Horse-farm owners are invited to enroll in conservation short course

RICHMOND — A day-long course is being offered this fall to give Virginia horse-farm owners the opportunity to learn about conservation practices that can benefit farming operations and local water quality.

Healthy Land for Healthy Horses: A Short Course on Pasture and Manure Management will be held in four locations across Virginia. The course will cover conservation specific to horse farms. Topics such as soil fertility, grazing management, plant identification and nutrient management will be discussed. Hands-on activities will complement classroom lectures.

The course is $35 per person and includes lunch. Advance registration is required. Online registration is available at

Dates and locations are as follows. Each course covers the same material.

Sept. 25
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Virginia Tech MARE Center
5527 Sullivans Mill Road
Middleburg, VA 20117

9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Virginia Cooperative Extension
3738 Brambleton Ave.
Roanoke, VA 24018

Oct. 11
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Durbin Arena (Albemarle County)
4429 Catterton Road
Free Union, VA 22940

Oct. 30
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Hickory Ruritan Club
2752 S. Battlefield Blvd.
Chesapeake, VA 23322

The course is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council.

Virginia Cooperative Extension to offer Well Water Testing Clinic to residents of Franklin, Henry and Pittsylvania Counties

Do you have a well, spring or cistern? Would you like to learn more about your water quality through affordable, confidential testing and become empowered to make decisions about system maintenance and water treatment!  The goal of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program is to improve the water quality and health of Virginians with private water supplies, including wells, springs and cisterns.  The best part: your water test results are explained in a helpful meeting or one-on-one with your local agents. We work with homeowners in diagnoses and ways of preventing contamination and treating water quality problems before and after problems arise.  It is very important to know the quality of the water your family and animals are consuming, because certain contaminants can have devastating effects on your family and furry friends. The cost per kit is $55 dollars. If you are testing more than one water source, you will need to purchase additional kits.  WHY TEST? Eighty-three percent of those using individual wells in Virginia own their homes, and more than half are still paying their mortgage.  Keeping the water supply safe is essential to protecting these families’ property values. If the water you are consuming comes from a drilled well, spring, or cistern we advise testing because unlike city water which is monitored daily, treated with chemicals for contaminants, and must follow EPA drinking water guidelines your water source does not.  Comparing your results to federal EPA drinking water standards for public water systems will help you determine if water problems are present. While the presence of some contaminants may be hazardous to your health, others may just be a nuisance.  We suggest testing once a year, because then you can closely monitor the quality and quickly make changes.  Every year total coliform bacteria should be tested, because it can cause gastro-intestinal illness.  Color changes in your water or staining on fixtures could be a result of iron and manganese.  Pin hole leaks or blue staining could be a result of pH, copper, or lead.  If you are concerned, about nearby land uses that potentially could cause problems with your water quality the test can help answer those questions too.  This year we will have a Water Model at the program to help explain the where and how wells work and contamination can occur. If you would like to sign up for the clinic and get your water tested for $55 per kit, please call the Franklin County Extension Office at 540-483-5161. Preregistration is required, payment in full is required, and no refunds will be made after checks are deposited.  Click on this link for additional information and registration form.   2018 Well Water Clinic


2018 VASWCD Photo Contest (Deadline: August 15, 2018)

Photo Contest Rules Official Rules of the VASWCD Photo Contest

SUBMIT YOUR IMAGES starting Feb.1,2018

2018 VASWCD Photo Contest Rules



The Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) Photo Contest is open only to legal residents of the United States. Panel Judges (of the VASWCD Photo Contest), as well as immediate family (spouse, partners, siblings, and children) and household members of those judges, are not eligible to enter.

Bee photo:  By Ann Harrell from Roanoke County

Entry Period

The VASWCD Photo Contest begins February 1, 2018 and ends on August 15th, 2018. Entries submitted before or after the entry period will not be eligible. Winners will be announced in September 2018.


What to Enter

The VASWCD is committed to conservation of natural resources through stewardship and education programs and we want to see it through your eyes. For our 2018 Photo Contest, we’d like you to take photos that showcase “Conservation through the seasons.”  Capture those vibrant moments and express what conservation looks like to you throughout the seasons!

