The Stokes County Soil and Water Conservation District honored area students for their entries into the annual poster and essay contests and named the 2016 Conservation Educator and Farm Family of the year during its annual awards banquet last week.
Nancy Reynolds Elementary School’s Judy Dearborn was named the Conservation Educator of the Year for her work promoting science and conservation in the classroom.
“You can see that her students love working with her,” said Stokes Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Marvin Cavanaugh. “They get excited when a new assignment begins and they are always ready to volunteer to do their part in the hands-on projects.”
Those projects have included an in-class recycling center, which Dearborn used to inspire her students to create slide shows for the rest of the school explaining the need for and benefits of recycling. Dearborn has also taught her students about the water cycle, helping them to create a solar still and having the students act out different parts of the water cycle. The class also learned about the importance of soil conservation buffers, using a strip of rye around a school garden they planted to keep soil from being washed away.
“Students really interested in preserving our natural resources can join Mrs. Dearborn’s Environmental Club,” said Cavanaugh. “Students donate their recess time during PE day to pick up litter and meet with the club to discuss environmental issues and plan activities.
“It is clear that Mrs. Dearborn is dedicated to her job and most importantly to the children she educates every day with hands-on activities and experiences they will remember for a lifetime,” he added
2016 Conservation Farm Family
Benny and Kelsie Martin of Triple M Farm have been named the 2016 Conservation Farm Family of the Year for their work on a 43-acre farm in the Sandy Ridge community.
Stokes Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors Chair James Booth said the family had transitioned the farm land from old tobacco fields to hay land and eventually to pasture land for their cattle operation.
“In 2009 Benny signed a conservation farm plan certifying sound management of the land,” said Booth. “He later began installing best management practices.
After securing the fields in fescue and adding cattle the Martin’s erected over 7,500 linear feet of fencing, creating three paddocks for cattle rotation.
“In 2013 he worked with the Soil and Water office to add over 2,000 additional feet of fencing to exclude cattle from the stream and pond area to improve water quality,” said Booth, noting that the martins also installed an agricultural well with two watering tanks and over 435 feet of underground pipeline. “Benny also completed extensive work on the farm pond which was filled with sediment from years of run off from the old tobacco fields.”
The Martins also manage over 100 acres of forestland on other tracts in the county , as well as 1,000 acre property in Patrick County, Va.
“Benny was given the Best Management Practices Award from the Patrick County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Virginia Department of Forestry in 2004,” said Booth, adding that the Martins use compost on their Sandy Ridge farm to enhance the soil. “Everywhere you look on the farm you see birdhouses, marten gourds and duck boxes erected to promote wildlife habitat in the area. You can truly see the Martins desire to be good stewards of the the land.”
Resource Conservation Delegate
Stokes County early College High School Student Morgan Flynt was named as this year’s delegate to the Resource Conservation Workshop held at N.C. State University every year.
“It is a unique opportunity for North Carolina’s high school students to experience a week-long study into the world of conservation careers, college life and environmental impacts,” said Booth. “Topics include soil conservation, wildlife and fisheries management, forest management, non-agricultural uses for soils, and water quality management.”
Essay contest winners
The theme for this year’s essay contest was “We all live in a watershed.”
Southeastern Stokes Middle School’s Abigail Dodson took first place in the contest and Trey Seagle, also from Southeastern, took second place in the contest.
Poster contest winners
The annual poster contest was also based on the importance of watersheds using the same theme as the essay contest.
First place winners included Pinnacle Elementary School third grader Kadin Gwyn, Germanton Elementary School fourth grader Jaden Tuttle, Lawsonville Elementary School fifth grader Emma Bingman, and Southeastern Stokes Middle School sixth grader Austin Smith.
Second place winners included Pinnacle Elementary School third grader Maddie Childress, Germaton Elementary School fourth grader Jenna Rayburn, King Elementary School fifth grader Dorothy Nash and Southeastern Stokes Middle School sixth grader Ka’Laysia Fulp.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.