Education is the backbone of virtually everything the Conservation District does. In order to achieve success in programs such as preventing soil erosion or protecting water quality, educating the public is an integral part of reaching success.
The Conservation District has worked hard to promote conservation through the schools, civic groups, and general public education programs.
All of the district’s educational programs are available to public. As resources and needs become available, the district will create and provide additional topics.
Along with the programs available through the Conservation District, we also have many training aids available for educators. Click on the link below to see what we have available and use the contact page to reserve items for your next educational program.
SOIL AND WATER STEWARDSHIP
The 2015 Soil and Water Stewardship Week theme is "Local Heroes - Your Hardworking Pollinators". The theme focuses on the importance of our pollinating wildlife and their role in the foods we eat. It is said that one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat is a result of pollinators. 35% of the World's crops are a result of pollination. The crops we grow, wildlife and domestic animals rely on our pollinators for production. Whether its corn, fruits, vegetables, nuts, or berries and more, these food products would not be possible without pollinating insects or birds.
The Conservation District will be using this same theme for our annual poster contest, and Soil and Water Stewardship Week activities. If you want to learn more about Pollinators and how to enhance and protect this vital players in our environment, visit the following sites: Pollinator Partnership www.pollinator.org and Xerces Society www.xerces.org
2015 Soil and Water Stewardship Activities for kids and educators
Grades K-1 Pollinators and Plates
Grades 2-3 Pollinator Hunt
Watershed Activities for Kids
Activity Sheets you can downloadK-!st Grade
As a homeowner, there are many things you can do to practice conservation in your own backyard. When we all get involved and do our part, no matter how big or small, we do make a difference. By implementing some of the practices outlined below, you can take pride in knowing you are helping to improve our environment for future generations.
Creating Habitat in Your Backyard
By doing some creative thinking for your backyard, have you ever considered converting to a woodland backyard? Creating a woodland backyard has many benefits. They aid in shading and cooling your home, provides wildlife habitat, increases the ability for rainfall to replenish underground water reserves, and aids in filtering runoff to streams.
Creating a woodland habitat in your backyard is easy. Planting native trees and shrubs is all there is to it. The lack of lawn will save you money too! You can create recreational areas by applying mulch to picnic areas, gathering locations, etc. Once the trees and shrubs are planted, minimal maintenance is required. Allowing natural vegetation into your backyard could make you the envy of the neighborhood. By including bird feeders, nesting structures, improved habitat, and seed producing trees and shrubs can make your backyard a favorite location for birds and other small wildlife.
For more information on backyard conservation ideas, visit the websites listed here:
Stormwater Management around Your Home
We can all have a significant impact on our local streams and groundwater supplies by practicing better stormwater management control at our homes. Stormwater is the water that comes from precipitation events and can not get back into the ground as a result of impervious surfaces such as house roofs, driveways, and even yards. We have grown accustomed to dealing with stormwater as a problem rather than a resource. Our use of roof gutters and downspouts and then getting that water off our property as quickly as possible is not a good practice.
By doing a better job of handling our stormwater, we can decrease our worries to some degree. Instead of getting that water to the nearest outlet, we need to think about keeping as much of that water on our properties and provide a way to recharge our groundwater resources. The conservation district promotes the use of rainbarrels, raingardens, and land terracing as ways to make better use of stormwater and groundwater recharge.
If you are interested in making use of rain barrels, rain gardens, or land terracing, contact the conservation district and we will be happy to assist you in planning and implementation. You can also learn more by viewing the program on this site titled "Managing Stormwater at Your Home".
Minimizing Mosquitoes on Your Property
As we are all aware, mosquitoes can be a real annoyance to outside activities and affect the use of many outdoor areas. Mosquitoes can not only be an annoyance, they can be a health risk as well. Mosquitoes are known carriers of various diseases including the West Nile Virus. The conservation district is active in the monitoring, surveillance, and control of mosquito populations throughout the county.
As home owners, we can do our part to minimize and better control mosquito populations. Removal of standing or still water sources is a key practice that prevents mosquitoes from having a place to lay their eggs. Keeping planter pots, wheelbarrows, tires, raingutters, etc. free of standing water will aid in keeping populations at bay.
For homeowners that want to or have rainbarrels and also have concerns with mosquitoes, simple solutions will prevent egg laying in your rainbarrel by providing a screen over any opening to the barrel or by using mosquito larvacides.
For more information on ways to control mosquitoes or to learn more about the West Nile Virus Program, visit the WNV page by clicking here.
Streamside Property Management
If you own property that borders a stream and have concerns with the banks eroding and/or water quality. Maintenance of that land is key to alleviating some of these issues. Sometimes the impact is too great and practices need to be done to provide armor or protection, but if this is not needed, riparian buffers may be the answer to your worries. Property owners that mow or weed right to the stream are setting themselves up for stream bank issues and are not helping in the natural filtration that stream side buffers can provide. When natural vegetation is allowed to grow along a stream's banks, the benefits are amazing. When vegetation becomes established along a stream, it is referred to as a riparian buffer. These buffers provide shading and cooling effects to the stream, they filter pollutants such as lawn fertilizers, animal waste, and pesticides. The buffers also provide wildlife corridors and habitat. The vegetation in a buffer also allows for better root penetration and therefore does a better job of holding soil in place.
