Jim Ristau, an experienced biologist and conservationist who grew up on a family farm, has joined the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) staff as director of sustainability. In that newly created position, he will work with farmers on conservation programs, perform public outreach, conduct research trials and present field demonstrations.
Ristau will be a South Dakota Corn employee but will be stationed at Natural Resources Conservation Services offices in Chamberlain and Huron through a partnership that’s the first of its kind. He said he looks forward to promoting and implementing best-management practices and spreading a positive conservation message throughout the state.
“We have a unique opportunity in South Dakota, and I am excited to work with producers across this state on water and soil health,” Ristau said. “I firmly believe that the South Dakota Corn Growers Association has taken a leadership role by expanding its local infrastructure, and developing a strong team that will work to promote, implement and encourage conservation across South Dakota.”
Ristau has worked as a farm bill biologist for Pheasants Forever since 2004. In that role, he worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and wildlife organizations. Before that, he spent seven years as a habitat specialist with the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department and 10 years working in the private sector.
Lisa Richardson, South Dakota Corn’s executive director, said Ristau will assist farmers in understanding proven programs and practices that protect and improve water and land, and also increase profitability potential on working lands across South Dakota.
“This new position provides an avenue to help farmers sustain and protect our state’s natural resources and help ensure that our water is clean and our soil is healthy for future generations,” Richardson said. “Jim’s expertise and experience make him a perfect fit for the job.”
Ristau is a South Dakota State University graduate. He and his wife, Karen, have five children.