Texas County Conservation District’s 2011 Outstanding Cooperators

Submitted by Clancy Green, Texas County Conservation District

Texas County Conservation District selected Harold and Karen Issac as Outstanding Cooperators for 2011. The couple own and operate Isaac Farm and Ranch near Adams, Okla. The district presents the award annually to recognize local farmers and ranchers who have worked with the conservation district and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement progressive, sustainable and successful conservation programs and practices in their operations. 

Garrett King, filed representative for U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas (right), presented Harold and Karen Issac with the Texas County 2011 Outstanding Cooperator award. (Photo by Miranda Fleming, Guymon Daily Herald)

The Isaacs, who have been farming and ranching since 1968 in both Beaver and Texas Counties and who are the third generation to farm the Friesen and Isaac land, were selected by the Texas County Conservation District’s board of directors from 19 nominations. Harold and Karen were chosen not only for their successful implementation of the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and their active participation in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), but also for their progressive utilization of no-till farming practices, grazing management, and nutrient management.

“Mr. and Mrs. Isaac have shown a desire and willingness to go above and beyond in their efforts to help protect and sustain our natural resources,” said Neil Hyer, Texas County CD chair.  “They originally began minimum till in the late 1990s and have been entirely no-till farming for the past seven years, enhancing their no-till spraying operation through the use of drift reducing nozzles, low pressure systems, lowered boom heights, and the addition of adjuvants to reduce drift,” Hyer said. The Isaacs also use soil testing at least every three years to implement nutrient management on all their cropland acres and have installed geographic positioning system (GPS) equipment and swath control to help improve field condition.  Through enhanced grazing management on their grazing land and the installation of wildlife watering facilities on CRP acres, the Isaacs are also helping to improve wildlife habitat.  

The Issacs ran a commercial Hereford cow/calf operation until 2006, and currently continue to raise wheat, grain sorghum, and oats. The use of conservation practices and programs in their operation has garnered improved yields and soil quality and a reduction in wind erosion and water runoff while allowing the Isaacs to decrease the number hours spent farming and reduce the need for additional hired labor.  “We’ve been encouraged to undertake more conservation practices and we’ve been rewarded with the benefits,” Harold Isaac stated. “And it’s cost effective. Our Shelbourne header leaves more residue and we take cleaner grain to the elevator, getting less dockage,” he said.  

The Isaacs have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. The couple is active in their local communities, serving as members on both the men’s and women’s committees for the Texas County Farm Bureau, and attending Emmanuel Southern Baptist Church in Liberal, Kan. They have also been recognized for their farming and ranching involvement, serving as the Texas County Farm Bureau Family in 1993 and being honored as an Honorary FFA Chapter Farmer with the Hooker, Okla., FFA Chapter.

The Isaacs have found their participation in the conservation programs to be a positive adventure, not only for themselves, but also for their neighbors. The practices they implemented have greatly reduced the number of thistles and the amount of dirt blowing in the Oklahoma wind, leading them to encourage other farmers and ranchers to consider participating. With selection as the county winner, the Texas County Conservation District will nominate the Isaac Farm & Ranch for the Oklahoma Association of Conservation District’s Outstanding Cooperator Award, which is presented in March of each year during Conservation Day at the Capitol.