Concerning Conservation Wake Soil and Water Conservation District ~ Fall 2020

Meet Our Friends!

Friends of Wake SWCD

The Friends of the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District is a volunteer non-profit group of local citizens who support the work of the District to protect the natural resources of Wake County. They sponsor the annual Conservation Awards Banquet, fund scholarships for high school students to attend the summer Resource Conservation Workshop at NC State, and communicate the District's value to our elected leaders.

Meet The Board of Directors

Jeff Essic- Co-chair

Jeff Essic earned a BS in Conservation in 1994 from NCSU, and has worked there since 2002 as a GIS Data Librarian.

Hilary Morris- Co-chair

Hilary Morris helps coordinate cross-state conservation partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Donald Belk- Secretary

Donald Belk is a land planner with over 30 years of experience in conservation planning and farmland preservation.

Rebecca Grzesik- Treasurer

Rebecca Grzesik is the Technical Project Manager at Zoom Video Communications.

Robin Hammond- Advisor and Founder

Robin Hammond is an attorney retired from the public and private practice of law where she often advocated for local government and environmental groups and causes. Robin is one of the founders of Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. She served as the first board chair and now serves as an adviser.

Richard Braham

Richard Braham is Professor Emeritus of Forest Management, recently retired after 42 years on the faculty at N.C. State University.

Chad Chandler

Chad F. Chandler is a retired architect and president of South Wake Conservationists – NCWF.

Elizabeth Lawdley

Elizabeth Lawdley is the Farm Manager for the Triangle Land Conservancy and a graduate student at NC State studying Landscape Architecture.

Manly Wilder

Manly Wilder retired from USDA-NRCS after serving 36 Years in several states and headquarters in DC. Also served 7 years in DENR as Director, DSWC, Asst. Secretary, and Deputy Secretary. Graduate NCSU and GWU.

Recent News

Have You Received Unsolicited Seeds In the Mail?

Many people have received unsolicited packages from China labeled as containing earrings, but actually containing seeds. Do not plant these seeds as they could be a pathway for the introduction of invasive species, insects, and plant diseases.

Two of the most common packaging types seen are shown below.

Photo credit: Joy Goforth, NCDA&CS-Plant Pest Administrator

This type of international shipment of plant material is unlawful and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services asks anyone who received one of these unsolicited foreign shipments to save the contents along with all shipping labels and contact the Plant Industry Division toll-free at 800-206-9333 or email newpest@ncagr.gov with: name, address, city, phone number, and a picture of the seeds and the package.

County Extension offices are serving as drop-off sites for citizens who receive seeds.

North Carolina residents are not in violation of any regulations if they received these shipments, but they are the key to identifying and stopping future shipments.

Rain Barrel Sale at Lake Crabtree County Park

A great way to conserve water and save money!

Cost is $50 per barrel.

You will take home a fully functional 55-gallon rain barrel with installation kit. These are the same rain barrels that retail for $99 and up! Perfect for watering fall plantings!

After you register, you’ll be sent a link to choose the date & time for pick-up at:

Lake Crabtree County Park

1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville, NC 27560

Payable at pickup by cash or check. Checks must be payable to Terra Vita.

55th Annual Conservation Awards Celebration

Hosted by: Friends of the Wake Soil & Water Conservation District

To comply with COVID-19 distancing restrictions, the 2020 Conservation Awards Celebration will be held virtually this year on December 3rd at 7:00 pm.

2020 Conservation Awards include:

Conservation Farm Family of the Year

Watershed Stewardship School Award

Dan Wilkinson WRAL Conservation Communication Award

Conservation Poster Contest - Top Ten Winners

Big Sweep Partnership Award

B.C. Raynor Friend of the District Award

Cost Share Program Highlights

Agricultural Cost Share Program (ACSP)

The ACSP provides financial assistance to farmers for installing conservation practices. Examples of conservation practices include grassed waterways in crop fields, fencing to exclude livestock from creeks, and cropland conversion to perennial pasture or hay land.

To apply for this program, farms must have been in existence for three years. All applications are ranked, and applications that provide the most water-quality benefit receive funding.

Examples are shown below of two recent ACSP projects.

Cropland Conversion to Grass

Conversion of a row crop field to Hybrid Coastal Bermuda Grass for hay production.

Before and After

Heavy Use Area and Watering Tank

Implementation of a heavy use area and watering tank to exclude livestock from a stream.

Before pictures of cow path to stream and field.
After pictures of stream buffer and heavy use area with watering tank.

