This nomination essay was written as part of the National Association of Conservation District’s ‘Friend of Conservation’ Award, for which Mr. James Vaughn was awarded in 2019. Vaughn Farms was nominated by the Towaliga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD); I believed his farming practices to best showcase the Georgia farmer’s conservation work on his everyday farm. I wrote the nomination form and I was elated the day that I received the phone call that he had received this prestigious award, all within my first six months as District Program Coordinator for the Towaliga SWCD.
VAUGHN FARMS: CONSERVATION DOESN’T MEAN LIMITATION
The Towaliga Soil & Water Conservation District is very proud and excited to nominate Mr. James Vaughn of Vaughn Farms, L.P., for the NACD “Friend of Conservation” Award for many years of dedicated service to innovative natural resource conservation practices and educational programs on his farmland in Monroe County, Georgia.
Mr. Vaughn, owner and operator of Vaughn Farms, L.P. in Monroe County, GA, has partnered with the Towaliga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for decades to highlight viable conservation methods and practices that are applicable to all types of farms—big and small.
The farm land, purchased in the 1950’s by James’s father, T. Butler Vaughn, was where James first learned about cattle farming and the effects of large cattle herds on the natural landscape for long-term periods. In the 1980’s, James and his father committed to rebuilding the cattle operation and expanding its practices; however, James wanted to expand the business in an ethical, responsible way. These changes became critical when Vaughn Farms lost a 650-acre pine plantation due to a root rot disease. District Conservationist Carmen Westerfield of NRCS worked extensively with Mr. Vaughn over the next several decades to improve the land use of the farm’s cattle operation.
“All of these operations were rebuilt with the technical and financial assistance of NRCS. The EQIP [Environmental Quality Incentives Program] contracts were essential to our ability to rebuild. Perhaps even more important was the technical assistance and design work we received from NRCS. A fresh look at an operation with an experienced guide in invaluable,” said Vaughn.
Mr. Vaughn is not one to shy away from an opportunity to partner with his local conservation district. One of the most notable conservation education events hosted at Vaughn Farms in service to the Towaliga Conservation District and many public leaders within the state of Georgia was the, “Farm Bill Farm Tour.” This event—which took place in November 2017 and was co-hosted by W.C. Ham, Inc., Sleepy Creek Farm and Monroe Co. Farm Bureau—was attended by six public leaders and representatives, several agriculture enthusiasts and the Monroe County Farm Bureau Young Farmers. The tour highlighted the effects of conservation practices over decades of development and implementation as well as the NRCS EQIP standards at Vaughn Farms.
Mr. Vaughn was recently named “2018 Georgia Cattle Producer of the Year” by the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, recognizing Vaughn Farms’ innovative cattle management practices and marketing efforts as well as his service to the community of Monroe County, GA.
Mr. Vaughn has proven to have the utmost integrity and responsibility throughout his decades of partnership with NRCS and the Towaliga SWCD. These reasons, along with numerous others, are why we humbly ask that NACD consider Mr. James Vaughn for the 2019 “Friend of Conservation.” Thank you for your time and consideration.
Mr. James Vaughn (right) pictured with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, District Conservationist Carmen Westerfield. Mrs. Westerfield has worked with Vaughn Farms for 20+ years to design the best layout for environmental + economic impact.