A new school year has begun and the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District is offering opportunities for conservation engagement by K-12 students, teachers and staff. The program is possible through conservation education mini-grants and the youth conservation poster contest.

Richland County public, private and alternative schools are eligible to apply for a grant of up to $1,000 to support conservation projects and youth environmental education initiatives.

Mini-grants may be used to support conservation-related student projects including, but not limited to:

  • outdoor classrooms
  • school gardens
  • nature trails
  • wildlife habitats
  • composting initiatives
  • air quality campaigns

Proposals will be evaluated on the project’s conservation impact, feasibility, student and community involvement, and educational outcomes. Two award periods are available, one in the fall and one in the spring. Applications for grants are due Oct. 1 (fall funding) and Feb. 4, 2022 (spring funding).

Applications can be submitted online.

Richland County students are encouraged to combine their artistic skills with scientific knowledge for this contest. Participants are asked to create a poster based on the theme “Healthy Soils: Healthy Life.”

County winners will advance to the state contest, and state winners will progress to the national competition. Winners at each level will receive cash prizes.

Posters must be submitted on 14-by-22-inch paper. RSWCD is able to provide up to 24 sheets of the required poster paper per school. A completed entry form must be attached to the back of each poster. Entries are due Apr. 15, 2022 and forms can be found online.

To further connect students with the poster contest theme, the RSWCD is promoting classroom conservation programs focused on keeping soil healthy.

Conservation educators with the RSWCD are available to present these programs for schools and youth groups on a limited basis. All programs are correlated with state academic standards for science and tailored to each grade level.

Programs include:

  • Wonderful Worms: Vermicomposting in the Classroom
  • Supersoil: Soil Science 101
  • Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators?
  • Watershed Explorer

“We’re excited to promote soil health and soil conservation through our classroom presentation series and this year’s youth poster contest,” said Chanda Cooper, conservation education analyst for the RSWCD. “Healthy soil is essential for food and fiber production, and it also helps keep our water clean, reduces runoff and flooding, and can help mitigate climate change. There are things all of us can do to improve and protect our soil resources."

Additional information about the county’s classroom conservation programs are available online.

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