"I think the most gratifying thing is the way we feel about it. It's important to us and that's the big thing."
John Koontz and his son, Kenny, go the extra mile to keep their farm healthy.
"We are interested in clean air and pure water," he said. Going beyond standards set by the Department of Environmental Quality have earned Koontz Family Farms in Mt. Jackson statewide recognition.
But the Koontzs' aren't in it for the fame. They're in it for the farm.
"When we got into the poultry business, there were certain things we needed to do, and it made us aware of things we wanted to do," Koontz said.
More than a decade ago, these eco-conscious farmers started with something called a Nutrient Management Plan.
"Our Nutrient Management Plan is like a roadmap. It tells us on a 10 acre field of corn that we can put four tons or two tons of litter per acre."
That's important because too much potent poultry litter at one place could contaminate the soil and ground water. But the Koontzs' didn't stop there.
"We have dug wells and put in fountains where the cattle drink," Koontz said. The Koontzs' also built fences to keep their cows out of farm ponds and streams. This buffer zone keeps the water pure and the cattle healthy.
And all their efforts have paid off. Pilgrim's Pride awarded the Koontzs with $500 for their environmental excellence.
"I think you have to believe in it," Koontz said. "You have to believe that what little you do is going to make a difference."
Now the Koontz Family Farm and the DEQ are preparing another project. This one will establish food plots to harvest deer and help control the doe to buck ratio.