Albion College, Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center Earn State Environmental Certification

Bobby Lee
Albion College Communication Office

Albion College made history on October 29, 2009 as the first college in the State of Michigan to become certified in the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP). Additionally, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is recognizing the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center at the college as a verified farm in the Livestock, Farmstead and Cropping Systems for implementing appropriate pollution prevention practices.

Never before has a property been recognized in both programs, which is a remarkable accomplishment.

"MAEAP and MTESP are designed to be one of the most effective and feasible ways for producers to position their farms long term for safeguarding both the environment and their economic viability," said Don Koivisto, Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director. "By sharing technological information and monitoring and recording changes in the way producers manage problems, MAEAP helps farmers find solutions for potential pollution problems."

Interest in Michigan's voluntary, proactive programs for certifying and assuring effective land stewardship practices is growing. The programs help turfgrass managers and farmers comply with state and federal environmental regulations and implement best management practices.

"I personally want to thank the Michigan golf course superintendents for leading the way with the development of the MTESP. Educational institutions, park systems, and government operations need to adopt the MTESP for the common good. It will enhance all operations and protect our valuable Michigan fresh water," said Albion College President Donna Randall.

The MAEAP and MTESP are collaborative efforts with producers, MDA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, Michigan State University, conservation groups, and other state and federal agencies. MTESP was launched with the golf industry and has expanded to include schools, parks, lawn care companies and golf courses, all of which can become certified environmental stewards.

MAEAP encompasses three systems designed to help producers evaluate the environmental risks of their operation. Each system – Livestock, Farmstead, and Cropping – examines a different aspect of a farm, as each has a different environmental impact. By participating in all three systems, producers can comprehensively evaluate their entire farming operation for potential environmental risks.

Both the MTESP and the MAEAP follow a comprehensive three step process which includes attending educational seminars, conducting a thorough on-site risk assessment with a trained professional, and developing and implementing an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. An MDA inspection verifies practice implementation.

Albion College Director of Grounds, Mark Frever, believes this is a highly valuable process, "There is no discussion of sustainability, if we don't protect our natural resources first". To remain active in the programs, inspections must be conducted every three years and action steps must be followed. The beauty of these multi-year programs is that they allow properties to meet personal objectives, while best managing both time and resources.