CLEMONS - Looking over his land with flowing prairie grass, Denny Baker couldn't help but smile.
"Looking across this is gorgeous," Baker said.
Baker owns 80 acres northwest of Clemons including a fish hatchery and hunting preserve. His love of outdoor recreation has led to a love of the stewardship of the land.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Denny Baker looks through a prairie grass area on his land northwest of Clemons. Baker was honored with an Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award recently for his stewardship of the land. He has planted prairie grass and thousands of trees on his land for more than 20 years.
All of this has resulted in Baker receiving one of 67 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards in the state this year, a new award presented at the recent Iowa State Fair.
For decades, Baker has maintained prairie grass areas, which formerly was cropland through the Conservation Reserve Program. He also said he has a love affair with planting trees and has planted thousands of them through the past two decades.
"I didn't plant trees and grasses to be recognized," Baker said. "I just love the outdoors."
Taking the prairie land out of production is especially important to prevent soil erosion.
The fish hatchery on the land has been operating for 20 years and is a source of pride for Baker.
"It's very rewarding to see families come out with little kids to pick up fish for their new pond," Baker said.
Baker is a former row crop and livestock farmer in the county and also was a sales manager for Kent Feeds.
When he bought the current farm he operates in 1987 said portions of it were "nasty" and he has spent plenty of man hours both cleaning it up and laying a foundation for the future stewardship.
Allen Pattillo, fisheries extension specialist with Iowa State University Extension, sent in the application for the award for Baker.
"I knew this award was perfect for him," Pattillo said. "Denny absolutely deserves that award."
Baker is married to Kathy, the retired banking professional, and the couple have two grown children.
The environmental leader award was presented by the governor's office, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.