Agricultural Water Resources Program (AgWRAP)

AgWRAP helps farms increase their on-farm water storage capacity and reduce dependence on the municipal water supply. AgWRAP provides financial assistance for installing wells and building or repairing ponds. Ponds and wells must be used for irrigation or to supply water for livestock.

To apply for this program, farms must have been in existence for one year. Applications are ranked, and applications with the highest water-needs receive funding. Pond applications are ranked against other applications across the state.

Photos of a recent AgWRAP project are shown below.

Micro-irrigation System

Implementation of a well and Micro-irrigation system for fruit and orchard trees

During Construction
Photos of water pump and micro-irrigation installed.

For more information on any of these programs or to start the application process, please contact our office at 919-250-1051.

Plant A Plot For Pollinators!

Fall is the Time to Plant Native Wildflowers

Insect pollination is critical for the production of many important crops in the United States. Native wildflower plots provide food for pollinators (pollen and nectar) and good wildlife habitat. You can plant native wildflowers in a small area in your yard or integrate areas into your cropland. Simple wildflower plots can yield big benefits for pollinator species.

Watch the video below to hear some benefits of bringing pollinators to your farm.

Read this article to see how farmers can ‘Bee’ a friend to pollinators.

Education Highlights

Earth Team Volunteers

Adelle Schubarg

Earth Team Volunteer Adelle Schubarg has enjoyed working on Wake District projects this summer along with spending time with family while home from college.

A rising senior majoring in environmental science at UNC-Chapel Hill, Adelle Schubarg, was a welcome Earth Team Volunteer this summer. Working from home in Fuquay-Varina, she assisted Wake District with two education programs by creating school watershed maps for the Conservation Poster Contest and Envirothon study resources for Wake County teams. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Wake County Envirothon teams will not be allowed on field trips this school year to visit forests and wetlands for hands-on learning. Adelle developed a variety of electronic study resources that middle and high school Envirothoners can access remotely such as Forestry "Cliff Notes" that include expanded notes and questions from the Forestry manual, tip sheets for tree identification, and video links that coach public speaking skills in preparation for the Envirothon’s Oral Presentation component.

To unwind and decompress, Adelle gets outside to run and walk. A special interest is plant identification and horticulture to discover new plants and research the many uses of native plants in our area. Spending time with family is a favorite pastime, especially watching history shows with her mother and learning about all things North Carolina. Adelle loves working with others and hopes to find a career as an Environmental Consultant or with an environmental nonprofit that merges her passion of environmental science with benefitting a community.

Hannah Brown Graham

Earth Team Volunteer Hannah Brown Graham loves the great outdoors and is shown here on a recent hike at Rough Ridge in Boone, NC.

An Instruction Assistant with the Wake County Public School System, Hannah Brown Graham, was a second welcome Earth Team Volunteer this summer. To earn her NC Environmental Education Certification, Hannah developed remote learning resources that address “bridging documents” that focus on the curriculum standards and important concepts that students in grades K-2 may have missed when the school year was disrupted abruptly last spring by COVID-19. By integrating environmental education topics on soil animals and how they move, properties of seeds, and camouflage characteristics of animals through indoor and outdoor activities, Hannah made the lessons fun for young children. By including colorful pictures, read-aloud stories, short videos and engaging activities along with key vocabulary, she made the work of teachers that much easier! For fun, Hannah enjoys the hobbies of knitting and hiking at Umstead State Park. Her long-term goal is to work in accessible outdoor programming that reaches children of all needs and backgrounds.

Thank you Adelle and Hannah for your valuable contributions to our education programs and remote learning this fall. We are so fortunate you were both members of our Wake District conservation team during the tumultuous summer of 2020!

Conservation Poster Contest

Did you know?

“We All Live in a Watershed!”

That’s the answer to the question and the theme for this year’s Conservation Poster Contest.

Wake County students in 4th and 5th grade are invited to participate in a three-fold challenge:

• Identify their home or school’s local watershed and North Carolina River Basin

• Learn about polluted stormwater runoff and how it harms clean water, and

• Research and illustrate a best management practice (BMP) that is used in cities or on farms to keep water clean and watersheds healthy.

