Kinsel D. Swihart, 2022 Conservation of the Year Award winner, was presented with a Master Conservationist Certificate and wooden, engraved plaque awarded to him by the Hancock County Conservation District, Kentucky Soil & Water Commission, KY Association of Conservation Service and KY Association of Conservation District Employees for his outstanding efforts for many years in conservation at his farm in Hancock County.
Kinsel got started in farming with his father, and went on to purchase his farm in the county. Through conservation services, he said he learned how to continue to improve his farming practices.
Gary Baker, District 4 Magistrate and Hancock County Conservation Technician for over 20 years, presented him with the award. He recalled the first project he was directly involved with at Kinsel’s farm in October of 2000. “It was on the back side where he had a big gully wash,” Baker said. “Kinsel wanted to prevent the erosion from happening on his farm. He did a great job working with us and we assisted him on working on his erosion control prob- lem, trying to keep the soil on his farm.
He’s always been great with us. He uses best management practices, maintains his water quality plan and keeps up with his cattle. He’s always been on top of everything here on his farm. When we did a project with him, he always wanted suggestions and he would try something new.
He never minded on any project we ever wanted to do with him and he would ask for technical assistance and was always willing to learn and do better on the farming operation.”
Kinsel said the very first project he did with conservation services was around 1980. “We did waterway erosion diversion around all the hills,” he said. “That was my first project with John Brown and another fella from Breckinridge County. A little after that we reclaimed some ground that had washed out, and did a pond for the cattle.
I bought this farm in 1979. I bought it at the courthouse door, and it belonged to my grandfather, L.B. Morris. This 124 acres on the backside, a 60 some acre farm, belonged to my father, Griffin Swihart. Now there are a little over 200 acres here I suppose. I bought the last block of ground from Atwood Swihart at an auction 2 years ago and it squared my farm up.
In 2021, I came down with prostate cancer and I got over that and I’m cancerfree. Then, I came down with long covid. That lasted better than a year. I had to quit farming. We sold about half the cattle. Now that I’ve retired, I’m still coming out of covid. It messed my balance up and I went through a lot of rehab. Now, I’m doing a whole lot better.
We’ve been trying to get the farm cleaned back up. In 2021, when I was down, I built several thousand feet of new fences and that was through the Soil Conservation Service. Also, in years past, we did water way projects. We got money for cattle handling equipment – scales, etc.
We got money for a cattle pad on our other farm to feed hay on. It all came from Soil Conservation, and was a match fund (KY State Cost Share Program).”
He said they are currently still at half the num- ber of cattle they used to have, but that they plan to build it back up. “There’s about 50 head here,” he said. “They’re Black Angus. I don’t raise any crops. I have 100 acres of row crop that I own and my son-in-law raises that.”
Kinsel and his wife, Susan, married in 1976. She works with him to help make their family farm a success. “I rake hay when it’s time,” she said. “I haul hay. I weed eat and mow. I do fencing and feed the cattle. I put out hay. I do whatever my husband tells me to do.”
The two are blessed with 4 grown daughters. “They all have a college education,” Susan said. “We helped them and they worked their way through. They had their own cattle. Each one of them had to raise a tobacco patch to get their first car. Each one of our girls worked as hard as a boy did. All of our girls were always ready to help.”
Kinsel & Susan’s daughters are: Kristina, Tamara, Samantha and Rebecca. Kristina works at Hancock County Farm Supply, and is married to Edmond Wheatley. Tamara is married to Kurt Clark. She is an HR Manager for Canam Steel Corp. Samantha married Mark Row, and teaches 8th grade language arts at College View Middle School. Rebecca lives in Danville, KY, and works at the Dialysis Clinic.