Man with shirt and tie holds plaque
Leonard Fox was chosen the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District Volunteer of the Year.

SHELBY – Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (Richland SWCD) announced Leonard N. Fox as the 2023 Richland SWCD Volunteer of the Year at the joint Richland County Farm Bureau and Richland SWCD annual celebration on Sept. 7 at the Kehoe Center.

In addition to being recognized by Richland SWCD, State Senator Mark Romanchuk, State Representative Marilyn John, and the Richland County Commissioners marked Leonard’s volunteer award with commendations.

Leonard began volunteering with Richland SWCD in 2016. He serves the district as a precipitation monitor and reports daily rain and snow amounts in real-time on the Richland SWCD website.

“Being a farmer, you are always interested in the weather,” Fox said. “Rainfall is important for so many reasons including crop growth.”

Leonard Fox posses here with his wife Kathy.

Leonard enjoys volunteering with the district because he said the precipitation monitor program is easy to use and he is pleased the data helps the county and can be used nationally.

Leonard also volunteers with the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and participates in the Knights of Columbus.

He enjoys beekeeping, hunting, fishing, spending time with family at their farm and at the lake in the summer months. He planted butterfly-friendly plants and milkweed plots to help Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

Each fall he collects the milkweed pods and donates them to Richland SWCD for distribution.

He is semi-retired from Schumacher Farms, Inc. where he is part owner. Fox and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters, Theresa and Michele, sons-in-law Jeremy and Michael, and four grandsons Xavier, Calvin, Sam, and Jack.

Richland SWCD plants a tree in honor of the volunteer of the year because Leonard and other volunteers are committed to soil and water health and a tree provides long-lasting benefits.

In addition to providing shade and adding beauty to an area, trees reduce the amount of stormwater runoff which helps reduce erosion and pollution in our waterways.

Leonard Fox is shown here with Theresa Sutter, of the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District.

Native trees are adapted to our climate, require less watering, and their strong roots help hold soil in place.

Each volunteer of the year picks a public location for the tree planting and Leonard chose Seltzer Park in Shelby, near the gazebo and playscape, because his grandchildren enjoy playing on the playscape.

A Black Gum tree was planted in Leonard’s honor in August. Black Gum trees are native to the Eastern United States including Ohio, other than in the drier counties in the northwestern part of the state.

A Black Gum tree also goes by the name Tupelo. Each fall the tree will be bathed in beautiful scarlet and orange hues.

Although hardly noticed by people, the flowers and fruit are a good source of nectar for bees and food for birds.

As it grows, it will contribute to the beauty of the park to be enjoyed by Leonard and Kathy, their family, our community, and future generations. 

The Shelby Park staff, Mayor Schag, and others assisted in the tree planting. Jerry Marshall, Shelby Park Supervisor, and his staff will care for the Black Gum in coming years.

Leonard received the Richland SWCD Forestry Award in 2014. Between 2012 and 2014 he developed a forestry management plan to help meet his goals for his woodland.

Fox improved 40 acres of woodlands with grapevine removal and culling of mediocre trees.

By following his Forest Stand Improvement Plan, Leonard allowed the profitable trees room to grow which improved the woodlands value. 

To learn more about services and programs Richland SWCD provides, please visit or call 419-747-8686.

The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District develops, implements, and assists landowners, government agencies and our partners with a wide range of natural resource conservation programs.

Programs and assistance of the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District are available without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, or veteran status.

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