Wake District provides a study guide, rubric, and other online resources to participating teachers and students. To meet the remote learning needs of teachers and students who are at home due to COVID-19, Wake District has adapted the poster contest rules and procedures. This fall students will create their posters on 8½”x11” paper and submit photos of their artwork. The photos will be judged by a judging panel of community partners with watershed expertise and an appreciation of children’s artwork that blends the best of science knowledge with artistic elements. The Top Ten poster winners will be recognized at the 55th Annual Conservation Awards Celebration sponsored by the Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. At this virtual event on December 3rd, the Top Three poster winners will be announced and presented cash awards.

The annual Conservation Poster Contest is sponsored by Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and Novozymes North America Inc. Last year 1,325 students participated in the poster contest with Wake County’s 1st Place 4th and 5th grade posters winning honors at the regional and state levels.


The Envirothon is an academic competition that challenges teams in grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 on their knowledge of five natural resource topics: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife, and current environmental issues. Five-member teams study throughout the school year in preparation of taking five written exams together at the official competitions. The Area 4 Envirothon is the qualifying event for Wake County teams and 10 neighboring counties. Teams that earn the Top 7 middle and high school scores advance to the North Carolina Envirothon to compete with the best teams from across the state.

Prizes include cash prizes, engraved plaques, top-score medallions for each topic area, and college scholarships. The state champion high school team represents North Carolina at the international NCF-Envirothon where teams from 50 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces and China compete for cash prizes and college scholarships. Last spring a record 19 Wake County teams registered for the Envirothon.

After the disappointment of having to cancel the 2020 Envirothon due to the global coronavirus pandemic, competition organizers guarantee there’ll be regional and state competitions in spring 2021. Ideally, the Envirothon is an in-person event with hundreds of middle school and high school students competing outdoors at a large park or farm. But if COVID-19 remains a major health emergency, the competition will be converted to virtual exams online.

New S.T.R.A.W.S Project

Thanks to a generous grant from the Ocean Conservancy, Wake District will roll out a new initiative this school year called S.T.R.A.W.S. or “ Single-use Trash Reduction At Wake Schools” in partnership with Wake County Solid Waste Management, North Carolina film director Linda Booker, and Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. The project provides every Wake County Public School System middle school with a film license to host their own screening of STRAWS, a 33-minute documentary that raises awareness of single-use plastic pollution. The film focuses on plastic straws that rank as one of the Top 10 litter items collected globally. STRAWS was filmed by North Carolina film director Linda Booker and can be shown with the school license in perpetuity.

Teachers will also receive STRAWS lesson plans and marine debris activities from the Ocean Conservancy that provide project-based STEM lessons that reinforce concepts introduced in the film while making them fun, meaningful and relevant to teenagers. In addition, middle school students in grades 6-8 will be challenged to create videos that persuade people to reduce their consumption and use of single-use plastics at school and home. Participating middle schools will submit their Top Three videos in a county-wide contest to win prizes and recognition. Judges will look for the videos that are most compelling and creative.

The middle school students have creative license to follow up the film screening with panel discussions, lively Q&A sessions and educational outreach. We can’t wait to see how these young people apply their newfound STRAWS knowledge in writing and filming their own video to address the worldwide issue of single-use plastic pollution. -Jenna Wadsworth, Wake District Supervisor.

Cancelled: 2020 Fall Big Sweep

Wake County Big Sweep hopes to return in spring 2021 to engage volunteers in removing litter from waterways across the county from Apex to Zebulon, and Holly Springs to Wake Forest. To be placed on the Big Sweep volunteer email list to receive future cleanup alerts, please contact Wake County Big Sweep Coordinator Sheila Jones at sbjones@wakegov.com.

Mark Your Calendars!

Meetings and Closures

October 14th - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

November 3rd - Election Day

November 10th - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

November 11th - Veteran's Day, Office Closed

November 26th & 27th - Thanksgiving, Office Closed

December 3rd - Virtual Conservation Awards Celebration @7pm (Canceled)

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need assistance, don't hesitate to contact us. You can contact the Wake SWCD office by emailing swcd@wakegov.com or by calling 919-250-1051. For more information, visit our website at www.wakegov.com/swcd.
Agricultural Services Building, 4001-D Carya Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610


Created with images by Meredith Petrick - "untitled image" • Joshua Lanzarini - "Seeds of Change" • Waldemar Brandt - "Blue Flowers in front of a cement wall" • Kari Shea - "Ugmonk" • Lauren Mancke - "Taking notes at coffee time" • Dan Roizer - "Virgin forests around a river" • Cate Bligh - "A blue, disposable face mask." • Erol Ahmed - "During a walk in Michigan." • Omar Lopez - "untitled image"