Blue Ridge SWCD Welcomes New Director

In November 2019, Freeda Cathcart was elected as the Blue Ridge SWCD’s newest director, representing the City of Roanoke. In the early 1990’s, Cathcart was the President of the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op. She was one of the Founders of the Left Bank Land Co. in Floyd, Virginia working with the shareholders to create the “Artesia” Land Trust on their property in 1995. Artesia protects the watershed and the old growth forest from being developed for future generations. The property associated with the Left Bank Land Co. supports several successful farm market growers and independent cottage industries. 


Cathcart currently serves on the “League of Women Voters of the Roanoke Valley” and “Points of Diversity” boards. She and her husband of 32 years have four children. She enjoys hiking, kayaking and singing in her church’s choir.

Septic Grant Extended through June 2020

            Funding 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 has been extended through June 30th, 2020. Residents of Henry County, Virginia. Applicants must live in the portion of the Smith River watershed northwest of Martinsville and the Blackberry Creek watershed in Henry County. Residents who live in this area and are experiencing issues with their septic system are encouraged to apply for assistance. Funding rates may 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 or Allen Jackson at 540-352-3312. Inquiries can also be submitted via email at mtabor@brswcd.org or djackson@brswcd.org and during regular office hours (8-4:30 p.m M-F) at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.

Virginia Dominion Energy State Competition T-shirt Contest Criteria

The Virginia Dominion Energy Envirothon is an annual competition where high school students work together as a team of five students to answer questions about natural resources. To showcase the current issue theme of the Envirothon; 9th-12th graders from around Virginia are invited to compete to design the T-shirt that will be worn at the 2020 Virginia Dominion Energy Envirothon State Competition. Students are encouraged to submit a design showcasing the current issue theme- Water Resources Management: Local Control and Local Solutions. The winning entry will be used for the 2020 T-Shirt that teams will wear at the Virginia Dominion Energy Envirothon State Competition. Student entries will be judged by Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts staff. The student with the winning design will receive $50.00 and two of the printed T-Shirts. This contest is open to public, private, or homeschooled students in grades 9-12. Submissions will be judged based on the following criteria:

*Design (cohesiveness of composition), expression (communicative quality), and originality (novel or unique solution).

Design criteria:

* Each design must illustrate either in pictures, words or both the 2020 current issue theme Water Resource Management: Local Control and Local Solutions

*Design is for the front of the T-shirt. The back will be designed by VASWCDEF staff to include the Dominion Energy Logo and Location of the event information.

*Entries should be submitted as a medium resolution JPEG or hard copy no larger than 8.5 x 11. Black and white design, NOT in pencil. The artist might be able to specify an appropriate background (shirt color), however it will depend on colors that are available.

*Only one entry per student. No entries will be returned Remember the winning design will be placed on the front of a T-Shirt. Try to keep this in mind when coming up with your design so it’s not too small or too large. Deadline for Submissions – March 27th, 2020.

Questions-Contact Bonnie Mahl, Education & Training Coordinator at Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation DistrictsBonnie.mahl@vaswcd.org 804-559-0324

Jamison Inducted to Conservation Hall of Fame

Mechanicsville, VA, August 12, 2019.  Daphne Jamison, a recognized leader in conservation for over 35 years, was inducted into the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD’s) Southeast Region Conservation Hall of Fame at a luncheon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Aug. 5th during the NACD Southeast Region Meeting. The Hall of Fame honors distinguished conservationists whose careers have resulted in the wise use of our nations precious natural resources upon which we all depend. Jamison was nominated for the honor by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) for her significant contribution to soil and water conservation.

Daphne W. Jamison

VASWCD President Chip Jones stated that “Someone who practices what he or she preaches is someone that is well-suited to become a great leader, and Daphne is an example of someone who works hard in and out of the workplace, not for fame and recognition but because she wants to and that’s who she is.”

A graduate of Radford College, Daphne spent 33 years teaching science in Roanoke County Public Schools. However, retirement hasn’t slowed down Daphne in the slightest. Daphne has served the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District (BRSWCD) for three decades and has been re-elected repeatedly as a Director. She has worked extensively with the VASWCD and served as President in 2001 and 2002.

Daphne has donated countless hours of energy and expertise towards the promotion of soil and water conservation work on a watershed basis, in addition to securing funds for non-point source pollution programs across Virginia. She was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine to serve on the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board and has worked closely with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). In 2013, she received the Bobby Wilkinson Award, the highest honor a SWCD Director can be awarded. Even in her downtime, Daphne has been an active member in her community, volunteering to monitor water quality for over 30 years alongside Ferrum College and the Smith Mountain Lake Association.

Executive Director Kendall Tyree commented that “Daphne is deserving of more than just this award, because her dedication and enthusiasm for conservation is contagious to everyone she encounters. Her contributions to the advancement of conservation have been impactful across the Commonwealth. We are grateful for her dedication and commitment and are proud to have nominated her for this recognition.”

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The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) is the non-profit organization that represents Virginia’s 47 conservation districts and about 680 men and women who serve on their staffs and governing boards.  For more than 70 years, conservation districts have worked with cooperating land users and local jurisdictions to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices.  For more information about VASWCD, visit: www.vaswcd.org.

Best Management Practice Applications Now Being Accepted For 2019-2020

Best Management Practice Applications Now Being Accepted For 2019-2020 The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District located at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA is currently accepting applications for assistance with installation of agricultural best management practices that are designed to conserve soil and protect water quality. July 1, 2019 began our new fiscal year and agriculture producers who are considering signing up for assistance this year are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Since funding is limited, all practices must be approved prior to implementation and are subject to prioritized ranking for approval. 2019-2020 Cost-Share applications will be accepted July 02, 2019 through close of business on Friday, September 6th 2019. 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 following is a list of some of the practices available for cost share, however, it is not an exhaustive list. • Reforestation of Erodible Crop Land & Pasture Land • Grazing Land Protection (stream exclusion, water fountains, well, pipeline and fencing) • Harvestable Cover Crop • Non-Harvestable Cover Crop • Continuous No-Till • Animal Waste Control Facility • Nutrient management Plan Writing • Split Application of Nitrogen on Corn using Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test • Late Winter Split Application of Nitrogen on Small Grains • Riparian Vegetative or Forested Buffers For more information regarding water quality and erosion control best management practices, please contact Michael Tabor (Senior Conservation Specialist) at (540) 483-5341 ext. 122.

What is NEED?

Elementary & Secondary Info Activities

Over 35 years ago, The NEED Project began as a one-day celebration of energy education when National Energy Education Day was recognized by a Joint Congressional Resolution. In the same year, President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation stressing the need for comprehensive energy education in our schools, a reduction of our dependence of fossil fuels, and increasing use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. Since its founding, NEED has kept its Kids Teaching Kids philosophy as a fundamental principle of NEED programming – encouraging students to explore, experiment, and engage, and encouraging teachers to embrace student leadership in the classroom. NEED trains and assists teachers in harnessing the energy of the classroom – the energy of students. NEED is expanding and evolving to best meet the needs of teachers and students – in the classroom and beyond…   NEED students are the future of the energy workforce. Students interested in engineering, science, economics, environmental sciences, law, geology and a host of other disciplines have a role in the energy industry. We work hard to help teachers meet the requirements of state standards, Common Core, and the Next Generation Science Standards. As states adopt their new standards, NEED will continue working to provide state alignments to our entire curriculum portfolio.  To learn more about NEED visit https://need.org.

2019 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 2019 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