Planting the seeds of conservation

Planting the seeds of conservation

In our little world here at the Holmes Soil & Conservation District, there’s no better month than September. It begins with the soaring culmination of months of work as the annual cover crop fly-on takes place just after Labor Day. And while we all love to watch the aerial acrobats sow the literal seeds of conservation over standing soybean and corn, the favorite event of the year for every member of our staff typically comes just a few weeks later as we collaborate with area farming families to host our annual Tom Graham 5th-Grade Conservation Farm Tour.

For over 50 years the tour has been instrumental in planting the metaphorical seeds of conservation in the minds of nearly every fifth-grader in Holmes County. During the past five or 10 years, we’ve been seeing our third generation of students, and darn near every person between the age of 12 and 60 who attended public school in Holmes County has a memory to share of the 5th-Grade Farm Tour.

This year, with concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic looming large over gatherings of every sort, we faced a dilemma: Do we cancel the event entirely for 2020 or do we postpone, trusting the situation will brighten by springtime and allow us to inspire this year’s class of fifth-graders? We chose the latter and are holding out hope (against admittedly long odds) that we’ll be able host the tour this coming spring. Late is better than never, especially if you’re talking about one of your favorite things.

In the meantime we’ll continue to do our best at educating folks, no matter what the age, on the best ideas and practices in natural-resource conservation by working through as many different “alternative channels” as possible. For those with internet access, we try to provide a constant stream of interesting stories and links through our Facebook page at Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District. Our website at also holds a wealth of interesting information including an archive of conservation blogs by each member of our staff.

There is at least one great upside to our down time. It’s given us a chance to clean out some drawers and unearth some long-forgotten educational materials that still carry every bit of the punch as when they were created. Posters of the water cycle? We’ve got them. “The Secrets of Soil” workbooks? I’ve got a stack ready for every age group k-12. Laminated graphics on “Nature’s Nursery”? I’m sitting on a handful. This is just a small sampling.

All told, we’ve got dozens of conservation education items from workbooks on forestry to laminated posters on snake identification — and just about everything in between — ready to give away to anyone interested in educating young minds on the wonders of nature and the role conservation plays in keeping our planet alive and kicking.

Many of the workbook-type materials are in quantities perfectly suited for small parochial schools to use in active learning exercises. If you’re a teacher, home-schooler or just a conservation nut who loves to help shape young minds, give us a call at 330-674-SWCD to talk about what we’ve got available and schedule a time to come and peruse our collection. (We may even be able to deliver materials locally if pick-up isn’t feasible.)

Conservation education is crucial, and we’re working hard to find ways to keep delivering quality programming even in the face of the current crisis. We’re always happy to work with educators to do classroom chats, career days and conservation demos through use of video-conferencing technology. We can even arrange outdoor sessions for small groups so long as proper safety protocols can be followed. Give us a call or shoot us an email with your ideas. We love a challenge.

Email or call 330-674-SWCD ext 3.

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