An off-farm perspective brings on-farm success for 2015 Master Shepherd

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It isn’t very often that a successful farm story begins off of the farm, but for the 2015 Charles Boyles Master Shepherd of the Year, it does.Cynthia Koonce of Blue Heron Farm in Lisbon began with a small flock in Maryland with no agriculture background to speak of and eventually moved her operation of 35 sheep to the rugged terrain in the northeast part of the Buckeye State in Columbiana County.“We bought this place 25 years ago,” Koonce said. “It was my dream farm with 225 acres on a lake.”Blue Heron Farm now has 350 ewes, including replacements and the farm is mainly used for lamb production.“I pride myself on my lamb,” Koonce said. “I think we produce the best carcass in the state.”Getting to that level of production didn’t just happen. Koonce has taken many opportunities to educate herself on the industry trends and is always willing to learn something new to make her farm better.“Whether it be a video that ASI puts out, or traveling to the ASI convention or to other parts of the world, I try to take it all in,” Koonce said. “I like to think that because of that extra effort that I am innovative. Part of that is because I wasn’t raised in a farm family.“When we bought our first farm 50 years ago, that was the first exposure I ever had to livestock and I never had an older generation of farmers to kind of dictate what I did on the farm. I just learn by doing, I guess.”One of the early challenges with the acreage that Blue Heron Farm settled on in Ohio was that the land had been heavily stripped years earlier and what was left from mining was not pretty.“It must have been a mess at the time it was stripped,” Koonce said. “From what I have heard and what I have seen on parts of this piece of ground, it was a real mess.”That meant a good bit of effort just to get the land fit for grazing, which was tricky when it came to keeping the land’s multiple waterways clean and keeping the lake neighbors happy downstream.“To me, it has always been a matter of common sense,” Koonce said. “You don’t want any manure running down any streams that are on your property. Fortunately, most of the runoff here is from the woods, but because some waterways are from the pasture, I don’t do crops as a rule.”When the budget allowed, Koonce has put down some lime and fertilizer to keep her pastures up. Rotational grazing has also been very beneficial.Over the years, neighbors have taken note of what Blue Heron Farm has done to protect the environment. Environmental success on Koonce’s property has helped shape he surrounding properties, which has impacted the watershed in a positive way.“A good portion of the land around here is not farmed in the traditional sense,” Koonce said. “It’s grazing and tree farms. I think that is way that it should be so we aren’t contributing to the pollution of our own lake.”Koonce has loved being a part of the sheep industry and has traveled the world meeting with other sheep producers to learn and to teach.“I like meeting sheep people and dealing with sheep people and trading stories with the old guys,” she said. “I really enjoy the personalities of sheep people. Sheep people are a lot alike anywhere in the world.”Koonce’s success in the industry is certainly a useful tool and a roadmap for other farmers or future farmers interested in starting a sheep farm from scratch.“You have to be very selective on the animals that you keep and you have to be sure you put the right genetics with the conditions that you plan on raising a flock in,” said Roger A. High, executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “Cynthia has done an ideal job of doing just that in the hills of Columbiana County and has managed her 350 ewes very successfully over the years.”As much as Koonce has led the sheep industry on the farm, she has shown the same type of leadership in the OSIA boardroom.“She brings a fresh, new perspective to our meetings,” High said. “She has been able to collect a lot of information both on a national and international scale and she finds ways to utilize those ideas here in Ohio.”Koonce isn’t one to keep secrets to her success at Blue Heron Farm and her approach to farming is something she openly shares with others.“Cynthia is very smart and she speaks her mind,” said Shawn Ray, president of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “She knows the subject matter, not by just what she practices, but by what she’s read, seen and learned and when we get into a discussion, she makes people think about what is right and what is wrong. With her farm in northeast Ohio, she is about as far away as she can get from a sheep meeting and she still keeps up great attendance and you have to appreciate her dedication to the industry and the organization. “In a room full of sheep farmers at OSIA meetings, one glaring difference with Koonce is that she brings a different viewpoint because she was not born into the business.“She has a completely different perspective from all of us that grew up around sheep and have been around them all of our life,” said Daryl Clark, an OSIA board member who farms in Muskingum County. “She comes at this industry from a different direction and as a result of that she looks at aspects of what we do that others wouldn’t notice.“Sometimes when we grow up on a farm we maybe get to the point where we are looking too much at some of the financial aspects and she has a 360-degree perspective that I really appreciate about her.”Koonce received her Charles Boyles Master Shepherd of the Year honor on Dec. 12 at the 2015 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium in Wooster.last_img read more

