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Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Pesticide Disposal program is for the disposal of unwanted and outdated pesticides currently stored by agricultural producers, licensed pesticide businesses, certified applicators, golf courses and homeowners.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

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.

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.

Rain Barrel Workshop Schedule

If you would like to harvest rain water for your garden and landscaping needs then this is an opportunity for you to construct our very own rain barrel. This old idea is making a big splash! Please have the proper transportation to take the barrel(s) home as they are approximately 53 gallons measuring 42″ in height and 24″ in diameter.

The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District will be conducting Rain Barrel Workshops on the following dates at the Essig Center on Technology Drive Rocky Mount, VA from 5:30 pm-7:30 pm:

August 10, 2023 (Thursday)

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

National Invasive Species Awareness Week: February 27- March 3, 2023

February 27- March 3, 2023 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW)

National Invasive Species Awareness Week is observed on the last Monday in February and lasts for a week. This year, it takes place from February 27 to March 3. The commemoration aims to shed light on the recognized impacts, prevention measures, and invasive species control. It also celebrates individuals and organizations creating a sustainable, biodiverse ecosystem.
There are events held across the globe during this observance to create awareness of the dangers of invasive species. National Invasive Species Awareness Week is an endeavor of the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) in conjunction with agencies and organizations at the federal, state, and local levels.

2023 VASWCD Photo Contest is Open!


The 2023 VASWCD Photo Contest is now open!

The VASWCD is committed to conservation of natural resources through stewardship and education programs, and we want to see it through your eyes! The theme this year is “Conservation: Small Actions, Big Impact”. Capture those vibrant moments and express what conservation looks like through your lens. All photographs must be taken within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Photos can be submitted online here: https://forms.gle/7JW8Rwo5ijK7CX4j6. Visit our website to learn more and see past winners.

The contest is open from January – August 1, 2023. You can submit up to 10 photos. Please submit one form for each photograph. For a full list of official rules click here: https://vaswcd.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Photo-Contest-Rules-2023.docx 

2022 VASWCD Photo Contest Winners 

Congratulations to Amanda Dorton from Buchanan County, located in the Big Sandy Soil & Water Conservation District! Amanda took the below Overall Winning Photo that was submitted in our 2022 Photo Contest “Conservation Moments”. This photo is titled “Southern Gap Mama and Little One” 


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.

Entry Period

The VASWCD Photo Contest begins January 2023 and ends on August 1, 2023. Entries submitted before or after the entry period will not be eligible. Winners will be announced September 2023.

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 2023 Photo Contest, we’d like you to take photos that showcase “Conservation Big & Small”. Capture those vibrant moments and express what conservation looks like to you!

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 August 1, 2023)
  • Address
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Photo Title
  • City or County where photo was taken
  • Optional Caption that describes photo and answers (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; 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 — so 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.

The following submissions are ineligible:

  • Images of captive animals photographed in zoos and commercial game farms.
  • Photos that violate or infringe upon another person’s rights, including but not limited to copyright.
  • Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent, or other objectionable or inappropriate content.
  • Images that involve the willful harassment of wildlife, or damage to the environment by the photographer or photo subjects.
  • Images that involve putting any individual or animal in danger.
  • Images taken more than three years prior to the beginning date of the Contest (January, 2023).

The VASWCD shall determine entry eligibility in its sole and absolute discretion.

How to Enter

You may enter up to ten (10) images during the entry period, however only one winning photo per person. The VASWCD reserves the right to reject any additional entries or entries that do not comply with these Official Rules. By entering, you indicate your unconditional agreement to, and acceptance of, these Official Rules and VASWCD’s decisions, which are final and binding. You cannot win a prize unless you comply with all requirements in these Official Rules.

Entrants may be asked to supplement their submission (such as with a paragraph about their photo or the highest resolution version of their photo).


Photos will be judged on originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact, artistic merit and subject matter relevance to conservation, except that the People’s Choice award will be determined based on which of the honorable mentions receives the most votes. Judging will be conducted by a panel of VASWCD and or SWCD employees/officials (the “Panel”). The Panel will evaluate all valid entries and pick winners in the following categories:


  1. Overall Winner (1 winner): Illustrates how people interact with their environment and care for the natural resources around them.
  2. People’s Choice (1 winner): Overall winner selected from among the 10 honorable mentions based on the highest number of votes received during public voting to be held on the VASWCD Facebook page in August 2023.
  3. Young Photographer (1 winner): Best vibrant moment of conservation, taken by a photographer under 18 years of age.

The honorable mentions will be notified and will appear on the VASWCD website. At that time, the public can vote for one People’s Choice winner from the honorable mentions. All potential winners will be revealed online by September 30, 2023.

