Meet the District
The Butler Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) currently has four staff members and a Board of five Supervisors. In addition, there are two Natural Resource Conservation Service employees based at the Butler SWCD office.
Board of Supervisors
The Butler SWCD board consists of 5 Butler County residents who donate their time and experience to oversee district efforts. Current board members are David Brate, Jeremy Fruth, Gary Gerber, Nathan Gillespie and Linda Peters.
The Board are elected in a public election under ORC 1515. Terms are three years long. To find out more, and if you are interested in running for the board, please contact the District at 513-887-3720.
Background: Jeremy Fruth is a production grain and cattle farmer from Wayne Township , where he lives with his wife and two sons. Jeremy farms 1,200 acres consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. He has been long affiliated with Miami University’s biology, geology and environmental science departments where he graduated, and works in research and lab development.
Conservation Practices: Jeremy has installed over 10,000ft of CRP waterway projects over the last few years through the SWCD on his farms. He has formally been awarded the Joe Dudley Outstanding Conservationist, and has completed two Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans.
Community Involvement: In the past, Jeremy has helped lead our county’s FFA soils judging competition. He is currently an adult advisor for the Butler County Junior Fair Board.
What do you hope to contribute? Having worked for Soil and Water from 2007-2010, Jeremy understands the conservation issues that the agriculture and urban communities face in Butler County. He hopes to offer his guidance to assist with these issues.
Background: Nathan Gillespie is a 4th generation farmer in Milford Township, and has lived in Butler County all his life. He and his wife Angie have three children. He is a full time farmer and owns 65 acres which have been in his family for over 100 years. He farms corn, wheat, soybeans, hay and pumpkins, and also does custom farming. Nathan enjoys raising registered Herefords and showing them with his family. He also has a cow/calf operation selling freezer beef. Nathan graduated from Talawanda High School and Hobart Institute of Welding Technology as a combination welder.
Conservation Practices: Nathan has installed 4,810 feet of waterways, a 40 x 58’ Dry Stack Animals Waste Facility and a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) on his farm. 75% of his crop is no-till and the rest is minimum tillage. He and his family have cover crops on 25% of their ground, and also use variable rate fertilizer.
Community Involvement: He has served on the Milford Township Fire Department for 25 years, currently as a Lieutenant. His family attends the St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Darrtown, Ohio. Nathan is a lifetime Talawanda FFA Alumni member, Lifetime NRA member, and has served on the Butler County Farm Bureau Board.
What do you hope to contribute? " I have learned a lot about conservation and how Soil and Water Districts operate and make a positive impact on our County. I have also met some great people not only in our County, but around the State, and even the Nation. I would like to continue serving the county representing rural and urban residents alike. With the current and future environmental issues facing agriculture on the horizon, I feel my knowledge and input can still continue to be a valuable asset to the board."
Background: Gary Gerber lives in Wayne Township with his wife, Cari and their three children; Kelli, Lauren, and Clayton. Gary has been farming alongside his father, Jerry since Gary graduated high school. Gary and his father have expanded the farm that his grandfather started in 1952. Gary is a third- generation family farmer, and is the current owner and manager of Gerber Farms Inc. The family operates an 1,800 acre row crop farm; along with running a 150 head cow heard, and finishing out 400-500 head of fat cattle.
Conservation Practices: Proper conservation practices are very important to Gary and Gerber Farms makes sustainability a big priority when making their farming decisions. Gary has worked with Butler SWCD and NRCS for many years installing many grassed waterways, filter strips, and manure storage buildings.
Community Involvement: Outside of farming, Gary enjoys spending time with his family. Gary is the Vice President of the Butler County Agricultural Society, and is in charge of the Jr. Fair Horse Department. Gary is also a member of the Butler County Cattleman's Association.
What do you hope to contribute? Gary wanted to be on the Butler SWCD board because he felt a strong desire to give back to the organization that has given so much to him, his family, and their farm over the years.
Background: Linda Peters is a 39-year resident of Liberty Township, and a lifelong resident of Butler County. She and her husband Frank have two grown daughters. Linda recently retired from teaching. Linda has a B.S. in Elementary Education and Library Science, and a M.A. in Education. She taught for 25 years, first at Middletown City Schools, and then at Lakota Local Schools.
Experience: During her teaching career, Linda was chair of her department, served on several building and district committees, and helped develop curriculum for the science and social studies departments.
