Blue Ridge SWCD Poster Contest Winners

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. The 2020 Poster Contest theme was “Where Would We Bee Without Pollinators”?

Alexander Gabriel Rhodes 1st place in the K-1 grade category
Silas Gibson 1st place in 2-3 grade category
Eden Joseph Rhodes 1st place in the 4-6 grade category

CONGRATULATIONS to Alexander, Silas and Eden winners of the 2020 Blue Ridge SWCD Poster Contest! Your posters have been sent to the Virginia Association of Conservation Districts to be judged on the state level. The winners in the state level will be announced in the near future.

Blue Ridge SWCD 2020 Poster Contest Entries

Theme: “Where Would We Bee Without Pollinators”?

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 contact the VASWCD (www.vaswcd.org). District winners advance to the state level. Only Local Soil & Water Conservation Districts can 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 16, 2020. Virginia state winners will advance to the National Contest. National winners are recognized each year at the NACD Annual Meeting.

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.  Please note that poster patches are distributed in December each year. For more information about the VASWCD Poster Contest Scout Patch visit vaswcd.org.

Winners in each category on the district level will be announced after October 10, 2020.

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.

Category K-1

Cydney C. – Kindergarten
Alexander R. – 1st Grade
Paytin F. – 1st Grade
Madison M. – 1st Grade

Category: 2-3 Grade

Silas G. – 2nd Grade
Tyler F. – 2nd Grade
Mykah C. – 2nd Grade
Brooklyn C. – 2nd Grade
Priya F. – 2nd Grade
Steven R. – 3rd Grade
David D. – 3rd Grade
Orin R. – 3rd Grade
Ahkir A. – 3rd Grade
Spencer H. – 3rd Grade

Category: 4-6 Grade

Langston V. – 4th Grade
Aziza W. – 4th Grade
Navi R. -4th Grade
Cayleigh H. -5th Grade
Hijia F. – 5th Grade
Malachi B. – 5th Grade
Eden R. – 6th Grade
Isaac R. – 6th Grade

Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP)

VCAP offers a wide variety of practices that can help individual homeowners and other groups control stormwater, improve water quality, and beautify their property, all the while reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients that make it into Virginia’s waterways. There is a wealth of information available at http://vaswcd.org/vcap, including overviews of each practice, project photos, and more technical information.

Rain Garden installation at Graves Mountain Lodge

Best Management Practice Applications Now Being Accepted for 2020-2021

The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District, located at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA, 24151, is now accepting application for the Program Year 2021 Virginia Agricultural Cost Share (VACS) program.  This program offers conservation practices to farmers that include planting winter cover crops on cropland, ways to manage and store animal waste, plans for use of nutrients, exclusion of livestock from streams, install watering systems and rotational grazing, plant trees to convert crop and pastureland to forest, plus several other practices.  These practices are incentivized and can pay up to 100% paid by a reimbursement.  To qualify, land must be currently in agricultural production with a water quality concern present.  For more information, please call the Blue Ridge SWCD at 540-352-3312 and ask for Michael Tabor or Allen Jackson. Our early sign-up deadline is September 4, 2020 and new practices will be ranked and approved no earlier than the September 28th Blue Ridge SWCD Board Meeting.  Programs offered through Blue Ridge SWCD are available to all people regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or political affiliation.

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.

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.

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