All judging decisions are final. Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging. The VASWCD will notify the winner via the contact information provided at the time of entry.


No alteration or manipulation of photographs is permitted except for standard optimization (red eye removal, removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.). However, photographic techniques such as HDR, light-painting and long exposures are allowed. Photographs with watermarks, writing or symbols of any kind will be rejected.

Photograph(s) depicting anything that does not adhere to the rules of the VASWCD Photo Contest, contain unsafe acts, present resource or public use management concerns or photographs that are inappropriate, indecent or obscene, as determined by VASWCD in their sole discretion, shall be disqualified.

Potential Winner Requirements

Except where prohibited, a potential winner may be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility, including proof of age, and liability/publicity release within 14 days. If a potential winner is a minor, his/her parent or legal guardian will be required to sign the documents on his/her behalf. If a potential winner fails to return these documents on time, an alternate potential winner may be selected in his/her place.


Prizes will be determined by the VASWCD. A prize may not be transferred and must be accepted as awarded. A winner may not request cash or a substitute prize.

Your Rights

You will retain all rights to any photograph you submit — including joint ownership with the VASWCD and participating districts.

If you submit a photograph to enter the Photo Contest, you grant the VASWCD a royalty-free, nonexclusive right during the Photo Contest and in perpetuity to:

  • Display the photograph on the Photo Contest submission website
  • Allow third-parties to share the photograph on the following social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and district websites.
  • Use the photograph on the Internet and in Social Media in support of our mission.
  • Use the photograph in the VASWCD’s internal and external communications materials including but not limited to web sites and web publications, fact sheets, fund raising publications, advertising, multimedia, presentation, annual report and VASWCD District Directory.
  • Provide your photograph to other individuals and organizations for VASWCD- related use in news stories, newsletters, reports, slide shows, displays, web pages, videos, and the like.
  • Use, in connection with the Photo Contest, your name, city, and state of residence in promotions and other publications.

o  Retain a digital copy of your photograph that will be archived in the VASWCD photo library and accessible to VASWCD & SWCD staff. The VASWCD will endeavor to credit all photographs with the caption “Person’s Name” when the full name is available.

By entering, entrants (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) grant a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to the VASWCD to edit, adapt, make derivative works from, broadcast, publish and otherwise use any or all of the descriptions and/or photograph(s) submitted, and may use them for advertising, promotional and/or any other purpose in any and all media now or hereafter devised worldwide in perpetuity without additional compensation, notification or permission, unless prohibited by law. By entering this Contest, entrants (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) agree to have their submitted photograph(s) used and displayed, either singularly or in combination with others and in any size, on the official VASWCD website and social media platforms and on the websites, social media, and print materials of the VASWCD as well as their SWCDs without any fee or other form of compensation due at any time for so long as desired by the VASWCD. Credits, descriptions or titles, if any, used with the photograph(s) are in the VASWCD’s sole discretion. In the event that ownership of any photograph(s) submitted is challenged in any manner by any person, the VASWCD may disqualify that photograph(s) and will discontinue use of the photograph(s).

General Conditions

In the event that the operation, security, or administration of the Photo Contest is impaired in any way, VASWCD may, in its sole discretion, either: (a) suspend the Photo Contest to address the impairment and then resume the Photo Contest; or (b) award the prize(s) from among the eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment.

VASWCD reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify and seek damages from any individual who tampers with the operation of the Photo Contest, violates these Official Rules, or acts in a disruptive or unsportsmanlike manner. VASWCD’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. Proof of sending any communication to VASWCD by mail shall not be deemed proof of receipt of that communication by VASWCD. In the event of a dispute as to the owner of an online entry, the authorized account holder of the e-mail address used to enter will be deemed to be the owner. The Photo Contest is subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited.

Release and Limitations of Liability

By entering, you (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) agree to release and hold harmless VASWCD, Facebook, their respective parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, and SWCD agents (the “Released Parties”) from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Photo Contest or receipt or use of any prize, including, but not limited to: (a) unauthorized human intervention in the Photo Contest; (b) technical errors; (c) printing errors; (d) late or undelivered mail; (e) errors in the administration of the Photo Contest; or (f) injury or damage to persons or property. You waive the right to claim any attorney’s fees and any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages.

Privacy and Publicity

Any information you submit as part of the Photo Contest will be used in accordance with VASWCD’s Privacy Policy. The information you provide when you enter is provided to the VASWCD. Except where prohibited, you consent to VASWCD’s use of your name in any list of winners (if applicable) and for promotional purposes in any media without further payment or consideration.


You agree that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Photo Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in Virginia. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, your rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the VASWCD in connection with the Photo Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of Virginia, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of Virginia or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than Virginia.


Please contact the VASWCD.