Welcome Sam Chappell!

We want to welcome Samuel Chappell as the Blue Ridge SWCD’s new Conservation Technician. He grew up in Franklin County and graduated from Ferrum College in 2021. At Ferrum, Sam joined the Boone Honors Program, Ferrum College Swim Team, and the rock-climbing team. After earning his B.S. in Environmental Science and working as an intern with the SML Water Quality Program, he went on to pursue interests in conservation and public service. Outside of work, he is an avid angler and spends most of my time at Smith Mountain Lake.  Sam is enthusiastic to be a part of the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District and to work with the local farmers and community.

Youth Conservation Leadership Institute:

What is it and how does it work?

Youth Conservation Leadership Institute (YCLI) is a recognition program for students in 9th- 12th grade that focuses on volunteer service and environmental stewardship.  YCLI began as an expansion of Youth Conservation Camp in an effort to keep students engaged in the environmental topics introduced at camp. YCLI offers high school students interested in environmental conservation and stewardship an opportunity to build leadership skills and connect with local mentors involved with environmental issues. 

Students in 9th-12th grade may apply.  Program participants are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service with a conservation focus. The hours may be done as part of a single project or a series of projects but all projects must be approved by the YCLI Program Coordinator.   YCLI participants work with the YCLI Program Coordinator to come up with a project that the YCLI Participant wants to focus on.  The YCLI Participants are paired with a mentor to help them with their project.  Mentors can be Soil & Water Conservation Staff, Natural Resource Professional,  4-H Agent, etc.   

There will be a zoom meeting at the beginning of the program to allow all participants a chance to meet and brainstorm for their projects.

The program will conclude with an awards and recognition ceremony to be held in Spring of 2022.  The recognition program agenda will include time for participants to speak about their work and hear from key speakers in the conservation field.

YCLI is a unique opportunity for 9th-12th graders  to receive experience and engage in networking opportunities to prepare them for future education and career paths.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

 Students in 9th-12th grade  with a strong interest in natural resources conservation and related fields are encouraged to apply.  YCLI is open to homeschool, private and public school students.  Deadline to apply is Monday Oct. 2, 2023.      Please contact Maura.Christian@vaswcd.org if you or your student has interest and would like to discuss. 

Past YCLI Projects Include: 

  • Building birdhouses for Warblers
  • Teaching elementary students about watersheds
  • Developing and Installing Trail Signage
  • Litter Clean Ups
  • Clothing Drive 
  • Education Outreach about being an Intern with the Elizabeth River Project 
  • Conservation Education Outreach to Elementary Students
  • Stormwater Education Outreach 
  • Pollinator Gardens
  • Soil Compaction Education & Outreach to Homeowners 

2023 Happy Earth Day-April 22nd

Happy Earth Day 2023

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection . First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries. Here are a list of resources you can visit to give you some ideas to share and celebrate Earth Day:







2022 Environmental Education Scholarship Opportunity-Apply Now

2022 Environmental Education Scholarship Opportunity-Apply Now

The Blue Ridge SWCD is offering high school seniors and college freshmen (attending school in the areas of 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 up to $1,000 Leo Painter College Scholarship. The award winning application of this scholarship (Leo Painter Scholarship) will be submitted to the 2022 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 or related field, contact Kathy B. Smith (Program Manager/Education Coordinator) at (540) 342-3314 or at KSmith@brswcd.org for a copy of the 2021-2022 Scholarship-Guidelines-Application form. Each qualified student is asked to complete VASWCD Educational Foundation 2021-2022 Scholarship application (http://vaswcd.org/student-scholarships) and submit it to the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151 no later than Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. (close of business). Submitted applications will be reviewed and screened by the Blue Ridge SWCD Scholarship Committee. All applications and information contained therein shall remain confidential. Nominations from the Committee will be submitted to the VASWCD Educational Foundation, Inc., Board of Directors for final approval. 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.  Download the 2021-2022 Scholarship Guidelines and application below:

2023 Conservation Education Teacher of the Year -Nominations are Now Open!

Nominations Open for Elementary & Secondary Educators

Elementary (grades K-5) and secondary (grades 6-12) educators will be recognized in separate categories. All teachers in public, parochial and private schools in Virginia are eligible to participate in the program. For Elementary and Secondary Educators within Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties or the City of Roanoke are eligible to submit an application to the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District (1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151).

Purpose and Eligibility
The purpose of the Teacher of the Year contest is to recognize the outstanding conservation education efforts of Virginia’s teachers.

Click below on the link to access the 2023 Conservation Education Teacher of the Year application.

August 3, 2023Permalink

2023 Help Plan for the Disposal of your Unwanted Pesticides

The Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Pesticide Disposal program is for the disposal of unwanted and outdated pesticides currently stored by agricultural producers, licensed pesticide businesses, certified applicators, golf courses and homeowners.

Agricultural pesticides
Commercial pesticides
Homeowner pesticides
Weed and Feed
Pesticide dilutions
Medical waste
Radioactive waste
Biological waste
Contaminated waste

For more information on dates, etc. click on the links below:

What is the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District?

The Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District (Blue Ridge SWCD) is one of 47 Districts in the Commonwealth of Virginia whose Boards are tasked with implementing Virginia’s Best Management Practice Cost Share Programs to farmers and agriculture producers. Urban property owners in our are can benefit through the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) (https://vaswcd.org/vcap).

The Blue Ridge SWCD was organized under authority of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Law (Senate Bill NO. 38 passed by the 1938 session of the General Assembly) and was formed on September 28, 1939. The Blue Ridge SWCD represents the counties of Franklin, Henry, City of Roanoke and Roanoke County.