Community Involvement: Linda’s community activities include 4 years as PTA president, opening two new schools, and 30 years with Girl Scouting. She served as troop leader where she helped 20 of her scouts achieve their Gold Award. Several of their projects centered around pond building and outdoor learning centers within the Lakota Schools. She also served as District Manager, being responsible for over 700 scouts and 100 leaders. Over a period of 9 years, Linda coordinated and ran Girl Scout Day Camps and camporees that were attended by over 2,000 scouts. Currently she is involved with the Mason Ohio Star Quilting Guild.
What do you hope to contribute? Linda states that her main goal is to assist the Butler SWCD educational and outreach programs, which she used in her classroom while teaching. By using her educational background, Linda wants to help strengthen and develop programs that help future generations understand that conservation of our natural resources is important to all Butler County residents. She believes that her educational background provide a different perspective to the Butler SWCD board.
Background: David R. Brate founded Brate &Co. in 1979 and has provided real estate management, leasing, sales, appraisal, and consultation services for farm owners in more than twenty-five Ohio counties. He is a licensed real estate broker and is an accepted expert witness in Common Pleas and Federal Bankruptcy Courts regarding agriculture issues. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University, with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics.
Conservation Practices: For the the past two years David seeded cover crops on his grain farm in order to help control erosion; a program he encouraged the district to implement.
Community Involvement: David has served as President of the Ohio Chapter of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, Supervisor of Butler Soil and Water Conservation District for twelve years, Chairman of Butler County Ohio State University Extension Advisory Committee, and a Member of the Butler County Farm Bureau.
What do you hope to contribute? David has served on committees, lobbied, and made presentations advocating the care of our land and water. he feels that his experience in the agriculture industry will serve as an asset to the Butler SWCD, to effectively promote and implement wise conservation practices. "Education is an important bridge in the process, one that will affect generations to come."
Contact me to learn more about projects and programs, wanting to buy rain barrels or other products, questions about board meetings, or general questions about the district
Background: I have lived in Butler County all my life. I was raised on a grain farm outside of Seven Mile, Ohio, and continue to help with the family farm today. I attended Edgewood High School and was involved in 4-H and FFA growing up. In 2011 I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Geology from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. I also attended the University of Akron and received my Master’s degree in Geology with my thesis titled “Assessing Two Centuries of Anthropogenic Impacts on Silver Lake, Summit County, Ohio. “
What do I like most about my job? I like being able to work with all Butler County residents. Coming from a farm background I like to work with the agricultural community because it is familiar to me. However, working for the District has also allowed me to work with the urban community in promoting conservation.
What do I like most about Butler County? I like that our County has a mix of both agricultural and urban areas. Butler County is in a position to understand the importance of both agricultural and urban conservation practices and ways to continue to promote more conservation programs.
Education & Volunteer Specialist
Contact me to learn more about our education programs, scholarships, and volunteer opportunities, along with composting, rain gardens and other beneficial yard practices.
Background: I was hired in 2004 to work with schools to provide education programs. Since then my job has evolved into working with volunteers, planning events, and creating all of the district's publications.
I am originally from the West Coast of Scotland. I moved to Butler County for graduate school, where I met my husband. I have my BA from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and my MA from Miami University. Both degrees are in geography with a focus on changes that we make to the natural environment. My undergrad research focused on the damage to sand dunes and my masters looked at the impact of environmental education on people's impacts on coral reefs. As you can see from my research, I have a love for the ocean after having spent most days as a child playing on the beach and in rockpools.
What do I like most about my job? The chance to always learn and share this love of learning with so many people.
What do I like most about Butler County? Being out in nature whether hiking the trails or kayaking on the river.
Contact me to learn more about cover crops, waterways, buffer strips, conservation tillage, rural drainage, and other conservation practices.
Background: A native of Butler County, born in Hamilton and raised in Okeana, I spent much of my youth on my Grandfather's farm. It is here that I gained my earliest experiences in farming. While attending Ross High School I was able to spend time there as an FFA member and get involved in our chapter. Because of these things I chose to further my education by attending Wilmington College and major in agronomy. I graduated from Wilmington College with a Bachelor's of Science in Agronomy.
I have had the opportunity to intern two consecutive summers in the agricultural cooperative world both at Harvest Land Coop in College Corner, Ohio and with Land O Lakes on the Answer Plot Team.
What do I like most about my job? I enjoy working along side the Butler NRCS team to assist farmers and landowners with their unique conservation needs.
What do I like most about Butler County? The multitude of farming operations located within the county.
Water Resource Specialist
Contact me to learn more about urban drainage, stream erosion, aquatic pollution, watersheds, and other water resource issues.