Ideally, riparian buffers should be as wide as possible. However, any buffer width is better than none. The greater the width, the more impact it will have to the stream.
Several programs are available to homeowners to assist in the establishment and maintenance of riparian buffers. For more information on these programs, contact the conservation district and we can assist you in making the needed contacts.
Online Educational Resources
The district has available various educational programs for your viewing from this site. The following programs are used for various public and school educational events and we are now making them available for online viewing. If you are interested in having one of these programs presented to your civic group, club, or organization, please contact the conservation district at 570-928-7057 or use the click here to submit a request online.
We offer many other programs to community and civic groups that are not easily made available online. If you are interested in having a program provided by district staff, please use our "contact us" page or call the office to schedule.
Youth Education Programs
Education plays a big part in the Conservation District. Every program that the Conservation District implements requires some form of educational component to make it work.
The district staff places a high priority on educational programs for our youth that assist in the spreading of good stewardship throughout the county. As children grow, they begin to shape their ideals and identify what is important to their life. The district hopes to instill a sense of need for the continued conservation of our natural resources.
District Staff conduct an average of 10 school programs each year. Staff members conduct programs during Soil and Water Stewardship Week, Earth Day and Arbor Day. The staff also provides programs on soil erosion and water conservation for students as part of their scheduled course work. Conservation District staff will gladly come to your classroom or youth group activity to provide an educational program. Use our contact page to schedule a program.
Educational Tool Kits
The conservation district now has educational tool kits available to county educators. Through a PA Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Education Grant, we were able to develop educational tool kits for wildlife, aquatics, soils and forestry. Kits include many hands-on supplies along with lesson plans, activity sheets and more. The kits are available to any educator, including teachers, scout leaders, 4-H leaders, park rangers, etc. in Sullivan County. Users must contact the conservation district office to sign-out a particular kit. District staff are also available to provide programs utilizing the tool kits.
District Educational Library
The Conservation District has started the development of an environmental library. Items in the library can be viewed in the office or signed out by county residents. The district library consists of books and guides to assist staff and landowners on identification of various plants, shrubs, trees, insects and more.
Titles available for use include:
The Envirothon is a program designed to cultivate a desire to learn more about our natural environment through competitive events. For over 25 years, high schools in Pennsylvania have been recognizing the value of the Envirothon experience. Starting at the local level, students prepare for the Envirothon competition by researching, studying and familiarizing themselves with five main topic areas including; soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatics and a current event that changes from year to year. Many students meet through out the year to study these topics and then compete at a local competition. The Sullivan County Students compete locally with students from Lycoming County school districts. Top scoring teams from each county then move on to the state Envirothon competition where they go up against the top teams from each county in the state. The team that finishes in the top position at states, continues on to the Canon International Envirothon.
The goal of the Envirothon is not only to teach environmental facts and realities, but also to instill an understanding of the ecological and community factors that are involved in environmental decisions and actions. With society facing a number of pressing environmental management issues in areas such as water quality, ecosystems, solid waste and land use, it’s important to show tomorrow’s leaders the positive and negative effects that individual actions have on the natural environment. Understanding the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources, realizing environmental interactions and interdependencies, and knowing where to turn for facts concerning environmental matters are all part of the Envirothon experience. Thousands of students have met the challenge and are becoming more environmentally aware, action-oriented adults.
The Conservation District staff provides assistance to the Envirothon teams through educational programs dealing with the five core subject areas. Staff members work with students in the Envirothon Club on a weekly basis.
The Conservation District provides all financial support for this program by paying all costs associated with the local and state competitions for the Sullivan County teams.
Since 1994, the Conservation District has hosted an annual poster contest for county students in grades four through six. Each year, the poster contest is based on the National Association of Conservation District’s theme. The conservation district awards the top three poster entries, in each grade, with engraved plaques and also recognizes honorable mention entries. Each year, an overall winning poster is chosen and submitted to the state poster contest sponsored by the PA Association of Conservation District’s Auxiliary. Since the first poster contest, we have been fortunate to have three state poster contest winners. Lloyd Mordan took top honors in the 1999 state contest, Robert Heinrich Jr. took top honors in the 2000 event and Samantha Skoranski took top honors in 2014 event for the 4th-6th grade class. The district proudly displays these posters along with other winning posters in the district office at the Agricultural Resources Center in Dushore.
The poster contest is an excellent tie between teachers and the message of conservation. The local teachers make a point of teaching about the annual theme and then providing adequate time for students to complete posters.
Adult Education Programs
An ever growing part of our educational outreach has been conducting programs for adult groups. The Conservation District has developed numerous programs for the general public on conservation education. Staff members have presented to several civic groups and will be more than willing to provide educational outreach to your group.
The Conservation District also offers hands on courses including pruning workshops, conservation tours, and educational programs for the general public.
Name that Scene
See how well you know Sullivan County. Every so often we will be posting a new picture taken by district staff . We know where the photo was taken. Do you? If you can identify the location, let us know by submitting your answer. Good Luck.