2015 Poster Contest

2015 PollinatorsThe annual Conservation Poster Contest provides kindergarten through twelfth grade students an opportunity to convey their thoughts about soil, water and related natural resource issues through art. It also highlights the educational outreach efforts of conservation districts and their state conservation associations, auxiliaries and agencies. The poster contest theme follows the annual NACD Stewardship theme.
Each year, the poster contest starts at the district level. Individuals and teachers with questions regarding district contests should contact their local district. To locate your local district search our online SWCD Directory or contact the VASWCD. District winners advance to the state level. Local SWCDs should forward their local winning poster entries to the VASWCD office for consideration at the state level. Local SWCDs need to submit these poster winners to the VASWCD for consideration by October 23, 2015. Finally, state winners advance to the National Contest. National winners are recognized each year at the NACD Annual Meeting.
2015 Contest Theme
Local Heroes-Your Hardworking Pollinators
Poster Categories by Grade:
 K-1
 2-3
 4-6
 7-9
 10-12
The contest is open to public, private or home school students, girl scout/boy scout troops, etc.
For additional information such as rules and resources, district organizers, prizes etc. visit the following sites: http://www.vaswcd.org/poster-contest and/or http://www.nacdnet.ag/eduction/contests/local-and-state2015. 2015-Pollinator_Resources_NACD1 and 2015_NACD_Poster_Contest_Rules

Fall Rain Barrel & Tumbler-Style Compost Workshop Schedule

BRSWCD Rain Barrel 1

Join us for a “barrel of fun” by participating in one of our 2014 fall season Rain Barrel or Tumbler-style Compost Workshops.  Register today through the Franklin County Parks and Recreation Department. Click on the 2014 FCP & R September-December magazine for our fall lineup2012 Compost Workshop Training Team.

2014 FCP & R September-December Magazine

Blue Ridge SWCD Educates Youth at FC Ag Fair!

Blue Ridge SWCD Educates Youth at FC Ag Fair!

The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District was one of many educational outreach exhibits at the 2014 Franklin County Agriculture Fair, which featured “Dig Deeper: Mysteries in the Soil”. Within a three day span (September 10-12), all of Franklin County’s first, third and fifth grades (1,600 students) along with their teachers and volunteers came out to listen, learn and laugh.

At the district booth, root boxes were displayed to show the importance of deep rooted plants such as field rye and annual rye and the role they play in cover crops and no till planting, unlocking the mystery of reducing soil erosion rates.

As the worms (“red wigglers”) passed by, students had the option of touching them.  They had to be quick at touching them before the worms rapidly headed downward into the rich soil. Severalstudents expressed their “taste” for worms as “yuk”, others said, “way cool”. Once the students were instructed on the many important ways worms enrich and benefit the soil, another soil mystery was solved.


Digging deeper into our soil lesson, the students were taught how the soil benefits from composting such as:  Adds vigor to your lawn and garden, retains moisture, resists drought, helps loosen heavy clay soils, increases living organisms, adds nutrients and conditions, and keeps methane-producing organic materials out of landfills. They also became aware that since cows are herbivores, cow manure makes an outstanding fertilizer that can be composted as well.

For the grand finale’, students lined up in two rows facing a tumbler-style composter for a chance to toss the birdseed felt “cow pie” into the mouth of the composter.  Many students tossed a hole in one and all were eager to try their hand again at composting another “cow pie”.

During each outreach session, the teachers and volunteers with each group were invited to participate in a drawing by completing an entry ticket from the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District for a chance to win a fully constructed Rain Barrel.  The drawing took place on September 22, 2014 at the Blue Ridge SWCD’s monthly board meeting.  Out of a total of 137 entries, the district’s 2014 Youth Conservation Camper, Elizabeth Williams, drew out the winning entry ticket.  Cynthia Miller, a first grade teacher at Windy Gap Elementary School was the lucky winner of the Rain Barrel prize (worth $50).  Mrs. Miller has been teaching at this elementary school for the past five years. Over the past few years her interest in conserving natural resources has grown. According to Mrs. Miller, “I realize the importance of using what comes from the earth and utilizing it to its’ full capacity by reducing, reusing and recycling our natural resources.”  Congratulations, Mrs. Miller and a special “thank you” to all of the teachers and volunteers who participated in this special drawing! (Pictured above is Cynthia Miller, winner of the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District’s “Rain Barrel” drawing).

BMP Applications Now Being Accepted for 2014-2015

P.W.The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation district is currently accepting applications for assistance with installation of agricultural best management practices (BMP) that are designed to conserve soil and protect water quality.

The new fiscal year began July1, 2014, and agriculture producers who are considering signing up for assistance this year are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. All practices must be approved prior to implementation and are subject to prioritized ranking for approval.

Cover Crop applications must be submitted no later than Friday, August 29th.

Many of the eligible conservation practices can be combined with other conservation programs offered by USDA. If cost-share is still available after this first sign up round, a second sign-up round of cost-share may be offered at a later date. The 2014-2015 Agriculture cost-share allocation has been revised to include 100 percent cost-share for Grazing Land Protection (SL-6); however, note below is not a comprehensive listing of available practices:

Reforestation of Erodible Crop & Pasture: (FR-1)
Grazing Land Management (SL-9)
Grazing Land Protection (SL-6): stream exclusion, water fountains, well, pipeline and fencing
Harvestable Cover Crop (SL-8H): $20/acre and requires a Nutrient Management Plan
Non-Harvestable Cover Crop (SL-8B): $15-$48/acre and requires a Nutrient Management Plan
Continuous No-Till: (SL-15A, SL-15B & CCI-CNT)
Nutrient Management (certain practices): NM-3C, NM-4 & NM-1A
Riparian Vegetative Buffers: (FR-3, WQ-1 & SL-7)

For more information regarding water quality and erosion control best management practices, please contact P.W. Morgan (Senior Conservation Specialist) at (540) 483-5341 ext. 115.

