Berrien Conservation District

Managing your Natural Resources

Free Drinking Well Water Screening!!

The Berrien Conservation District and the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) will sponsor a free well water screening day on Thursday, September 16th and Friday, September 17th from 8:00am-4:00pm. Anyone who wishes to have their well water tested free of charge can bring water samples to the Berrien Conservation District office at 3334 Edgewood Road, Berrien Springs.

Samples from drinking water wells will be screened for nitrate and nitrite. The screening is open to everyone who uses a personal well for drinking water. Forms should be filled out in advance and are available at the Conservation District office, and online at The service is for private drinking wells only. Public water supplies are regularly tested. Please do not bring samples from public water supplies or non-drinking water sources. Only drinking well water samples will be tested. You do not have use a special bottle for this screening. Any small clean jar will work—one ounce of water is enough. You will not receive your water collection device back.

Please follow the directions below to sample your well. Collect samples just before taking them to the sample drop-off. Samples must be less than 48 hours old for a valid nitrate and nitrite result.

  1. Fill out the water sample information sheet.
  2. Pick a tap that supplies water that has not run through any treatment devices (water softener, carbon filter, etc.)
  3. Run the water 20-30 minutes before collecting the sample. This will give the pump time to flush the water pressure tank and plumbing so you can collect a valid sample. Disconnect any hoses before collecting the sample; do not sample through a hose. Rinse the sample bottle and lid thoroughly in the water to be sampled; then fill the bottle.
  4. Label the bottle clearly with your name, sampling date, and the well name (cottage well, Moms well, house well, etc.) using a waterproof pen.
  5. Keep the sample dark and cold (on ice or refrigerated) until it is dropped off.
  6. When you arrive at the Berrien Conservation District office place the sample in the cooler filled with cold packs located in the entrance way for contactless drop-off.

All results are confidential. You will get your results as well as information on what to do should nitrite or nitrates show up in your drinking water.

Please fill out the sample information sheet completely and bring it with your water sample. You can get more information from the Berrien Conservation District office at 269-471-9111 ext. 3, online at, or email

Monthly Board Meeting and Budget Hearing will be Monday, September 13th, at 12 noon.  Location: Berrien County Farm Bureau, 8980 US 31, Suite 1, Berrien Springs, MI 49103

If you wish to ask a question of a board member or manager:

Board Chair/Director, Brandy Wise-Tenter, email

Treasurer/Director, Ryan Postema, email

Director, Bette Pierman, email

Director, Kait Lemon, email

Director, Terry Holloway, email

Manager, Nancy Carpenter, 269-471-9111 x3 or email 

A Letter to Teachers! 

Dear School Principal/Administrator/Teacher:
Our mission is to promote the protection and improvement of Berrien County's natural resources through education, management, and technical assistance. 
The Conservation District has received an "Earth Day Grant" from the Berrien Community Foundation. This grant was written to provide elementary and middle school aged students in grades first through eighth a free small tree seedling. In addition, classrooms can win a worm composting kit for their class by submitting a winning essay on the environment.
  • All students in grades one through eighth grade in Berrien County are eligible to request a free white pine tree seedling to plant. These will be generally 6 to 10 inches tall . However, this is on a first come basis based on funding availability. We anticipate being able to give out up to 12,000 seedlings. 
  • Teachers need to email me by -Deadline extended-new date June 25th, 2021, with the anticipated number of students in their classroom for the fall. Emails will be kept in order as they are received. If the total number requested exceeds the available number, the later received emails from teachers will be kept on a waiting list for the future. I will email teachers a reminder in the fall, planting instructions, and a location where and when (anticipate the last week of September or first week of October) the seedlings can be picked up. 
  • Students can only receive one seedling even if they are in multiple participating classrooms. 
  • The goal is for teachers to provide an age appropriate conversation about the environment and taking care of the earth, and if possible incorporate planting trees and their benefits into a lesson plan.  
  • The Conservation District may be taking photos of those picking up trees and providing the media with information about the project. No students will be photographed unless the teachers wish to send me photos of the children planting trees--that would be great!
  • At least ten (10) worm composting kits will be issued to the winning classes of an essay contest. For teachers that wish to participate in this contest the goal is to have input by the students; the teacher can put it together and send it to me but the words should be by the students of that teacher's class. There are 3 age divisions: Grades 1-3, grades 4-6, and grades 7-8. Judging will be by the Berrien County Conservation District Board of Directors. The general topic is the environment, you may choose to talk about planting trees, recycling, composting, clean air/water, or other environmental issues. One to two pages long in either pdf or word doc. Include name and contact information of teacher and name of school and grade. 
  • Worm composting kits are designed to work all year. Teachers should consider this as they may have to take it home over the summer break. 
  • Teachers may request both trees and enter the contest for the kits, or just one or the other. 
  • The goal is for the teacher to provide an age appropriate conversation about the environment and taking care of the earth, and if possible incorporate composting and its benefits into a lesson plan. 
I do not have a comprehensive list of teachers in grades 1-8. PLEASE forward this to any teachers that you think may be interested. 
Feel free to email me questions.
Deadline to request trees is June 25, 2021 - remember this is for your fall classes
Deadline to submit essay is September 21st, 2021, send email in word document or pdf form to
Funds for this project provided in part or whole from the Berrien Community Foundation Heart of the Cook Earth Day Grant


