Charles Holmes, a Perry County landowner and Alabama TREASURE Forest Association board member, recently received the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence.
The annual award honors a landowner whose principles mirror those of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) first leader, who helped farmers recover from the Dust Bowl.
Holmes and his wife, Jenny, have managed the family farm, Holmestead Co., in Marion since 1972. They have three sons, William, Webb and Cooper. The farm’s first conservation plan was written in 1939 and has been updated several times as conservation technology and information evolved.
“Jenny and I hope the next generation will take what we’ve been given and make it even better,” Holmes said.
The Conservation Excellence award is presented by the National Conservation Planning Partnership. Holmes’ lengthy conservation experience and wise stewardship netted him the award, said NRCS Alabama State Conservationist Ben Malone.
“Mr. Holmes has a commitment to conservation planning and implementation of conservation practices that is exhibited by the many recognitions he has received,” he said. “His farm’s designations as a TREASURE Forest, Tree Farm and Stewardship Forest are indicative of his planning and implementation of forestry practices.”
Holmes was an early adopter of soil health practices. His commitment to healthy soils has followed the farm’s evolution from a row crop operation to a more diversified crop, cattle and timber farm to, finally, the family’s current forestry, wildlife, education, heritage and agritourism venture.
Holmes has received the prestigious Helene Mosley Memorial TREASURE Forest Award for multiple-use management and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Environmental Stewardship Award. During his tenure on the Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District, the district was recognized as the national winner of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Earth Team Award.
Holmes is past president of the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts, current chair of the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee, a member of the Alabama Agriculture and Conservation Development Commission and serves on the Perry County Farmers Federation board.
Nationally, Holmes is known for his passion, dedication and infectious laughter. He served for 28 years as a director on the National Association of Conservation Districts board and received the National Conservation District Board Member Award recognizing his leadership and personal commitment to conservation and stewardship.