Stephens County Conservation District Dedicates New Building

Office building on donated land dedicated to late director Jack Ketchum

On May 11, 2009, the Stephens County Conservation District held a ceremony to dedicate the Jack Ketchum Ag Center in memory of the late Jack Ketchum who served as chairman of the district board for 17 years. The memorial honors Ketchum’s instrumental role in the success of the Stephens County Conservation District and his dedication to the conservation of Oklahoma’s natural resources.

Jack Ketchum’s family pictured with sign dedicating the Jack Ketchum Ag Center in Duncan. From left are George, Amy, Jacqueline and Kaylee Shenold; Marie Ketchum; Scott Shenold and Stacy Riley.

In 1993 a landowner named Geraldine Dunham willed 34 acres to the conservation district to be used for soil conservation purposes and conservation education. In 2003 the U.S. Department of Agriculture approached the district about increasing office space to add Rural Development and the ASCOG Resource Conservation & Development offices to the existing service center that already housed the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and the conservation district. Ketchum, district board chairman, took the lead to find funding and enable the district to create the additional space by building a larger office space on the land donated by Dunham. A new office building owned by the district was constructed on the donated land. In July of 2005 NRCS, FSA, RD, ASCOG RC&D, and the conservation district moved into the USDA Service Center located at 3901 W. Beech Avenue, now called the Jack Ketchum Ag Center.

Recently a construction company working for the Dept. of Transportation contacted the district about purchasing dirt from the property to help build exit ramps from U.S. Highway 81 Bypass to Beech Avenue. The district saw this as an opportunity to gain revenue as well as an opportunity to have a wetland area created in the location where the dirt was being removed — a win – win situation. The district is currently investigating grant opportunities to continue to development of the wetlands with a permanent outdoor classroom on the land and around the pit area.