All photographs must be taken within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Photographs taken outside the state of Virginia will be disqualified.

Entries should include the following information.

  • Name
  • Age (as of Aug. 15th, 2018)
  • Address
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Photo Title
  • City or County where photo was taken
  • Caption that describes photo and what “Conservation through the seasons” looks like to you (Limit to one paragraph)

By submitting your entry, you (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) agree that the photograph(s) conforms to the guidelines and content restrictions.

By entering, entrants (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) represent and warrant that the photograph(s) that they submit are their own original creations and do not infringe any other person’s or entity’s rights, including trespassing on private land.

Entries must be submitted by the original creator. Photograph(s) created by someone other than you but submitted by you will be disqualified. You must be the sole owner of the copyright of any photograph(s) submitted. Incomplete entries will not be accepted and will be automatically rejected.

To ensure eligibility for the contest, please submit files at least 3 MB at the time of entry. Higher resolution files of at least 300 dpi/ppi will be requested should an entry be preselected to be awarded a prize or an honorable mention. All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (red eye removal, removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.) will be disqualified, which is left to the Panel’s discretion.

Entries may originate in any format — including, but not limited to digital files, digital prints, color transparencies, color prints, or black and white prints — as long as they are submitted electronically in a .JPEG, .jpg, or .png form. Multiple exposures that have been combined to produce a single “High Dynamic Range” image are acceptable.

Previously published material for which non-exclusive rights were granted may be entered as long as you still maintain the right to grant us a license (see “Your Rights” below). You must be able to disclose when and where the photo appeared previously to VASWCD upon request.

If you choose to include people in your submission, you are responsible for obtaining the necessary releases from the individuals depicted, and must be able to provide copies of those releases to VASWCD upon request.  Visit for additional rules and regulations.

You can submit up to 10 images. Only the first 10 images will be considered if more are entered. Please review all Rules and Regulations for submitting images ( Photographs that do not meet the criteria will be disqualified.

**Contact Bonnie Mahl at if you have any questions or concerns regarding photo submission.

2018 NACD/VASWCD Poster Contest for Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties & City of Roanoke (Blue Ridge SWCD)

The 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. Blue Ridge SWCD (serving Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties and the City of Roanoke) will need to submit these poster winners to the VASWCD for consideration by October 19, 2018. Finally, state winners advance to the National Contest. National winners are recognized each year at the NACD Annual Meeting.

The deadline to submit your 2018 NACD/VASWCD post contest entry to the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District (1297 State Street*Rocky Mount*VA*24151 –  (540) 483-5341 ext. 117) is no later than Monday, September 10, 2018 at the close of business (4:30 pm)

Any Girl Scout  or Boy Scout who creates a poster and submits it to their local SWCD for judging can earn the VASWCD Poster Contest Patch.  When submitting a poster to earn the Poster Contest Patch, be sure to check the box on the entry form. For more information about the VASWCD Poster Contest Patch check out our click on the patch or check out our  Scout Patch Program

2018 Contest Theme

Watersheds:Our Water, Our Home

Poster Categories by Grade:

  • K-1st
  • 2nd-3rd
  • 4th-6th
  • 7th-9th
  • 10th-12th

The contest is open to public, private or home school students, girl scout/boy scout troops, etc.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT (official rules, recommended tips for a successful poster, etc. go to

“Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home”

Water is a natural resource that we all need every day.  Less than 1% of the water on Earth is fresh useable water for our daily needs. So, it is important that each of us does our part to keep it clean. Join members of your community when there is a roadside, stream or river clean- up day. Each citizen can take responsibility for keeping our water bodies and our roadways clean.  We would have zero litter if people would take the extra step of disposing of trash properly. Take a look at a parking lot in your community; do you see oil and litter? Where do you think it will go when it rains?  It could be a nearby river or stream. Help educate your community to stop littering and to properly maintain their automobiles. This is just one of the many easy steps you can take to protect the James, Roanoke, Blackwater, Pigg River and Smith River watersheds in Roanoke, Franklin and Henry counties and City of Roanoke. For more tips, visit Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation at:

America’s network of 3,000 conservation districts across the country are working on the ground every day with local farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect our water, soil and air for future generations. Conservation districts have been involved in delivering locally-driven conservation across America for more than 70 years.

