SMITHFIELD, Ohio (WTRF) — With rolling hills, green grass and grazing livestock, Jodee and Jules Verhovec’s 132-acre property is a picture of Buckeye State beauty.

But it didn’t always look this way.

When they bought this land in Smithfield, it was filled with metal and garbage—but their cleanup work earned them a 2023 Ohio Conservation Farm Family Award.

The honor from the Department of Agriculture came after years of rehabilitation work.

Truck beds, car hoods and mattresses littered the land.

But they were determined to make it habitable for wildlife again, and it was a project so large it even involved the Public Works Commission.

“They come in and took another 2000 or more tires off and hauled them away. And then we had another fella come in with roll offs and he hauled roll-off after roll-off of scrap metal away…A whole litany of metal from vehicles and any other debris that we found here. And a lot of snakes in the tires.”

Jodee and Jules Verhovec, Received 2023 Conservation Farm Family Award

Jodee was well aware of the value of land rehabilitation.

She was on the Jefferson County Soil and Water Board for 15 years, and the two credit their methods for the healthy land they worked for today.

The couple says it’s not just that conservation is an important principle to them personally.

They’re methods that have proven themselves in sustaining Ohio’s countryside year after year and for generation after generation.