Education & Outreach

For further information about any education programs described, please contact NNSWCD Education Coordinator Kathleen Watson 804.313.9102, ext 105 and

Soil & Water Adventure Mobile

Soil & WAter Adventure MobileSoil … our foundation. It’s not just dirt. The bold exterior of the Northern Neck Soil & Water Conservation District’s Mobile Education Unit beckons visitors to Come In and Discover the World Beneath Your Feet!
  NNSWCD has provided services to the people of the Northern Neck for 74 years, its mission being to promote the stewardship of natural resources through leadership, education, and technical assistance for allresource users. To this end, the District unveiled its newly completed Soil & Water Adventure Mobile, which was developed to  enhance this educational process—to take our message on the road in a new way, to better serve our community.
  The mobile walk-through educational unit and billboard, which is handicap accessible, allows staff to travel anywhere within the community fully equipped with expanded resources to captivate and motivate students, their teachers, and our community at large. The goal is to expose participants to information in a new way, to create a better knowing and understanding of the bigger picture of our natural world—the interconnections, the ecology. This knowledge gives rise to greater involvement.
   In the interior soil “tunnel,” as people physically walk “underground” through the soil exhibit, they are exploring the marvels of the familiar—but largely unknown—world beneath our feet: the wonders and surprises of the world of SOIL and WATER, including GROUNDWATER.
Soil & WAter Adventure Mobile    This exhibit helps bring attention to the significance of soil and the alive world within it—and to all that soil means to us in our daily lives. Technology equipment allows for hands-on exploration outside and then viewing of real-life objects and organisms, to gain the big-picture importance of balance within our ecosystems.
    The interior walls of the walk-through exhibit show the soil layers marked by differences in textures and colors, and also realistically display various creatures that live underground, such as insects, worms, animals, and microscopic organisms. It also illustrates how underground water—groundwater—flows, and invites discussion of its origins.
    Exterior features include the reminder Clean water … our lifeblood, not just H2O with colorful, stylized depictions of the Virginia landscape, from the mountains to the Bay, and a rural home or farmstead, complete with lots of opportunities for talk of best management practices, the small everyday actions that can be taken by everyone for keeping our own natural world healthy and beautiful.

Envirothon is an internationally recognized environmental competition for 9th through 12th graders in Virginia and across the US and Canada.

The Dominion Virginia Envirothon is a natural resources competition for high school students. Students who participate learn stewardship and management concepts and work to solve real and hypothetical environmental problems. The program is field oriented, community based and gives students an opportunity to work with natural resource professionals.

Envirothon began in 1979 and is now the largest nonathletic environmental high school competition that challenges students to put the information that they have learned to solving real-life environmental problems.

Participating teams of five students compete first in a local competition, then may advance to a regional event, with one team from each region advancing to State. The winner from the State competition goes on to the national event, sponsored by Canon, Inc., and others. In a recent year, the Virginia Team won the Canon Envirothon Competition out of 52 teams. Each team member received a $5,000 college scholarship and other prizes.

Participation in Envirothon encourages life skills such as team-building, critical thinking, decision making, problem solving and communications skills. Envirothon involves training and study in five natural resource categories: Soils, Aquatics, Forestry, Wildlife, and a Current Issue. The 2017 Current Issue is Agricultural Soil and Water Conservation Stewardship.

There are some important Envirothon dates for 2017. The Area III Competition will take place on April 26,2017 at Deep Run Park in Henrico County. Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA will host the State Competition on May 21-22, 2017.

If you would like more information on Envirothon, or if you are interested in joining or starting a team in the Northern Neck, please contact Kathleen Watson, Education and Outreach Specialist, at (804) 313-9102 ext. 105.

Soil & Water Conservation Districts Scholarship Awards

Each year the NNSWCD locally promotes the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation (VASWCDEF) Scholarship Awards Program. The Program supports the education of Virginia citizens in technical fields involving natural resource conservation and environmental protection through financial support to students majoring in or showing a strong desire to major in a course curriculum related to natural resource conservation and/or environmental studies. Four (4) $1000 scholarships are awarded throughout the state each year.

