Psychology professor and gratitude researcher Robert Emmons from UC-Davis says practicing gratitude “affirms the good things we’ve received while acknowledging the role other people play in providing our lives with goodness.” The sentiment is apropos in the relationship business of putting conservation on the ground.

For the 13th year of practicing gratitude, the Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District and its Board of Directors and staff hosted their annual customer appreciation luncheon at the CCE Madison Event Center in Morrisville, NY. With over 70 guests in attendance, the get-together showcased an extensive slideshow of projects implemented.

The day served to appreciate the families of farmers, contractors, local businesses, county highway staff, county supervisors, engineering support, area legislators, state and federal conservation partners and funding organizations who partner to support local conservation practices, initiatives and projects.

Many hands help the district carry out its mission of promoting voluntary, economically viable and environmentally conscience agriculture through the continual implementation of diverse projects with planning from a locally led Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Program.

Practicing gratitude

The Madison SWCD District Board (L – R): Jim Cunningham, Cedric Barnes III, Alan Hough, Charlie Pace and TJ Stokes. Photo by Troy Bishopp

Efforts in 2023 were still challenging due to unpredictable weather, construction material delays, untimely concrete deliveries and finding available contractors. District Manager Steve Lorraine and his staff of eight secured funding opportunities for the design and construction of grade stabilization projects, municipal culvert projects, stream remediation, manure storage projects, pasture systems, fencing, laneways, spring developments, milkhouse waste systems, heavy use areas, a mortality composting facility, riparian buffers, conservation tillage and planting over 800 acres of cover crops.

“The timely work of the district and our partners has shown, after the recent flooding events, to help mitigate damage to critical infrastructure on roads and farms,” emphasized Lorraine.

Additionally, district staff managed construction projects, planted trees, installed fencing on stream buffers, consulted on grazing management, developed and applied nutrient management plans, took soil samples, delineated watersheds for culvert sizing, secured stream and lake permits, led educational training events and held their popular annual tree sale within their busy schedule.

The district also worked with the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, NYS DEC, NYS Environmental Protection Fund and the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FL-LOWPA) to secure funding resources through year-round, extensive grant writing.

To learn more about the work the Madison County SWCD does for the community (or to get your 2024 tree sale order form), call 315.824.9849 or visit

by Troy Bishopp