Concerning Conservation Wake Soil and Water Conservation District ~ Winter 2020

A Year in Review

2019-2020 Annual Report

The Wake Soil and Water Conservation District works tirelessly in the interests of the nearly 800 farms and over 84,000 acres of farmland in our county by providing technical assistance, implementing conservation management plans and water quality improvement practices, and enhancing wildlife habitat.

Conservation Planning

During the 2019 fiscal year, Wake Soil and Water Conservation staff, along with USDA-NRCS staff, delivered excellent customer service to Wake County's farm community by writing conservation plans and implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) on more than 2,500 acres which protected water quality and improved soil health. The Natural Resource Conservationists assisted farmers and landowners by visiting over 250 farm tracts, wrote 24 contracts for financial assistance and encumbered $232,526 in state and federal cost share funding.

To the left, you can see one of the popular NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Enhancements - cropland conversion to trees for long term water quality improvement. Pictured on the right is an installed grassed waterway.

Agricultural Leadership

The District staff provided representation and leadership by serving on the Wake County Agribusiness Council, Wake County Water Partnership, Capital City Grange, Walnut Hill Advisory Committee, Wake Nature Preserve, Land Protection Committee, Conservation Strategies Committee, Piedmont Conservation Council and many others.

Staff spoke at national conferences, participated in environmental discussion panels, and hosted local education/outreach events for Wake County farm and forest landowners. Staff continue to serve on local, state and national boards, bringing attention to Wake County as a destination for future conservation.

Environmental Education

Wake Soil and Water Conservation provided hands-on learning and educator training to students and teachers of North Carolina’s largest school system. Although the Department has only one Environmental Educator, Sheila Jones, the impact was significant – as revealed by regional and state winners in the Conservation Poster Contest and selection of six students for scholarships to attend the week-long Resource Conservation Workshop at NC State University. She supported the Bionomic Education Training Center (BETC) program in 4 Wake County schools, provided training to 19 Wake County teams in the Envirothon competition, and assisted Abbotts Creek Elementary to become certified as a new Watershed Stewardship School.

The Environmental Educator also coordinated the Wake County Big Sweep program, engaging 518 volunteers who donated 1,263.75 hours valued at $32,137 and removed over 10,527 pounds (5.3 tons) of trash from streams, creeks and other waterways in 19 Wake County watersheds for the Fall 2019 Big Sweep cleanups.

Grant Funding

Wake Soil and Water Conservation District partnered with Piedmont Conservation Council to restore 1,252 linear feet of stream on a tributary to Smith Creek. The goal of this stream restoration project was to not only stabilize the stream’s bank but also to improve water quality, which improves habitat for aquatic life. Funding for this project came from a Clean Water Management Trust Fund Grant, NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation Hurricane Matthew Funds, Town of Wake Forest, and a landowner donation.

To the left you can see the prior condition of the stream and to the right, a picture showing the restoration.

Wake Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for Advancing Soil Health through Best Management Practice (BMP) adoption and installation projects. This grant, totaling $95,820, will provide financial and technical field assistance to farmers, provide training on the benefits of cover crops and grazing cover, and encourage long-term adoption of BMPs that improve soil health and water quality in Wake County.

Moving Forward

Requests for both technical and financial assistance continues to increase from Wake County farmers and landowners that need District staff to help them design and install conservation practices on their property to protect vital soil and water resources. With the 2020 fiscal year underway, we look forward to continuing our mission of protecting the natural resources of Wake County through voluntary technical, educational and funding assistance to citizens, businesses, communities, municipalities and partners.

Program Updates

Cover Crop Grant Program

The Wake SWCD received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant at the beginning of this year to promote cover crop adoption in Wake County. The program runs from February 2020 to December 2022. For the 2020-2021 program year, Wake SWCD solicited applications during the summer from crop and livestock producers who wanted to plant cover crops in fall 2020. Nineteen producers were accepted into the program this year and planted over 700 acres of cover crops in October and November.

An example of established cool season cover crops. To the left is cereal rye, crimson clover, Austrian winter peas, and radish planted in late September. To the right is a mix of 8 grasses, legumes and brassicas planted in mid-October.

Benefits of planting cover crops:

Improves soil health and quality

Reduces runoff and prevents erosion

Reduces weeds and pests

Protects watersheds

Provides habitat for wildlife and pollinators

The application deadline for the 2021-2022 season will be in August 2021. To be eligible for the program, the land must be actively farmed and a soil test, not more than three years old, is required. Preference will be given to land in priority watersheds with the highest potential to reduce soil and nutrient loss.

If you have questions about the cover crop grant program, please contact our office at 919-250-1050 or email swcd@wakegov.com.

Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP)

Wake Soil and Water Conservation District is committed to improving water quality, not only on agriculture properties through Best Management Practices (BMPs), but also on urban, suburban, and rural properties not involved in agriculture through the Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP).

CCAP is a voluntary cost-share assistance program that helps landowners install BMPs on their property to improve water quality. Along with cost-share assistance, we also provide technical assistance to residents of Wake County. Technical assistance can include discussing water quality issues over the phone or through email, planning a site visit, or connecting residents with the municipality better suited to serve them. This year, through CCAP, the District received funds to install a bioretention area, two grassed swales, and a critical area planting on a property in the Black Creek Watershed. Past CCAP projects have included rain gardens, streambank stabilizations, and stream restorations.


Careers in Conservation Scholarship Opportunity

The Careers in Conservation Scholarship Program's goal is to increase the number of qualified people committed to working in the field of natural resource management thereby supporting the mission of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Scholarship recipients will be students who are currently pursuing or have firm plans to pursue a college degree in natural resource management or other closely related fields. The Foundation’s scholarship program is funded by generous donations of the Bowman family.

The NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation is now accepting applications for the Fall/ Spring 2021 Careers in Conservation Scholarship Program.

The Foundation plans to award merit-based scholarships up to $5,000 per student per school year, renewable at the discretion of the Scholarship Selection Committee. The program typically awards 10 to 15 scholarships per year at $1,000 per student. Subsequent awards are contingent upon successful academic progression. Current CIC scholars are REQUIRED to submit a new application each year to be considered for another year of funding.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on February 7, 2021.

Additional questions should be directed to Michelle Lovejoy, Executive Director, by emailing ncfswc@gmail.com. Transcripts should be mailed to NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation at: 5171 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 330, Raleigh NC 27612.

2021 Conservation Poster Contest

“We All Live in a Watershed!”

This fall, students entered the 2021 Conservation Poster Contest by illustrating how a pollutant or problem impacts watersheds and one solution or best management practice that can keep watersheds healthy. Due to remote learning this year, students created their posters on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and submitted photos of their posters. The posters were judged by a panel of community partners with watershed expertise and an appreciation of children’s artwork.

A total of 53 students entered the 2021 "We All Live in A Watershed" Conservation Poster Contest in 26 4th and 5th grade classes from 4 participating schools. The Top 10 Winners will receive certificates from the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and the Top 3 Poster Winners will also receive cash prizes of 1st place - $100, 2nd place - $50, and 3rd place - $25 made possible by Novozymes North America, Inc. The #1 overall 4th and 5th grade District posters will advance to the regional competition with 10 other counties in April 2021.

Top Ten Winners!

Top Three 2021 Conservation Poster Contest Winners!

3rd Place Winner and Top 4th Grade Poster!

Congratulations David Dong from Fuller Elementary School! David will be awarded a cash prize of $25 and his poster will advance to the regional competition with 10 other counties in April 2021.

2nd Place Winner!

Congratulations Finley Halabicki from Abbotts Creek Elementary School! Finley will be awarded a cash prize of $50.

1st Place Winner and Top 5th Grade Poster!

Congratulations Saanvi Garcha from Fuller Elementary School! Sanvi will be awarded a cash prize of $100 and her poster will advance to the regional competition with 10 other counties in April 2021.

The annual Conservation Poster Contest would not be possible without the generosity and support of Novozymes North America Inc.

SWCD Board and Staff Updates

Marshall Harvey completed his second term on the Wake SWCD Board of Supervisors

The Board of Supervisors and Wake SWCD Staff presented Marshall Harvey with a Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his eight years of exceptional service to the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

Marshall expressed his appreciation to the Board and staff for the years they have worked together as a strong unit. His next journey will be acting as an Associate Wake SWCD Board Supervisor and joining the Friends of the Wake SWCD, so he can stay connected and support the District's conservation work in Wake County.

Thank you Marshall Harvey for your service to the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District!

Wake SWCD Board of Supervisors welcomes newly elected Supervisor, Scott Lassiter.

Lassiter was sworn in on December 7th by Chief Justice Paul Newby.

Lassiter is excited to serve the SWCD through all outlets including performing site-visits to meet and understand the needs of farmers and landowners, speaking with community and school groups, and serving as a voice to support the implementation of best management practices to protect the land of Wake County.

He and his wife Jamie are natives of Wake County hailing from Apex and Fuquay-Varina, respectively. Professionally, Lassiter is an Assistant Principal with the Wake County Public School System and understandably is excited about the environmental education aspects of his new role. In his free time Lassiter enjoys golf, sporting clays, visiting the coast, spending time with his family (including his dog Nash), barbequing, DIY projects, being outdoors and following NC State athletics.

Thomas Dean is reappointed for another term on the Wake SWCD Board of Supervisors

Thomas Dean was sworn in on December 7th by Chief Justice Paul Newby. Thomas has served on the Wake SWCD Board for 14 years and has been acting as Board Chairman for 10 years. Dean also serves on the board for the Wake County Farm Bureau. He is an active farmer in Wake County and has always been a strong supporter for Wake County agriculture and its producers.

Welcome Matthew Martire!

Matthew accepted a Regional Forestry position from a national agreement between Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). He started his new role on November 29th and will be working out of the Raleigh Field Office.


Matthew recently graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Management. Having spent most of his life about an hour north of New York City, he is excited to be in Raleigh experiencing life in the southeast. Matthew is passionate about forests and wildlife, so he is looking forward to working as a Forester for the NWTF and NRCS.

Wake SWCD hires Caleb Lippard as the new Natural Resource Conservationist!

Caleb Lippard will join the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District office on January 4, 2021.

Caleb grew up in Rowan County near Salisbury, NC. He is a NC State graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Technology with a minor in Wildlife Sciences and is currently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Assessment from NC State. Prior to joining the Wake District, Caleb worked for the City of Greensboro and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. He enjoys hunting, fishing and being outdoors.

Mark Your Calendars!

Meetings and Closures:

December 24th, 25th, & 28th - Christmas, Office Closed

January 1st, 2021 - New Year's Day, Office Closed

January 13th, 2021 - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

February 7th, 2021- Deadline to apply for Careers in Conservation Scholarship Program

February 10th, 2021 - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

March 10th, 2021 - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Wake SWCD staff!

Warmest wishes to you and yours! We look forward to working with you next year.

If you have any questions or need assistance, don't hesitate to email us at swcd@wakegov.com or call 919-250-1051.

Agricultural Services Building, 4001-D Carya Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610


Created with images by Scott Ymker - "untitled image" • 6689062 - "financial analytics blur" • Alexas_Fotos - "bach creek landscape" • qimono - "drop splash drip" • Daria-Yakovleva - "christmas new year's eve postcard" • monicore - "christmas decoration xmas"