cook read a brief history about Murrel Hines’ life before presenting him with the Conservation Stewardship award plaque at the Gilchrist Soil and Water 2018 Stewardship Banquet on Tuesday, May 15.
Hines Farms was established in 1932 by Murrel’s father in their current location on 80 acres. He quit school at the age of 13 to “follow a mule,” working on the farm his entire life. Though the years, Hines Farms has progressed from mule-drawn equipment and free range cows and hogs, to a modern operation embracing practices that help conserve resources and increase efficiency. Sod based rotation, cover crops, precision application/irrigation, soil moisture and tissue testing are some practices that Murrel has utilized to protect the environment. Crops grown have been tobacco, watermelons, peanuts, hay and grass seed.
Currently the Hines family runs 150 registered Angus cattle with an additional 500 commercial brood cows on their farm. From the original 80 acres, Hines Farm has grown to over 1250 acres. He considers himself retired but is still active in many areas of the farm, such as feeding stock and being sure everyone is on task as he has always expected.
Murrel Hines’ great granddaughter, Braley Hines, won the District Soil and Water speech competition this year. Braley gave her speech at the Stewardship Banquet. Hines also won the Area 2 competition and will represent this district as she moves on to the state competition in August. This year there were eight entries at the Gilchrist Soil and Water speech competition.
Bell Middle FFA land judging team placed second in the State Soil and Water land judging competition. Bell Sr. FFA placed seventh on the state level. Both teams and their advisors, Debbie Jones and Bill Martin were recognized during the program.
Emily Petersen won the Soil and Water poster contest for the senior division and Linden Teague won the junior poster contest. Both Trenton girls were recognized during the program.
Several area representatives from farm related agencies spoke to the guests at the banquet explaining about what their individual agencies offered local farmers.
The Gilchrist Soil and Water Conservation District Board is made up of Supervisors Brett Crawford Chairperson, Jack Cook Vice Chairperson, Kelly Philman, Myles Langford and Tommy Jones. GSWCD employs three conservation technicians to serve 12 counties throughout North Florida, implementing and promoting the best management practices program as well as assisting Suwannee River Water Management District in administering their programs. Scott Tucker said, “We also provide financial support to the Gilchrist Fair Boosters and all Gilchrist FFA Chapters with their livestock projects at the Suwannee River Youth Fair.” Some of the activities that the GSWCD participated in this year included speech, poster and land judging contests as well as Career Day at Trenton Elementary School. GSWCD was also involved with Florida Department of Agriculture and University of Florida, holding workshops and field days promoting conservation and best management practices.
Tommy Jones thanked the 70 guests for attending the banquet, saying this was the largest crowd they had ever had at a Conservation Stewardship Banquet. Jones has been part of the Soil and Water Conservation District for around 20 years. The banquet was held at the Otter Springs Lodge.

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