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Calvin Ernst

'63 B.S. Ag Bioscience

A 1963 graduate with a bachelor's degree in agricultural bioscience, Ernst founded Ernst Crownvetch Farms in 1964. The farm grew crownvetch seed, plugs and propagules that were used by U.S. highway departments and other agencies for erosion control and roadside beautification.

After recognizing the limited market for crownvetch and the expanding use of native seeds in the environmental industry, he changed the name of his company to Ernst Conservation Seeds, an operation wholly owned by the Ernst family.

Ernst's farm began with just five acres of crownvetch but now encompasses about 10,000 acres of native grasses and wildflowers. As his customer base broadened, his main focus became identifying and producing native species, and he began specializing in custom mixes for wetland mitigation, restoration, wildlife habitat and soil bioengineering materials.

Today, Ernst is a successful grower of approximately 400 native species of seeds and plants. His objectives include identifying and locating native species with restoration and conservation value that are cultivated into mass production.

Ernst has received several accolades throughout his career, including the American Agriculturist Master Farmer award in 2008, the Governor Raymond P. Shafer Distinguished Service to the Community Award in 2007 and the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program Special Service Award in 2004. He is a member of several trade, professional and conservation organizations.