2018 Stream Side Trees In the Classroom

Streamside Trees in the Classroom (STIC) is an environmental education program that allows students to learn about water quality and the importance of streamside vegetation.  The program was created in 2012 as a partnership between Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at Philpott Lake.  The program serves Martinsville City, Franklin county, Henry County (Magna Vista High School), and Patrick County Public Schools, specifically targeting 4th grade students.  This aligns with the Every Kid in a Park Initiative that USACE also works with.

The program has been funded through grants, but most recently supported through donations. The Army Corps of Engineers covers the cost of the trees.  Therefore, no cost to the schools aside from mileage/bus costs to get to the planting location.

In the STIC program students root native Black Willow cuttings in the classroom for about three to four weeks and then take a field trip to Philpott Lake, or an approved location, and plant the trees along a creek or area that is in need of streamside restoration.  Trees along streams help keep water clean by buffering out pollution like chemicals and litter, and help keep the streams at cooler temperatures during the summer.  The trees also provide habitat for wildlife seeking food or water, and shelter.

The trees are delivered to the classrooms late August or early September and are typically planted in the fall on specific “Planting Days”.  When the trees are delivered to the schools, USACE or DRBA typically provides a 20-30 minute presentation for the students.  And, we usually have five Planting Days for the program – one for Patrick County schools, one for Martinsville City schools, and three for Franklin County schools.

Any materials needed for the program such as cost of trees, jars, and tubs to hold the trees will be covered through donations.  Jars and tubs are used to transport the trees to the designated Planting Day locations and then returned to USACE to be used for the following school year.

Planting Days usually last from 9:45 am – 1:30 pm, but some schools may need to leave early in the afternoon to return to school for dismissal.  We usually have partner organization that are natural resource focused like Reynolds Homestead, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency take part in providing activities and/or educational booths for the students during their Planting Days.  During October 2018 Planting Days, 500 students participated by planting approximately 200 trees.

Reynolds Homestead – https://photos.app.goo.gl/VHs82gNhrLRXRCno9

Booker T Washington – https://photos.app.goo.gl/PtjvRsnAU49yA9Lu6

Martinsville Dick & Willie – https://photos.app.goo.gl/CJmGg4qm4r2Wsrdw7

Salthouse Branch – https://photos.app.goo.gl/2esV2u5yXRxmERF16


Springtime Snow Dance

On behalf of the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Marketing Committee and the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District we would like to Congratulate Sarah Baumgardner on her photo Springtime Snow Dance”as being chosen as Honorable Mentioned in the 2018 VASWCD photo contest. Over 180 photos were submitted for the 2018 contest. “Springtime Snow Dance” was photographed by Sarah Baumgardner within the Mountain Castle SWCD area.


At 8:00 AM Wednesday September 26, voting will begin on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Virginia-Association-of-Soil-Water-Conservation-Districts-VASWCD-184156224952486/, to choose the People’s Choice award.  “Springtime Snow Dance” along with 9 others is in the running for this award so please ask all your friends and family to like our page and vote for your favorite photo!


We encourage you to submit your 2019 winning photo to the National Association of Conservation Districts Photo Contest.  More information about the contest can be found here- /http://www.nacdnet.org/general-resources/stewardship-and-education-materials/contests/  The deadline for submitting photos is Dec. 1st, 2018.



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 www.vaforages.org.

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  www.vaswcd.org/photo-contest-rules 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 (www.vaswcd.org/photo-contest-rules). Photographs that do not meet the criteria will be disqualified.

**Contact Bonnie Mahl at bonnie.mahl@vaswcd.org if you have any questions or concerns regarding photo submission.

“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:  www.dcr.virginia.gov.

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 www.nacdnet.org 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: http://www.nacdnet.org/general-resources/stewardship-and-education-materials/2018-watersheds-water-home/.

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.