Background: I was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio. I attended Lancaster High School where I began to find interest in biology and environmental issues. I received my Bachelor's degree in Marine, Freshwater, and Environmental Biology in 2019, where I focused my research on climate change and acid pollution on aquatic midge larvae. I continued my education at Ohio University and graduated with my Master's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2021. My graduate work consisted of researching Pennsylvanian streams, where I studied the biological response of aquatic organisms to stream restoration. My thesis was titled "Restoring Streams to Pre-Colonization Conditions in Pennsylvania: What Periphyton, Macroinvertebrates, and Fish can tell us about the Release of Legacy Nutrients."
What do I like most about my job? The opportunity to explore and express my interests in aquatic ecology and work on protecting Butler County's watersheds.
What do I like most about Butler County? I enjoy meeting new people, learning new places, and getting to know what the county has to offer.
Financial & Communications Coordinator
Contact me to learn about our programs, purchasing products such as rain barrels, or with general questions in regards to our district.
Background: I was born in Butler County, and raised on my family’s third-generation Black Angus cattle farm, just south of Reily. Growing up I was an active member of both the Oxford Livestock 4-H club and the Talawanda FFA. Through both of these chapters I participated in raising and exhibiting market lambs at the Butler County Fair, as well as competing in Livestock Evaluation and Equine Management. I attended Miami University for my undergraduate degree, receiving a Bachelor’s of Arts in History with a minor in Anthropology. With an interest in pursuing a career educating the general public, I attended Connecticut State University, in New Britain, Connecticut, graduating with a Master’s of Arts degree in Public History.
My occupational background has primarily been focused in research, writing, marketing, event planning, and communications. With a passion for travel, I have held positions all over the country, from the wild west of Park City, Utah (as the Park City Museum Research Librarian) to the Appalachian foothills of Rio Grande, Ohio (as Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative Communication Specialist).
What do I like most about my job? This position affords me the opportunity to promote the continuation and conservation of the county I grew up in. Agriculture and rural life have been exceedingly transformative to my upbringing, and this job gives me the chance to give back to the community that has given me so much to be thankful for! I am eager to learn and grow in the soil and water conservation world.
Natural Resource Tech
Background: I was born and raised in Portland, Maine and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio back in 2012. When I first moved to this area I volunteered at the Village Green Foundation, mostly weeding the community gardens and doing invasive species removal. I then began to dabble in growing vegetables and herbs in my spare time, learning as I went. In the summer of 2020 I decided I wanted to get more serious about horticulture and found a great program at Cincinnati State Technical & Community College. I will be graduating in August of 2022 and will receive an Associates degree in Sustainable Horticulture. I plan to continue my education and hope to specialize in brownfield restoration and native habitat conservation. There is a special place in my heart for Ohio wetlands, and I hope to take part in restoring as many as possible.
What do I like most about my job? I love all of the different types of work we do here and how important education and conservation is. I am excited to be part of the team and I can't wait to learn as much as I can from all of the very knowledgeable people I get to work with.
What do I like most about Butler County? I love exploring the area and seeing all of the community driven events happening. I am excited to spend more time up here and to get to know the business owners and community members.
Chief Barketing Executive
Background: Born on a farm in Adams County, Ohio I learned all about agriculture and how to herd cows. I am a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and love attention, don't be afraid to say hi.
What do I like most about my job? I love coming into work every day and telling everyone good morning. Also the endless supply of pant legs and shoe laces for me to chew on. Everyone says I am a good boy and gives me lots of treats. It is really great.
Natural Resource Conservation Services Staff
Ohio's NRCS Mission: Helping Ohioans protect their land and our environment.
Ohio's NRCS Vision: Ohio lands protected and environment respected.
NRCS has two employees based in Butler County who also serve Hamilton County.
John Williams, III
Contact me to learn about Farm Bill Programs and any of your natural resource concerns.
Background: I have been the District Conservationist in Butler & Hamilton Counties for over 10 years. I am originally from Nashville, Tenn., but have been here in Ohio for almost 20 years.
What do I like most about my job? I like the opportunity to work with different landowners and helping them address their natural resource concerns.
What do I like most about Butler County? I like the fact that Butler Co. has both the agricultural foundation and the urban flair that most counties don’t have.
Contact me to learn about Farm Bill Programs and any of your natural resource concerns.
Background: I am from Northern Kentucky and graduated from the University of Kentucky. My degree was in Plant and Soil Science with a minor in Music Performance.