The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District has worked on several local projects such as conservation planning for the installation of Grazing Land Management Systems, Long term Vegetative Cover on Cropland, Extension of CREP Watering Systems, Permanent Vegetative Cover on Critical Areas, Continuous High Residue No-Till, Sediment Retention, Havestable and Non-harvestable Cover Crops, Winter Feeding Facilities, Erosion or Water Control Structures, Sod Waterways, Animal Waste Control Facility, Dairy Loafing Lot Management System, Grass Filter Strips, Residential Septic Repair and Replacements for Smith River and Blackberry Creek watersheds, Rain Water Harvesting and Tumbler-Style Compost Workshops, Environmental Education Outreach, Meaningful Watershed Environmental Education, etc.  The Department of Conservation & Recreation and the Virginia Soil & Water Board were responsible for providing funding for the Blue Ridge SWCD to implement these best management practices.

2018 marks the 63rd year of the National Association of Conservation Districts Stewardship Week. Help us celebrate National Soil and Water Stewardship Week— Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home — April 29 through May 6.

Contact Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District or visit for more information. Brought to you by Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District 1297 State Street Rocky Mount, VA  24151 – (540) 483-5341 ext. 117.

For more information about this year’s Stewardship Week theme – Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home – go to NACD’s website:

Click on the links to access NACD 2018 “Watersheds:  Our Water, Our Home” resources:  2018 watershed_poster_2018 2018 Watershed_poster_30x24_HR (2) 2018 Watershed_placemat_13x9_dft1_lr (2) 2018 Watershed Bookmark-NACD 2018_Educators_Guide (2) 2018 Watershed_K-1Booklet_pgs_dft4_lr (2)

Personnel & Budget/Finance Committee Meetings Slated for June

May 24, 2018


The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District has scheduled a Personnel Committee Meeting and a Budget/Finance Committee Meeting which are open to the public:


The Personnel Committee meeting is scheduled to be held in the Conference Room of the Rocky Mount Service Center at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA  24151.

June 8, 2018 (Friday):  Personnel Committee beginning at 10:00 a.m.


The Budget/Finance Committee meeting is scheduled to be held in the Conference Room of the Rocky Mount Service Center at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA  24151.

June 11, 2018 (Monday):  Budget/Finance Committee beginning at 10:00 a.m.


Story Creek Farm Receives Clean Water Farm Award

Pictured left to right: Henry Jamison, Clinton Jamison, and Michael Tabor (Conservation Technician for Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District)

In 1981 Henry Jamison purchased a dairy farm in western Franklin County. Over the next 33 years he would work to improve the farm, adopting techniques that would allow him to grow the business while being a responsible landowner, protecting the environment, and following a basic principal passed down through the generations of his family, that if one was going to do something, be it farming, or anything else it should be done correctly without having to rely on the help or assistance of others. In short, if you weren’t able to do it right, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

By the 1990’s Henry had removed the old Bank Barn and replaced it with a free stall barn and integrated flush system for a more thorough cleaning of the barn more effectively dealing with the waste and providing a cleaner environment for the cattle. Two pits would be set up to receive all waste and with one being higher than the other, act as a solids separator again to better treat the manure. Throughout this time the herd was being increased from about 40 when the farm was purchased in 1981 to around 60. As additional barns were constructed, gutters and downspouts would be installed to collect the roof runoff and collect it in the pit as well to further reduce erosion and any waste runoff.

Around 2007 the farm would move away from conventional tillage to No-Till and adopt the use of cover crops that continue today. In addition travel lanes would be installed allowing for the more efficient movement of cattle between pastures as they were divided for rotational grazing and reducing erosion. Efforts were made that very steep land would be primarily for grass, terraces installed to slow or divert any overland water flow and grass waterways installed and maintained in any crop field where there were noted concentrated flows.

