District Conservationist Stoll retires after 36 years (Audio included)
1/3/2014 11:55:40 AM
By Joel Penhorwood
Friday marks the final day on the job for a county man who has been serving the agricultural community locally, and incidentally nationally, for 36 years.
Bob Stoll, a resident of rural Zanesfield, is retiring from his career as Logan County Natural Resource Conservation Service district conservationist, a post he has held for the past 33 years. He also served outside Logan County for three years before, bringing his overall time as a county conservationist to 36 years.
For the over three-and-a-half decades that Stoll has worked in conservation, he has helped change area land into more sustainable and environmentally friendly property, leaving it better than when he found it. The feat was accomplished through many of the NRCS programs a county conservationist is assigned to implement. Those programs range in type and scale and include anywhere from designing waterway systems to enrolling land owners in the Conservation Reserve Program.
Stoll talked about the importance of thinking of conservation locally as a part of a bigger plan that improves the health of the nation and world if done correctly.
“I think conservation pays. I think of the fact of grass waterways and I think of cover crops and I think of grazing management and I think of timber stand improvement,” Stoll said. “I think all of those are conservation practices that benefit the resource and puts money back in the pockets of not only the producer, but aligns the resource for future generations.”
Listen to District Conservationist for Logan County’s NRCS Bob Stoll talk about his retirement and the importance of conservation
Stoll is originally from the area, graduating from Benjamin Logan High School in 1973. He began work for the NRCS in Loraine County in 1977 as a student trainee. The temporary position became the place where he met his eventual wife, Lois Stoll.
Stemming from his love for the outdoors and preserving the environment, he became a full time county conservationist in 1978 after graduating from Michigan Technical University in Houghton, Michigan, receiving a degree in Forestry.
Stoll then worked in Wayne County for a year and was transferred to Henry County where he served for two years.
At that point, Stoll says he thought about quitting and finding another occupation. He wanted to be closer to home and so, when he was offered a part time NRCS job in Logan County, he jumped at the opportunity.
He says the rest is history adding that, “Part time turned to full time and full time turned to 36 years.”
He officially succeeded his predecessor David Nesser in 1984 who served in the position before him.
The length of Bob’s tenure at the helm of Logan County’s natural resource conservation efforts stands out from the norm. His job, he remarked, usually has a high turnover rate with people coming and going. Because of his fortitude, Stoll has been able to consistently serve agriculturalists and land owners in the county with in-depth knowledge on each subject.
His absence from the position means a new search for a county conservationist will be underway, which could take several months. The job will be posted nationally and any qualified applicants, no matter their background, will be able to apply.
Logan Soil and Water’s LaRae Baker and the Champaign County NRCS conservationist will be taking over his day-to-day duties while he is gone.
When asked why he has decided to retire, he says now is a good time for him and his family since he is still physically active and ready to take on new projects.
Stoll plans to keep running his farm where he and his wife raise grass-fed beef cattle and run a popular Christmas tree operation.
He has also been in exciting talks with a friend of his to start a conservation services business. The talk has amounted to more than just conversation, with the two planning to start their new business venture in the near future.
Looking back towards the career he’s retiring from, Stoll says the thing he will miss the most is the people connection. His interaction with agricultural producers and community members in a mission to improve land, plants, water, and air, is something he says he hopes continues over into the next phase of his life.
“There are a number of people who look at what they’re doing and how it benefits them and then there is another group of people that look at what they’re doing and how it will benefit their sons, their daughters, and the next generation,” Stoll said. “I hope that more of the public would be like the second group.
“What can we do that improves this natural resource that we’ve got? The water, the plants, the soil, and the air. What can we do for that or what can I do for that to make it more sustaining for future generations.”
Giving his final comments to community members and agriculturalists in the area, he says “the job is not done” and that people must keep taking a proactive role in conservation efforts.
Stoll’s tenure has seen Logan County in a positive light for its in-depth, evolving, and successful, conservation practices when compared to other counties in Ohio.
“We need to leave these folks something that’s workable because we can’t survive without water, we can’t survive without soil, and we can’t survive without plants.”