Jo Brand And Meera Syal Become Dementia Friends

first_imgComedians and actresses Jo Brand and Meera Syal have become two of the first Dementia Friends as part of the Alzheimer’s Society’s trailblazing awareness movement.Dementia Friends is an initiative that aims to give a million people an improved awareness of the condition by 2015, as a new YouGov survey reveals that just under half (48%) of people think they have a good understanding of dementia. From today anyone in England can follow in Jo and Meera’s footsteps and register online for a Dementia Friend session too.Alzheimer’s Society ambassador Jo, who recently appeared in BBC4 drama series Getting On and the charity’s new supporter Meera, best known for The Kumars at No 42 took part in the first official Dementia Friends session along with other members of the public including a junior doctor and a member of the National Federation of Women’s Institute.The free volunteer-led information sessions are being rolled out from Bristol to Sunderland today. They aim to improve public knowledge of dementia, by helping people understand what living with the condition might be like, and the small things that they could do to make a difference to people living in their community.The roll out is being jointly funded by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office , as part of the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia. As well as encouraging people to sign up as Dementia Friends, Alzheimer’s Society is also calling on people to volunteer to be a Dementia Friends Champion. Dementia Friends Champions talk to people about being a Dementia Friend in their communities. They attend a training course, receive on-going support and are part of a growing network of people creating dementia friendly communities together.Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive said: “With so few people feeling they know enough about dementia, we are so excited to be able to invite everyone up and down the country to become a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends isn’t about creating experts, it’s about helping people understand a little bit more about what it’s like to live with the condition and then turn that understanding into action – anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend.“From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia, every action counts. Sign up to be a Dementia Friend and you can help us to transform England by changing public attitudes and making life better for people with dementia.”Meera Syal, who is speaking as an Alzheimer’s Society supporter for the first time today, said: “One of my close family members has dementia and many of my friends have parents and grandparents living with the condition. I wanted to be a Dementia Friend so that I could start to think about how I can help in my community. I am particularly keen to raise awareness of dementia within the Asian community, indeed in all communities where people may not know ehat support is out there and available. Dementia Friends would be a great way to get people talking and to ensure that people with dementia can be included wherever they live.”Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Jo Brand, who has professional experience of dementia through her previous work in the health sector said: “Being a Dementia Friend is about being that little bit more aware because it’s the small things that make a big difference. I trained as a psychiatric nurse so know all too well how dementia affects people.“The Dementia Friends’ information session I took part in gave a real insight into what everyday life is like for someone with dementia. This really helps you to realise how showing a bit more understanding could make a huge difference.”There are already 60 Dementia Friend and 30 Dementia Friends Champion sessions lined up across England over the next three months with more due to be announced in the near future. To sign up and to find out where your nearest session is visit read more

Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards rocks Winnipeg

first_imgAPTN National NewsWinnipeg played host to this year’s Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards.This year, over 300 submissions from 140 artists were narrowed down to 21 categories.The star-studded event took place last Friday.APTN National News reporter Meagan Fiddler was there.last_img

