STAR is an exciting initiative developed by farmers and soil and water conservation professionals that offers farm operators and landowners a simple, free, and confidential tool to evaluate their conservation land management practices. The goal of STAR is to encourage the continued adoption of conservation practices, and recognize farmers for their commitment to sustainability. From improved nutrient management to cover crops to edge of field water treatment and even crop rotation or inclusion of livestock, a suite of practices can result in a rating of between one and five STARs!
Rick and Kathy Kaesbier
Rick (Right) and Kathy (Left) are organic farmers operating in Logan County. In CY22, their farm enrolled 8 fields that totaled 300 acres. 100% of those fields were rated 5-STARs, an exemplary feat for STAR farmers.
Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District
Stacy Helm (Left), Clark Witges (Middle), Trevor Alexander (Right)
Jefferson County SWCD demonstrated the importance of local staff working with their farmers to deliver conservation services and assistance. Their support made STAR a huge success in Jefferson County, enrolling 40 fields covering 1,400 acres in CY22.
Helen VanBeck is the Midwest Program Specialist with American Farmland Trust and a coordinator of the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership. In CY22, Helen led the process for calculating environmental outcomes of the STAR program, enabling STAR to communicate the positive, tangible improvements to water quality and climate impacts that are a result of STAR farmers using conservation practices on the landscape.
Jerry Costello II
Jerry Costello II is the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), and a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives. IDOA's Partners for Conservation Program uses STAR as an evaluation tool, enrolling 476 fields for CY22. This addition significantly contributed to STAR's conservation goals and demonstrated the appetite for conservation programming in IL.