The Rock Island County Soil and Water Conservation District was established February 10, 1942. Soil & Water Conservation Districts were established under the Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District Act in 1937, and although a SWCD is a governmental body, it is not a branch of federal, state, or county government. Each District is classified as a “local unit of government”. The Act gives SWCD’s the responsibility to provide technical information to individuals and groups on methods of soil and water conservation, and provide natural resource inventory information on properties slated for zoning changes. The District is governed by a five-member board of directors who are responsible for the conservation and wise use of our natural resources. Districts have no taxing authority. Funding is provided in part by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and Rock Island County. Our District offers several programs which supplement IDOA funding. The additional funding is utilized for operation expenses and education programs.
We are fortunate to join in our efforts with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Both are agencies of the US Dept. of Agriculture.
All SWCD programs and services are offered on a non-discriminatory basis without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status.
Board Of Directors:
Gary Blanchard ~ Chairperson
Brian Parkinson ~ Vice- Chairperson
Bill Parchert~ Secretary/Treasurer
Twila Cederstrom ~ Director
Nathan Oak~ Director
Rich Stewart, RISWCD Resource Conservationist
Resource Conservationist for the Rock Island Soil and Water Conservation District since 2011 working with farmers and landowners on conservation plans including
Copperas Creek watershed planning
Two Cover crop demonstration plots in northern and southern part of RI
Promotion of CRP for pollinator habitat, Filter-strips, grassed waterways, and shallow water developments for wildlife
Construction site reviews for IL EPA
Working on the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy for area farmers
Grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Cumberland Country, IL (south of Charleston, IL)
Graduated from the University of Illinois in 1976 with a BS Degree in Agronomy – Crop and Soils
Worked with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) / Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Will-South Cook, DeKalb, Pulaski-Alexander, and Henry County. Served as District Conservationist in Henry County for 30 years before retiring in 2010.
Past president of the IL Soil and Water Conservation Society
Past president of Cambridge Rotary
Past member of the Cambridge school board
Certified Crop Advisor (CCA)
Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC)
Sarah Fitzgerald, RISWCD Administrative Coordinator
Sarah Fitzgerald is the Administrative Coordinator for the Rock Island County Soil and Water Conservation District, housed in the USDA Service Center in Milan. She has held this position since July of 2015, previously holding the AC position at the Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District in Aledo Illinois. This position is a unique one because it combines administrative support as well as outreach and educational duties.
Sarah holds a bachelor of arts in Biology, Environmental Studies, and a minor in Geography from Augustana College, graduating in 2013. Originally hailing from Winfield Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Sarah greatly enjoys learning about and helping to implement both the Urban and Agricultural aspects of improving water quality and reducing soil erosion.
Some of her hobbies include running, hiking, and camping, which she greatly enjoys pursuing with family and friends. As a volunteer for the Quad City Botanical Center as well as an avid gardener she also greatly enjoys anything plant related!
Joe Gates, NRCS District Conservationist
Joe Gates, District Conservationist, NRCS
District Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Milan, IL for 26 years. Has worked in NRCS field offices throughout Illinois for 33 years. Locations included Stephenson, Saline, Gallatin, Jackson, Henderson, Mercer, Henry, and Rock Island Counties. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help landowners apply conservation practices on their land through conservation programs including: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Wetland Reserve Easement Program (WRE), and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Grew up on a dairy farm near Mt. Carroll, Illinois. Graduated from the University of Illinois, with BS in Agriculture. Currently live near Taylor Ridge on 12 acres. Spends most of his spare time improving forestland, cutting firewood, growing flowers and vegetables in greenhouse, raising chickens, and horses.