Selected tarsands projects may avoid new environmental assessment rules

first_imgThe Canadian PressOTTAWA — Tarsands projects that use steam to release bitumen from deep underground will likely get a pass from new federal environmental assessment rules _ but Ottawa is still considering how to deal with those that use solvents instead of water.Environment Minister Catherine McKenna introduced the new Impact Assessment Act in February in hopes of giving more credibility to the federal environmental review process. It sets new timelines for reviews, eases restrictions on participants, adds transparency to the science behind decisions and requires assessments to account for social, health, economic and climate change impacts.In addition to the legislation, the government also sets regulations that determine what types of projects will be covered by the new act _ and environment groups are furious that so-called “in situ” tarsands projects are not on the draft project list.“We see that as a federal abdication of responsibility,” said Patrick DeRochie, climate, and energy program manager at Environmental Defence.In situ production is one of the two ways of extracting bitumen from the tarsands in Alberta. Pit mining is used for deposits near the surface, but about 80 per cent of tarsands reserves are too far beneath the surface to allow for pit mining.That’s when steam is injected deep into the ground to liquefy the bitumen, allowing it to be pumped to the surface _ a process that requires a lot of energy, resulting in heavy greenhouse gas emissions.Under Ottawa’s new legislation, projects can only trigger a federal assessment if they could have an impact on areas that fall under federal jurisdiction, which include emissions, as well as fisheries, species at risk and Indigenous rights.The government says while in situ projects can fall under Ottawa’s jurisdiction because of their potential impact on emissions, they can be exempted when already subject to emissions rules _ such as in Alberta, which is planning a hard cap on tarsands emissions at 100 million tonnes.If the only area of federal concern for a particular project is climate, and that provincial laws exist to address that concern, it only makes sense to exempt those projects, said a government official familiar with the measures.There’s a wrinkle, however: new in situ technology is emerging that uses solvents instead of steam, requiring less energy and resulting in fewer emissions, but posing different environmental risks that might fall under federal jurisdiction _ fisheries, migratory birds, or Indigenous rights, for instance.“Those still need to be looked at,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity since a final decision hasn’t been made.It’s a catch-22 of sorts: technology that allows in situ tarsands projects to avoid a federal impact study by lowering greenhouse gas emissions could end up triggering just such a review by running afoul of different environmental issues that are also Ottawa’s purview.No matter, said DeRochie, who wants such projects reviewed federally, no matter what.Alberta’s plan for a hard cap has yet to be introduced, and could easily be repealed by a future government once it is, he argued. And in-situ projects can impact water, land use and species at risk, whether they use solvents or not, he added.DeRochie also noted that the government’s language is almost identical to a request made by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers last summer, suggesting Ottawa is caving to industry pressure at the expense of the environment.“It’s really problematic,” he said. “It fits a pattern of industry attempting to delay, stall, block or water down regulations and legislation and they’ve been fairly successful at it thus far.”In situ projects shouldn’t require federal permits because existing provincial review processes provide sufficient oversight, said Patrick McDonald, CAPP’s director of climate and innovation.Investors are already skittish about Canadian energy project prospects, McDonald said, adding that Ottawa’s attempt to find a balance between the environment and the economy is tilting towards the former.“Right now there are challenges in getting major projects built in Canada, and in order to ensure a strong economy, we need to remove those barriers,” said McDonald.“How do we find the balance to be able to get investment confidence in the industry?”The whole point of overhauling the assessment rules is to instill confidence to the system for everyone, said McKenna’s spokeswoman Caroline Theriault.“Our government is strongly committed to changing the way decisions on projects are made so that they are guided by science, evidence, and Indigenous traditional knowledge,” she read more

May 6 2015This continues our report form 54 abou

first_imgMay 6, 2015This continues our report form 5/4 about the fifth annual BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL this past Saturday.This was a very well organized and executed event. Lots of vendors, good food, very good music, the weather was wonderful and a good time was has by all.On the stage is JAM PAK BLUES’N GRASS NEIGHBORHOOD BAND, a terrific group of youngsters. They have been part of this festival here at Arcosanti since its beginning and delight the audience every year.[photos by Colleen Connery]NEAMIAHCISCO AND THE RACECARSGREENWOOD SIDEEThe event was organized by the AZ Highway 69 Chamber of Commerce.A special Thank You goes to Chamber President Ben Satran, who cast the original vision for this event and has supported this festival since its inception.last_img

Norways Telenor has announced a series of managem

first_imgNorway’s Telenor has announced a series of management changes following Berit Svendsen’s decision to step down as CEO of Telenor Norway and head of the group’s Scandinavia cluster.Petter FurbergPetter Furberg has been named as the new CEO of Telenor Norway, while Kaaren Hilsen becomes CEO of Telenor Sweden and Morten Karlsen Sørby has been appointed acting cluster head of Scandinavia.The replacement of Svendsen comes after the failure of discussions between her and the telco’s chairman Gunn Wærsted, and Telenor Group president and CEO, Sigve Brekke, to find her a new role.Wærsted said that was “a shame and very sad that Berit has decided to decline the offers of new roles presented to her”. He said that the board regretted “the uncertainty experienced within the Norwegian Telenor organization in the past few weeks and the strain this has caused for our colleagues”.Brekke said that he had offered Svendsen a role as full-time head of the Scandinavia cluster and chair of the board of Telenor Norway after she declined international roles within the organisation, but that Telenor had “not succeeded in finding a role that Berit wanted to take on”.“I leave Telenor full of pride over having positively contributed to the company’s development and growth through 30 years. I have had the pleasure of being lifted up and forward by fantastic colleagues and employees. Together we have taken Telenor to new heights, and this has been noticed also outside of the company. I wish all my friends and colleagues in Telenor the best of luck. Now I will take some time off and reset before I surely will take on new and exciting challenges elsewhere,” said Svendsen.Furberg is currently cluster head of emerging Asia and part of Telenor’s group executive management. Bjørn Ivar Moen, current head of Telenor Norway’s mobile division, will be acting CEO of Telenor Norway from today until Furberg starts. Moen will thereafter remain in Telenor Norway’s management team.Hilsen worked for Telenor Sweden until 2017 CFO and has worked for Telenor’s operations in Montenegro and Thailand. She now returns to the telco from the position of CFO for Betsson AB.last_img read more