The Blue Ridge SWCD has full-time employees who work with area agriculture producers and manage cost share applications and programs. The District also has an elected Board of Directors.

What do Directors do on the Board?

The Blue Ridge SWCD’s Board is elected, voluntary and non-regulatory. Directors promote the voluntary adoption of conservation management practices such as fencing cattle out of the streams, installing animal waste storage facilities, installing riparian buffers and planting cover crops. Land owners who want to receive funding apply, and funding is allocated based on a ranking system.

The District Board also supports a strong education outreach program. In addition to offering education outreach programs in the schools and working with Envirothon. Every year high school Seniors or College Freshmen who are planning careers in natural resources are selected through an application process to receive up to a $1,000 scholarship. the District Board also awards two all-expense paid scholarships for high school students to attend the Youth Conservation Camp at Virginia Tech.

Funding is also available for urban areas through the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP), a voluntary stormwater management cost-share program that provides financial reimbursement for urban property owners installing Best Management Practices (riparian buffers, permeable pavement, rain gardens, rain water harvesting systems, green roofs, etc.).

Why are Directors elected?

In 1937, President Roosevelt asked the governors of each state to recommend legislation to form Soil and Water Conservation Districts in support of the 1935 Congressional Act of declaring soil and water conservation and smart land use a national policy (Public Law 46). The Virginia Legislature responded by passing the Virginia Soil Conservation District Law to provide local citizens the opportunity to shape conservation activities in their own communities.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia 9formed under the authority of Title 21, Code of Virginia, passed by the General Assembly in 1938).

Small Farm Spring Forum

Rotational Grazing and stream exclusion

What type of Farm Operation do you own and/or manage? A. Livestock (cattle, horse, hog, goat, sheep, lama, alpaca, etc.) B. Fruits/Vegetables C. Grains D. Forestry

What type of farmer best describes you? A. Hobby Farmer B. Part-time Farmer C. Full-time Farmer D. Not farming yet but interested.

If you can select an answer from any of the above questions, come join us at the “Small Farm Spring Forum” on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 (9:00 am – 1:30 pm) to talk with natural resource professional and local farmers on how you can be a valuable part in natural resource conservation..

To register by the Friday, April 24, 2023 deadline contact Kathy Smith, Program Manager/Education Coordinator at (540) 352-3314 or at ksmith@brswcd.org.


Blue Ridge SWCD Poster Contest Rules

  • The Conservation Poster Contest is open to kindergarten through twelfth grade students and entered into one of the grade divisions (K-1; 2-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12).
  • Poster size must be within 8.5”x11” (letter-size) to 22”x28” (full-size poster board)
  • Posters must be hand-drawn.  Any media may be used to create a flat poster including: paint, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, stickers, paper, and/or other materials. 
  • All posters must be created by an individual student, rather than a team of students.  Entries must be a contestant’s original creation and may not be traced from photographs or other artist’s published works.
  • The 2023 Stewardship theme “One Water” must be included on the front side of each poster submission to be eligible for the national poster contest.
  • Each entry must be submitted with a completed entry form attached to the back of the poster.  This entry form must be signed by a parent or guardian to be eligible for the contest. 
  • Posters are due to the Blue Ridge SWCD office by Friday, September 15, 2023 by the close of business.  Posters may be mailed or dropped off at the district office. 
  • Although younger students will most likely receive help in planning from parents and/or teachers, Blue Ridge SWCD encourages each student to do their own work.  Note: Entries with student handwriting and coloring will score higher than those designed, drawn and colored by adult assistance. 
  • Posters entered into the national competition must have been judged by the Blue Ridge SWCD sponsored poster contest and the VASWCD sponsored poster contest.
  • The 1st place poster in each category will be submitted to the VASWCD. The winners of the state contest will receive a prize and move on to the NACD Poster Contest. The top three posters (in each category) of the national contest will receive monetary prizes. First place winners will receive $200, second place winners will receive $150 and 3rd place winners will receive $100.  Monetary prizes at the national level are sponsored by the NACD Auxiliary from their quilt project and the Albert I Pierce Foundation.
  • Any Scout who creates a poster and submits to Blue Ridge SWCD to earn the VASWCD Poster Contest Patch must request a patch on the completed entry form submitted with his or her poster.
  • All posters will be returned to participants after the contest(s) are completed.

Poster Evaluations

Poster Contest Entries are reviewed by the Blue Ridge SWCD Scholarship/Youth Committee based on the following criteria:

  • Conservation message (50 percent) (Poster uses correct theme)
  • Visual effectiveness (30 percent)
  • Originality (10 percent) and
  • Universal appeal (10 percent)
March 17, 2022Permalink

Tumbler-style Compost Workshop Schedule

How does your garden grow? Learn how to develop compost that can be used as a soil amendment or as an amendment to grow plants by constructing your own tumbler-style composter. Please bring your own power drill, drill bits (1/4″, 1/2″ and a small drill bit to pre-drill holes for the wood screws) and a Phillips head drill bit for wood screws. Please have the proper transportation to take your completed composter(s) home as one measures 3.5′ deep x 31″ wide x 4.6′ high. It is recommended to bring a friend to assist you with your construction.

The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District will be conducting Tumbler-style Compost Workshop on the following dates at the Essig Center on Technology Drive, Rocky Mount, VA from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm:

July 27, 2023 (Thursday)

August 24, 2023 (Thursday)

For additional information, register on line (one week prior to the scheduled class) at https://www.playfranklincounty.com