Congratulations Don Eyring

Ashtabula SWCD 2022 Cooperator of the Year

 

 

Don Eyring has been named the 2022 Ashtabula SWCD Conservationist of the Year.  Don resides in Andover Township but owns and manages approximately 372 acres of land across several townships.  Don utilizes several local grain farmers to farm the land and he focuses on managing approximately 200 acres of forest land.  He manages with two goals in mind: healthy forest for commercial timber and wildlife habitat. 

Don got his start in agriculture as a young man on his dad’s dairy farm in Lorain County.  Along with his two brothers, they helped their dad on the 200 acre farm.   His father had dairy cows so the farms rotation consisted on corn and hay.  He got involved in 4-H around the age of 11 or 12 with his project being dairy heifers.   He and his brothers’ hand milked the 16 cow herd until Don graduated from high school.  Don also remembers daily hauling of manure with a horse drawn manure spreader.  With only 16 cows and 200 acres, they had plenty of places to spread manure on a daily basis. 

When Don graduated from High School, he received his draft notice.  Don chose the Army Reserves and served his time.  When Don was drafted his dad sold the cows and continued to grain farm.  When Don returned he helped out with the farm and by then they were growing alfalfa hay that they sold to local farmers.

During his time in Lorain County after his service he also acquired a farm for himself.  He raised hay, oats, beans and corn.  Along with farming Don got a job at a local bank where he worked for 18 years.

In 1981 Don moved to Ashtabula County to work for Andover Bank.  Don along with his wife Elaine and 4 children bought the 20 acres that he still resides on today.  He farmed the tillable ground that first year by raising oats and hay.  After the first year of farming and trying to work at the bank, a conversation with a local sweet corn grower resulted in Ted Hockran planting sweet corn on the property for many years.

In 1997 Don acquired land in Harpersfield Township and saw an opportunity to restore wetlands.  The site was used as a mitigation wetland bank for local companies.  When the wetlands were completed and monitored for a 5 year period, Don was able to donate the property to the Ashtabula County Metro Parks.  Today the Eyring Wetlands Preserve Metroparks is located on Mechanicsville Road north of Cork Cold Springs and is available for the public to enjoy.

His land protection efforts didn’t stop there.  In early 2005, Don purchased 84 acres of land in Austinburg Township along Mill Creek.  The property consisted of upland cropland and wooded floodplain.  The property had undergone an aggressive timber harvest prior to purchase.  Don worked with Grand River Partners and the Ashtabula SWCD to place a conservation easement over the entire 84 acres.  This easement will allow future proper timber management, farming and the ability to build a single family home.  A perfect example of how forestry, ag and a single family home can coexist together on the landscape and still maintain excellent water quality. 

 

Over time, Don started to acquire land all across the county which contained cropland but also woodlands.  He asks local grain farmers in the area to farm the fields, but he spends his  time in the woods.  All the properties have a forest management plan outlining the management needs.  Don has spent a lot of time in the woods performing the necessary timber stand improvement tasks that are prescribed in his plan.  As time has passed, Don is utilizing NRCS programs and contractors to perform this work.  He said he still loves to work in the woods, but it is getting harder and taking longer for him to get the job done.  With approximately 200 acres of woodlands to manage, only a small portion of one parcel is close to harvest.  The rest of his properties are many years away from harvest potential.  Don is working hard managing his woodlands that he will never see the fruits of his labor.  When asked why, he said ,““Because it is the right thing to do”.

Don stays involved in his community. In Lorain County he served as a Township Trustee.  He currently is the Chairman of the Andover Public Library Board. Past member of Country Neighbor board and Friends of the Park.

As Don reflected on his life time of working with the land, he said “he is blessed beyond what he deserves”.  His reaction to learning about this reward was that he didn’t feel he has done enough.  Don, you have done enough and we know you are not done carrying the conservation torch. 

One last bit of information for those who know about Don’s passion for baking, some of whom have been lucky enough to sample his fare.  He said he learned that talent from his mother. 

When you see Don Eyring, please take the time to congratulate him on a job well done!

 

 

 

Don Eyring

2022 Winner

2019 Winner

2018 Winner

2017 Winner

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