us remember the childrens story of stone soup where Napoleons soldiers showed
the French villagers how to make soup when everyone shared a little bit. The lesson
children should learn from this is one of sharing. I learned a different lesson from this
story and thats how to get people to share. First you need the objective of what
youre after, and then someone needs to divide all the parts into bite sized pieces
for all the participants. Thats the technique we used to buy 44 specialized grass
seeding and no-till drills in South Dakota at a cost of about $1,000,000.
The issue we were working on was how to get
native grass planted and encourage farmers to use no-till methods in their grain
production. Both need specialized equipment which most farmers dont have.
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Program joined with South Dakotas conservation districts, the South Dakota
Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Ducks Unlimited and a bunch of local groups and
businesses to buy the machines, which cost about $22,000 each. The conservation districts
agreed to pay for half the cost of the drills, and own them and operate them. They charge
farmers a per acre rental fee to use the drills. Any profit is theirs.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, South
Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and Ducks Unlimited shared the other half of the purchase
price. Like a race car on the Nascar circuit, everyone who contributes gets their logo on
the drill. Every farmer who uses the drill cant help but see who made it possible.
There is now a network of these
specialized drills available to farmers all across South Dakota to restore native
grasslands or get acquainted with no-till farming. Since we started the program in 1997,
2,900 farmers have planted 153,000 acres of grass and 10,000 acres of no-till crops.
There is no way that any of the
partners in this project could have done this alone. When we all agreed to make this pot
of soup and each of us put in a little bit of our treasure, the plan came together. I
cant help but stand back now and smile when I see the machines rolling up acre after
acre. I feel a little like a French soldier about to enjoy the fruits of his effort to
bring people together to accomplish something non of us could have done alone.