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Indiana Woman Honored by Obama as a “Champion of Change”


Thursday, March 20, 2014   

WASHINGTON – An Indiana woman's efforts to protect Lake Erie from fertilizer runoff have won her a special distinction.

President Barack Obama this week honored Carrie Vollmer-Sanders of Angola and 13 others from across the nation as Champions of Change, which highlights ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things in their communities.

Vollmer-Sanders, western Lake Erie project director of the Nature Conservancy, says she's humbled by the award, because she doesn't work alone.

"It was kind of strange,” she says. “It felt like the whole team should have been there that has been working on the program.

“But it's just unbelievable to be able to take our program and share it with so many people."

Vollmer-Sanders helped to develop the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program, which was announced this week.

It is a voluntary, third party program in which farmers' fertilizer and crop advisers can be recognized for their efforts to improve water quality.

The agriculture industry and land grant universities developed the 4R principles.

Vollmer-Sanders says the principles refer to using the right nutrient at the right rate in the right place at the right time.

"If we can get those principles implemented on every acre within the western Lake Erie basin, we really think we're going to have huge impacts to help clean the lake up and we should have an increase in yields to farmers in the area," she explains.

Fertilizer runoff can lead to excess nutrients in streams, rivers and lakes, which can cause algae blooms.

Vollmer-Sanders says it can be a problem for aquatic organisms and have a negative impact on the environment, tourism and fishing.

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