Agricultural Fair is Coming to Town!

The Franklin County Agricultural Fair will officially return September 10-13, 2014 at the Franklin County Recreation Park, 2150 Sontag Road in Rocky Mount.  The family friendly event will include midway rides provided Brinkley Entertainment, Inc., a livestock show, student SkillsUSA competitions, live entertainment, food and merchandise vendors, and much more. Contact: www.visitfranklincountyva.org or at info@visitfranklincountyva.org.


FC Ag Fair Logo

Spring Has Sprung! Check out the District’s Newsletter

With spring finally upon us, the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District has been busy bringing you updates.  Check out our 2014-Spring Newsletter featuring “Awards & Recognitions”, 2013 Blue Ridge SWCD Clean Water Award recipient, new NRCS District Conservationist, Sustainable Ag Tour, Rain Barrel & Tumbler-style Compost Workshops and more…2014 New Dawn Acres Farm-Summer Pate

Get the Scoop: Learn Why Composting is Beneficial

Compost Picture 2Why Compost? What is Compost?  How to Compost?  What are “Greens” and “Browns”?  What should be composted and what should not be composted?  What factors affect compost rate?   What is compost used for anyway?   Each barrel holds approximately 53 gallons, 42 inches in height and 24 inches in diameter. Click here  2014 Compost Workshops-VCE for Feb-May to register for one of our Tumbler-Style Compost Workshops. Those that pre-register one week in advance of desired workshop date (including payment of $90) will be eligible to attend a Tumbler-style Compost Workshop on a first-come-first serve basis. Class size:  minimum is 3 and maximum is 6 registered participants. At the end of this workshop you will have constructed your very own Tumbler-style Composter (Make, Take & Turn).

Items to bring to make your Tumbler-Style Compost Workshop experience more convenient:  Power Drill, Drill bits to drill pilot & air holes:  3/32”, ¼”, ½”, & 1”, Phillips head drill bit for wood screws, 7/16” wrench, measuring tape, transportation to haul finished product (3.5’ L x 31” W x 4.6’ H) and minimal skill and plenty of patience!








Spring Into Action & Attend A Rain Barrel Workshop!

Rain Barrel PictureCombining the use of rain barrels with appropriate plant selection and mulching promotes water conservation.  Rain barrels benefit your home, garden and community. Each barrel holds approximately 53 gallons, 42 inches in height and 24 inches in diameter.  Click here 2014 Rain Barrel Flyer Workshop Schedule-Feb to May to register for one of our Rain Barrel Workshops. Those that pre-register one week in advance of desired workshop date (including payment of $50) will be eligible to attend a Rain Barrel Workshop on a first-come-first serve basis.

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!

Smokey The Bear

No Burning Before 4 p.m. Until April 30

The Commonwealth’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect Feb. 15th – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30th if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brush-land or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

“This law is one of the most effective tools we have to prevent wildfires,” said John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become ‘forest fuels’ that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and burning between 4 p.m. and midnight only, people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia.”

In addition to open burning, debris burning in metal barrels has been the source of wild-land fires this year.

“If flames and sparks are flying out of the barrel, that increases the chance they’ll land in dry grass or leaves and start a wild fire,” said Paul Reier, VDOF technician in James City, Charles City and New Kent counties. “Be sure the barrel is secure and won’t tip over, causing the fire to spill out. Stay with the debris barrel while the fire is burning, and be sure to properly and safely dispose of the ashes.” Reier adds that metal barrels should be in good condition – not weak with rust or full of holes. A mesh wire screen, with openings of ¼” or less, should cover the top of the barrel.

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit dof.virginia.gov.

2014 Youth Conservation Camp at VA Tech-Apply Now!

YCC Group PictureAre you searching for a week of adventures such as hiking to the Cascades Waterfall, Fisheries Management, scavenger hunting using GIS technology, canoeing, volleyball, etc. this summer?  Look no further, the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District is accepting applications to attend the 2014 Youth Conservation Camp at Virginia Tech this summer from July 13-19. At least one full scholarship (valued at $550) to cover the registration fee will be made available from the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District from a qualified applicant residing in the Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties or City of Roanoke area.  Applicants must be currently enrolled in grades 9-12 during the 2013-2014 academic school year.  Twelfth graders who graduate in May, June, July or August 2014 are eligible to attend.  Previous campers may not attend.
For 38 years, the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students on the campus of Virginia Tech. The program brings together about 70 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia’s natural resources from conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors.
To apply for 2014 Youth Conservation Camp, click on the 2014 Camp Application & Highlights icon below or contact Kathy B. Smith (Program Manager/Education Coordinator) at (540) 483-5341 ext. 117.  Mail completed application to:  Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District, 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA  24151. The 2014 Youth Conservation Camp Application deadline for the Blue Ridge SWCD is April 17, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. 2014 Camp Application & Highlights
 Find your Local Soil & Water Conservation District here.
Youth Conservation Camp is open to all Virginia students enrolled in High School for the current year.  See camp pictures and testimonials from students on the VASWCD Facebook page. Contact your local Soil & Water Conservation District or Beth Sokolik at elizabeth.sokolik@vaswcd.org with questions or for additional camp information.
Youth Conservation Camp Pictures from prior years can be found on the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Facebook page.  ‘Like’ our page for photos and updates!