In 2014 the farm would pass from Henry to his nephew Clinton who operates it today with a milk line that varies between the upper 80’s to mid-90’s, over double of the original milk line in 1981. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication that both Henry and Clinton have put into this operation. Today Clinton carries on the family tradition of doing things the right way because that is simply how that are supposed to be done.

Many of the practices started by Henry have been continued or expanded upon by Clinton. This includes excluding the livestock from all surface water, having both grass and wooded riparian buffers, utilizing soil test and plant sampling for more effective nutrient management and seeking out ways to expand the farm, hoping to one day have all the heifers over one year completely on pasture.

All of these conservation practices have been implemented not as a result of mandate but as a true voluntary effort on the part of Henry and Clinton because it was just the right thing to do. It wasn’t because they would receive cost share or a helping hand, but because they believed as a farmer they were beholden to the land and to their community. For them taking care of the environment and being an active participant in conservation is as much a part of farming as is feeding cattle, mowing hay, and planting crops.



Residential Septic Grant Funding Available for Upper Smith River & Blackberry Creek Watersheds in Henry County


We’ll pay 50% of your septic repair bill!

Pump outs, repairs, replacements

**Grant funding available for residents of the Upper Smith River and Blackberry Creek Watersheds in Henry County. **

Financial assistance available to all income levels.

How the program works:

  • Contact us for an application and to determine if you qualify
  • Wait to perform any work on your system until your application has been approved

Funding available until June 30, 2019

Contact Michael Tabor:

(276) 632-3164 ext. 122

Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District

1297 State St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151

Located in the USDA Service Center beside the Comfort Inn.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the U.S. EPA and the VA Dept. of Environmental Quality under a Section 319 grant agreement 16545 to Blue Ridge SWCD. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or DEQ, nor does the EPA or DEQ endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

Franklin County High School’s Envirothon Team Advances to State Competition

Pictured left to right: Madison Burnette, Autumn Young, Jason Tyree, Tyler Jordan and Hunter Brown

Three Area V Dominion Envirothon (natural resources competition) teams will advance to the state competition May 20-21 at Ferrum College. The Area V Dominion Envirothon competition was held on April 24, 2018 at Waid Recreation Area & Sports Complex in Rocky Mount and hosted by Blue Ride and Patrick Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

Overall first place at the Area V Envirothon competition went to Fuqua School (sponsored by Piedmont SWCD), placing second overall was Franklin County High School (sponsored by Blue Ridge SWCD) and overall third place went to Buckingham County High School (sponsored by Peter Francisco SWCD). Cumberland County High School also participating in the Area V Envirothon (sponsored by Peter Francisco SWCD).

Envirothon features five “in-the-field” test stations – soils, wildlife, aquatics, forestry and a current environmental issue – where teams answer questions in both written and hands-on formats. During an oral presentation each team proposes a management solution related to the current environmental issue to a panel of

Judges consisting of industry and natural resource professionals. This year’s issue is “Pastureland Management”. Franklin County High School and Fuqua School’s Dominion Envirothon Teams tied for 1st place overall in Soils.  Franklin County High School placed 2nd in Oral Presentation and placed 2nd Overall in the top three teams to advance to Virginia’s Dominion Envirothon State Competition at Ferrum College. Fuqua School placed 1st overall to advance to the state competition.


“The intense study required for this contest helps prepare students for college entrance exams, as well as possible careers in field associated with natural resources,” said Steven Meeks, President of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Fueled by Dominion Energy’s generous sponsorship, the Envirothon program will undoubtedly continue to grow. Cindy Balderson, Philanthropy Manager for Dominion Energy and The Dominion Foundation shared the excitement of the new partnership stating,   “We believe the students’ participation in Envirothon activities will prepare them for college and beyond, as they study environmental issues and become advocates and stewards of our natural resources.

The team that earns 1st place at the state level competition will travel to Pocatello, Idaho to battle it out at the North American competition (July 22-July 26, 2018).

Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District (serving Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties and the City of Roanoke) needs help sponsoring students for next year’s Envirothon. If you can help, or would like to know more about starting an Envirothon team at your high school through 4-H, FFA, Ecology Club or home school group, contact Kathy Smith at (540) 483-5341 ext. 117 or (276) 632-3164 ext. 117 or contact the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts at (800) 727-6354.



Blue Ridge SWCD Offers Financial Assistance for Septic Repairs

Have you thought about your septic system lately? For most people septic systems are “out of sight and out of mind.” They may go years without worrying about the system until there is a problem. Although septic systems can be easy to overlook, maintaining it is an important part of being a homeowner. Routine maintenance can prevent problems before they occur, avoiding future repairs or system replacements that can be very costly. However, no septic system is designed to last forever and signs of a failing septic system can include sewage backups into a home, and lush green vegetation over areas of the drain field or other buried system components that may have a bad smell and be mushy.  In Henry County there are many older homes not connected to a public sewer that may be in need of septic repair or complete replacement.

Funding is available through the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District to reimburse homeowners for 50% of the costs of septic system pump-outs, public sewer hook-ups (where available), repairs, and replacements. In addition, the program also educates residents about proper septic system care and about the environmental and health impacts of failing septic systems. Applicants must live in the portion of the Smith River watershed northwest of Martinsville and the Blackberry Creek watershed in Henry County to be eligible. Funding rates may also be eligible to be increased in lower income situations.

To learn more about our septic program, determine if you live in an eligible watershed, or request an application, please contact Michael Tabor at (276) 632-3164 ext. 122 or Allen Jackson at ext.118. Inquiries can also be submitted via email at or and also during regular office hours (8-4:30 p.m M-F) at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the U.S. EPA and the VA Dept. of Environmental Quality under a Section 319 grant agreement 16545 to Blue Ridge SWCD.

The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or DEQ, nor does the EPA or DEQ endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

2018 Blue Ridge SWCD College Scholarship Opportunity- Apply Now!

The Blue Ridge SWCD is offering high school seniors and college freshmen (residing in Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties and the City of Roanoke) who are planning a career in natural resource conservation or a related field the opportunity to apply for the Leo Painter College Scholarship up to $1,000.00.

The award winning application of this local scholarship (Leo Painter Scholarship) will be submitted to the 2018 VASWCD Educational Foundation, Inc. Scholarship Awards Program for an opportunity to be awarded an additional $1,000 scholarship out of the a total of four $1,000 scholarships available state wide (through the VASWCD Educational Foundation, Inc.).

To apply for this college scholarship opportunity, promoting the education of Virginia citizens in technical fields with natural resource conservation and environmental protection, contact Kathy B. Smith (Program Manager/Education Coordinator) at (540) 483-5341 ext. 117 or at for a copy of the 2018 Scholarship-Guidelines-Application form or click on this linik to access the 2018 Scholarship Guidelines and application 2018 Scholarship-Guidelines-Application-2018. Each qualified student is asked to complete 2018 Scholarship application and submit it to the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA  24151 no later than Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at the close of business.

2018 Prospective scholarship candidates – Individual applicants must be full-time college freshmen or students  who have applied to a college freshman level curriculum. Applicants shall document a class ranking in the top 20% of his or her graduating class or a 3.0 or greater Grade Point Average or appropriate equivalent of individual scholastic achievement.  The applicant’s most recent official high school transcript must accompany the application. A copy of a school transcript will not be accepted.  Applicants shall demonstrate active interest in conservation.

Applicants who were high school seniors in 2017 to apply again in 2018 as scholarship guidelines allow those “enrolled in a freshman college curriculum or applying to a college freshmen level curriculum” to be considered.

 Submitted applications will be reviewed and screened by the Blue Ridge SWCD Scholarship Committee.  All applications and information contained therein shall remain confidential. 

All programs and services of the Blue Ridge SWCD and the Virginia Association of Soil & Water conservation District’s Educational Foundation, Inc. are offered on a nondiscriminatory basis, without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, marital status, or disability.  All submitted paperwork is confidential and becomes the property of the VASWCDEF Inc.