Envirothon is an annual academic competition which allows students the opportunity to compete in the five areas of: Forestry, Wildlife, Aquatics, Soils and Current Issues.
Pure Water Forum sponsored the creation of a local Envirothon trunk kit which will be available to Augusta County Area Schools/4-H teams/Homeschoolers.
Until now, Augusta County and 10 other counties had only one Envirothon trunk kit to serve the entire area. There have been many requests for a local trunk of resources specifically for the Augusta County area teams.
The trunk kit includes resources such as field guides, Munsell Soil Chart, scat, prints, pelts, etc.
Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River held a rain barrel workshop in partnership with the Town of New Market and Mike Ritchie on May 23 from 6:30-8:30pm. There were 10 participants who purchased 12 rain barrels. That equals 1,000s more gallons of water saved in the Smith Creek watershed.
Cindy Frenzel, our education coordinator, conducted a presentation about water protection and personal watershed stewardship and followed with an explanation of how to create and install a rain barrel. Mike Ritchie, Director of Public Works for New Market, helped with storage of the rain barrels and also stuck around to help make the barrels.
As usual, everyone had a great time and enjoyed learning about the watershed and teaming up to help one another assemble the barrels. These types of workshops are a key component of our watershed stewardship education and outreach efforts at Friends of the North Fork. These are affordable (thanks to funding from organizations like PWF and Cargill), interesting and environmentally beneficial ways that individuals can make a positive impact on water health in their backyards.
Thank you to Pure Water Forum and to Cargill for helping Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River create another opportunity to protect water health in the Smith Creek and great North Fork Shenandoah River watershed.
Financial breakdown - funding supported a portion of the purchase and pick up of barrels and materials for converting the barrels to rain barrels for the workshop and allowed us to charge a minimal fee of $39 for Friends members and $49 for non-members. We also give a free membership for a year to non-members who attend a workshop like this one.
Peak at the Bay is a series of after school environmental science labs for 4th and 5th grade students interested in the school’s watershed and its connection to the Chesapeake Bay. Students explored the science of our local watershed through hands on STEM activity based labs while working with local environmental professionals and Spotwood High School Environmental Club members to determine the health of our school yard, our neighboring ponds and Cub Run stream.
The program continues in the summer with exploration of the beginning of Cub Run, a canoe trip on the Shenandoah to study environmental impacts and a trip to the bay to take a Chesapeake Bay Foundation program.
For more information about Peak at the Bay, please see this informational flyer.
Reaching out to Landowners in the Valley
One of the most important and valuable roles natural resource agencies provides to citizens of the Commonwealth is technical assistance and advice to forest and farm landowners to help them better manage their property. With 80% of forestland in Virginia under private ownership, it is important that forest landowners are provided with the right tools and information that will help them make better decisions to manage their land for the present, and for the future.
On January 26th, despite a light snowfall, a 4-hour workshop was held at the Virginia Horse Center to provide information to women landowners in the Valley about what sort of services are available to forest and farmland owners. The number of women who own farmland and forestland has been increasing over the years, and this workshop was intended to reach out and introduce them to several different natural resource agencies that provide technical assistance, cost-share assistance, farm loan assistance, and management planning. Topics covered also included the importance of soil and water conservation in agricultural land through the use of cover crops and no-till farming, and ways that excluding livestock from streams and establishing riparian buffers can help improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and improve pasture management as well as herd health. Attendees came from Augusta, Rockbridge, Albemarle, and as far as Richmond. The purpose of the workshop was to provide a comfortable and informal setting where women landowners could learn about all of the resources that are available to help them manage their land. All 9 of the speakers were women who are natural resource professionals as well. This workshop wrapped up a series of similar workshops that were held throughout the state, with this event being one of the most well attended with over 30 participants who enjoyed a buffet “brunch” while networking with other women landowners and women natural resource professionals.
This workshop would not have been a reality without the help and support of several groups. Thank you to the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Farm Service Agency, and Pure Water Forum for providing the brunch, and the notebooks of materials that each attendee took home with them. Thank you to the Natural Bridge Soil and Water Conservation District for help with registration, and to the Virginia Horse Center for hosting the event and preparing the wonderful food. And many thanks to all of the speakers who were willing to give their time to speak to women landowners about conservation, and management planning.
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) and its partners recently hosted the Shenandoah Water Supply Summit at James Madison University’s Festival Conference Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia. With a goal of maximizing water management efforts in the Shenandoah River watershed, the event unveiled the results of extensive planning studies and scientific articles published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Because nearly all Shenandoah Valley localities tap into one ultimate water source, organizers were aiming to build a cohesive regional perspective. Participants were provided with current data, tools to support water resource management decision-making, practical applications and an opportunity to network with region water managers and users, locality representatives, regulators and other stakeholders.
Click here for the full report.