Thank you to those who joined us for our virtual annual meeting on February  18th. Kait Lemon and Bette Pierman won the election for board of directors. We thank Alan Martin for his service serving on the board for  the last six years. 


Kait Lemon was born and raised in southwest Michigan and has recently moved back to the area to work on her family's fruit farm and vineyard.  She is an avid gardener and loves to grow unique heirloom varieties.  A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Kait holds a bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resources Management, and is currently enrolled in the forest carbon graduate program at Michigan State University.

Kait spent the last three years of her natural resources career working as a field and program coordinator for the Idaho Conservation Corps, overseeing a variety of conservation crews for the state.  She has experience working as conservation crew leader in Oregon and Washington, as a wilderness ranger with the US forest service in Colorado, and as a field biologist in Montana, Hawaii and Michigan.  She is excited to return to her home state and use her conservation experience to better the coastal and local ecosystems of Berrien County.  

Alan Martin has been a Berrien Conservation District Director for six years and is running for the position again. 

Alan Appreciates having Grown Up On a Small Farm, is Thankful for Having a Good Supportive Family/Wife & is Proud Of her & her works as a Public School Teacher Now in Berrien County.
Alan earned a Bachelor Of Science Degree From C.M.U. and has taught 
Biology & Biomass Conversion at J.E.I. He lives in Buchanan Township and is Honored to Work as Caretaker at Camp Madron where his Dad was once a Boy Scout and he works with and is passionate about the Environment, it’s Native Plants, Trees & Community and is always willing to learn & share his knowledge.


Bette Pierman works to protect and value our environment after retiring from careers as a public educator and project manager/technical writer in the private sector.

Her environmental action began with the fight to protect Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, Michigan. That work progressed to involvement with the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s petition drive while at the same time becoming a founding member of Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter (MSEF-SH) which provides public education on the importance of sustainable, renewable energy. It has continued with community cleanup activities on the Paw Paw River and along Ox Creek and with the Alliance for the Great Lakes Beach Cleanup at Jean Klock Park.

Currently, she serves on the board of the Two Rivers Coalition  (TRC), acting chair of MSEF-SH, member of Bangor-South Haven Heritage Water Trail (B/SH HWTA), member of The Friends of the St. Joseph River, member of South West Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC), member of the Chikaming Open Lands (COL), member of Sarett Nature Center, active volunteer with Van Buren Conservation District (VBCD), committee member planning for the Paw Paw River Water Trail, member of the Michigan Sierra Club, and member on an advisory board with an upcoming project on Ox Creek with the South West Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) and TRC. She is also a member of the Michigan Democratic Party Rural Caucus working to educate, protect and preserve the agriculture community for a future generation. She kayaks on area rivers and lakes whenever she has the opportunity and enjoys hikes in many of the Southwest Michigan nature preserves and parks.

Bette’s interest in agriculture began with time spent with her grandfather on his area farm. She currently enjoys providing part-time care throughout the year for two Arabian horses when their owner travels.

Due to the pandemic, USDA service centers have instituted locked door policies. Since the Conservation District is housed in the USDA building we have to follow USDA guidelines. Public access is by appointment only at this time.  Please direct Conservation District inquires to the manager at or call 269-471-9111 x3. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We appreciate your patience during this time.

2017 Berrien County Plat Books are available at our office! Reduced to $24.99

We accept volunteers for programs and fundraisers.


Interested in future workshops and programs?

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Interested in learning about MAEAP Verification?

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Local farmers finding ways to make crops and environment 'greener' by adding Water Control Structures to their drain tile. 

The Berrien Conservation District was very excited to invite WSBT's Danielle Kennedy out to interview Patrick Freehling of Baroda on Water Control Structures and their benefits to crop production and water quality!  Click on the link to view the interview:  (click on the white circle in the center of the corn to start the video after clicking the link)

Update 5/10/19 - Patrick Freehling passed away unexpectedly the morning of May 2, 2019 due to an accident. Our thoughts and prayers have been with his family and friends in this difficult time.