Stakenas Farms receives Conservationist of the Year award

February 27, 2014
Bill Stakenas, left, and his brother, Carl, far right. In center is Jordan DeVries, administrator of the MLCD.

Bill Stakenas, left, and his brother, Carl, far right. In center is Jordan DeVries, administrator of the MLCD.

Warren Larsen, Laverne Morton receive Legacy Award. Special recognition given to RuthAnn Berndt.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

AMBER TWP. — Stakenas Farms of Free Soil was awarded the 2014 Conservationist of the Year Thursday night at the 72nd annual meeting/election of the Mason-Lake Conservation District, held at the Mason County Reformed Church.

Brothers Bill and Carl Stakenas are the third generation to operate the dairy farm that began in Free Soil Township. The farming operation has grown from 20 production cows to over 500.

Burke Larsen, right, and his wife Lisa and their daughters.

Burke Larsen, right, and his wife Lisa and their daughters.

Throughout the farm’s history, the Stakenas family has been active in soil and water conservation by planting trees, using vegetation filter strips, implementing grassed waterways and several nutrient management techniques.

In 2012 a state-of-the-art waste storage facility was installed on the farm, located on North U.S. 31. The system was the first of its kind in Michigan.

Also nominated for Conservationist of the Year were Maple Hill Farms of Riverton Township, owned by Melvin (Red) and Carole Christofferson and Conklin Farms of Sherman Township, owned by Jeff and Marilyn Conklin.

The district’s Legacy Awards were given to Warren Larsen and Laverene Monton.

Laverne Monton, left, receives the award from Murray Stall of the MLCD.

Laverne Monton, left, receives the award from Murray Stall of the MLCD.

Larsen’s award was given posthumous, he passed away in 2013. He started farming in Victory Township in 1957 with his wife Judee. The dairy farm began with a dozen cows and today milks 500 cows on 1,600 acres. The farm is now operated by Warren Judee’s son, Burke and his wife, Lisa, along with their daughters Lindsay, Leah and Leta.

RuthAnn Berndt, right, receives a special award from Jordan DeVries and Sarah Slater, board chair.

RuthAnn Berndt, right, receives a special award from Jordan DeVries and Sarah Slater, board chair.

Laverne Monton, 84, and his wife, Clara Jean, reside on their farm on Washington Avenue in Summit Township. The Montons have eight children and 13 grandchildren. At age 8 Laverne and his parents moved to the present location.

In 1963, he took over the dairy operation, which in 1993 phased out cattle. Presently he and son, Mark, raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. They also provide custom harvesting and trucking for producers in the area.

RuthAnn Berndt was presented a Distinguished Service Award for volunteering with the district since 1967. RuthAnn and her husband, Curtiss, own the Berndt Hillside Dairy Farm in Sherman Township.

She has been an essential part of helping with various activities in the district, including the annual tree sale and Scottville Harvest Festival float building.

 

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