Beginning in 2013, the NNSWCD funded its own annual $1000 college scholarship open only to Northern Neck students who are graduating high school seniors or who are enrolled in an undergraduate level program and are majoring in a natural resource conservation and/or environmental studies curriculum.

Dylan RoseIndividual applicants must be full-time students enrolled in any undergraduate level, or who have applied to a college freshman level curriculum. Applicants must reside or attend school in one of the four counties served by the NNSWCD: Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond or Westmoreland. Applicants must document a class ranking in the top 20% of their graduating class, a 3.0 or greater Grade Point Average or appropriate equivalent of individual scholastic achievement.

The 2016 NNSWCD Scholarship was awarded to Dylan Rose of White Stone, VA. Dylan is attending Virginia Tech, where he is in the Honors Program and is majoring in General Biosciences. He plans to work in the conservation field where he can focus on environmental issues.

Youth Conservation Camp

CampersFor the past 38 years, the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) has sponsored a weeklong summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students on the campus of Virginia Tech.

The program brings together some 60-75 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources from conservation professionals and faculty of Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors.

Each year the NNSWCD accepts applications to sponsor two campers to the weeklong session. Applicants must be in grades 9-12 during the academic school year and cannot have previously attended. In 2016 NNSWCD Scholarships sent 2 students, Maeve Collins and Alma Talcott, (pictured) who are both from Richmond County to Youth Conservation Camp.

The 2016 Youth Conservation Camp took place June 10-16 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Each year, the District sponsors two local students to attend the camp. Details about the sponsorship application are posted on the District’s website and in local newspapers. Applications for the sponsorship are due in April of each year. For questions about the 2017 Youth Conservation Camp and the application process, please contact Kathleen Watson at the NNSWCD at (804) 313-9102 extension 105.

Holiday Lake Forestry Camp

In March, the NNSWCD promotes the Holiday Lake Forestry Camp to schools, the public, and partnering agencies by offering to cover the registration fee for two prospective applicants from the Northern Neck area.

Applicants 13-16 years of age are considered after nomination by a teachers, forestry and wildlife professionals, Soil & Water Districts, 4-H and Scout leaders, etc. Prospective campers should have a desire to explore and experience activities in forestry and wildlife-related careers, or have an interest in hands-on activities in resource conservation.

The 2016 Forestry Camp was held June 20-25 at Appomattox Buckingham State Forest. Information about the 2017 camp will be released in the early spring. For additional information on this specialty camp or the application process, pleased contact Kathleen Watson at (804) 313-9102 extension 105.

School Programs

NNSWCD tailors school conservation and environmental education programs to the grade level and the needs of the teachers and students. This spring, the District, in partnership with several partnering organizations and agencies, held a number of outdoor SOL-based programs for Lancaster Middle School (all grades), the Montessori School, Northumberland Middle School, and more. Students participated in activities on soil charatersitics and health; groundwater; seining and macroinvertebrates; oysters for filtering, food, fun; ecosystems; wetlands; pollution; water health and testing; and more.

NNSWCD sponsored a Soil Essay Contest, for Northern Neck middle-school writers: “Tap into the Wonders Beneath Your Feet: Dig Up the Dirt on Soil!” The objective was to have students write essays to creatively promote the wonders of soil and all it offers us in our everyday lives. The first-place winner of that contest, Alexandra Pitman, was a rising eighth-grader at Northumberland Middle School. She and two other Northern Neck middle school students, enjoyed a chaperoned trip the Smithsonian Institution Natural History Museum’s DIG IT!: The Secrets of Soil exhibition in Washington, DC.

The Enviroscape Watershed model--Nonpoint Source--with riparian buffer and groundwater kits demonstrate what constitutes a watershed, types of nonpoint source pollution, and how to prevent such pollution. This educational resource is valuable for preschool through adult audiences.


Future Workshops and Outreach

Please contact the NNSWCD office at 804 313-9102, ext. 101, for information on local workshops.

Northern Neck Soil & Water Conservation District | P.O. Box 220 | 5559 Richmond Road | Warsaw, VA 22572 | 804 313-9102 x 101
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