Concerning Conservation Wake Soil and Water Conservation District ~ Summer 2020

Meet The Staff

As the District Director with the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Teresa Furr has over 24 years of experience in natural resource management with both State and County government. She served as a Natural Resource Conservationist with the Wake SWCD for 13 years before being promoted to District Director in March 2020. Prior to coming to Wake County, Teresa served as Environmental Program Supervisor for the NC. Agriculture Cost Share Program with the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Teresa enjoys working with private landowners and farmers in Wake County to preserve and protect the county’s vital natural resources. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and spending time with family, including her chocolate lab Lily.
Sheila Jones directs the Wake SWCD Environmental Education program to advance environmental literacy and encourage environmental stewardship of school children, teachers, and families in Wake County, NC. As Wake County Big Sweep Coordinator, Sheila partners with a dedicated team of Zone Captains to engage Big Sweep volunteers of all ages in removing litter to improve watersheds across the county. Sheila is a 32-year veteran of Wake County, a NC certified environmental educator, Past President of Environmental Educators of NC and a life member of the North American Association for Environmental Education. She lives in Youngsville with her husband Adrian and two persnickety parakeets. Sheila enjoys taking her blender for a whirl to make green smoothies and digging in the soil to make new discoveries.
John Beck has served as a Natural Resource Conservationist with the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District in Raleigh, NC since 2017. Prior to joining the Wake District, he was Horticulture Associate with the NC A&T State University Cooperative Extension Program and the Horticulture Unit Coordinator at the NC A&T University Farm from 2013-1017. John earned a Masters of Crop Science focusing in Agroecology from NC State University in 2012. John lives in Holly Springs with his wife and two sons.
Abby Haselton has been with the Wake SWCD since January 2019. She started her conservation journey with Wake SWCD as a Conservation Specialist and is now a Natural Resource Conservationist. Abby grew up in Raleigh, and is a proud NC State graduate with a BS in Plant and Soil Sciences, a minor in Horticulture, and a MS in Soil Science. One of her favorite things about working for the district is how every work day is different as the office staff works to serve the diverse community of Wake County.
Mikayla Renn is the newest staff member with Wake SWCD. She started with the District in February 2020 by filling the Conservation Specialist position. Prior to coming to Wake County, Mikayla served as a Conservation Biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. She is a NC State graduate with a BS in Conservation, Wildlife and Fisheries Biology.
Diana Irizarry is the Supervisory Soil Conservationist for NRCS in Wake, Durham, Johnston, and Chatham Counties. Diana grew up on a small coffee farm in Lares, Puerto Rico. She received her bachelor’s degree in Agronomy and Soils at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus in December 2007. In January 2008, Diana started her full-time job as Soil Conservationist with NRCS in North Dakota. She worked with NRCS in Michigan, and before moving to the Raleigh Field Office, she worked in Pitt and Bladen Counties. She is looking forward to working with the great people in Wake County.

Wake SWCD Board of Supervisors

From left to right: Jenna Wadsworth-Vice Chair, Thomas Dean-Chairman, Marshall Harvey-Treasurer, Patrick Johnson-Voluntary Agricultural District Advisory Board Chair, Nervahna Crew-Elected Supervisor. Photo by Chip Freund Photography.

Attention Producers!

The Wake SWCD anticipates receiving its cost share allocation for program year 2021 from the State in July, 2020.

Funds are available to assist farmers install conservation practices which help decrease the amount of sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, chemicals and other pollutants in the surface and ground waters of our state.

Landowners and operators of existing agricultural operations may apply for cost share assistance to install conservation practices such as grassed waterways, cropland conversion to grass or trees, cover crops, livestock or irrigation wells, and livestock exclusion fencing. Funds may also be available to assist farmers who have an inadequate water supply that may be hauling water to livestock and vegetable fields.

Applications for assistance will be accepted starting in July. With limited funding expected, farmers and producers are encouraged to contact the Wake SWCD office as soon as possible.

Contact us at 919-250-1050 or email swcd@wakegov.com for more information.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP will provide up to $16 billion dollars in direct payments to provide relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline or had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. The program also assists those who face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities. This financial assistance gives farmers and ranchers the ability to absorb some of their lost sales and increased marketing costs associated with the economic havoc caused by the global pandemic.

Producers can apply for assistance through their local FSA office. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

We've got you covered!

The Wake SWCD has received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant to promote cover crop adoption in Wake County.

The Wake SWCD is soliciting applications from crop and livestock producers who want to plant cover crops (defined here as a crop that is not harvested) in 2020-2021. In order to be eligible, 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.

For any questions, please contact the Wake SWCD office at 919-250-1050 or email swcd@wakegov.com.

Have you heard about the Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) Program?

The purpose of the VAD program is to:

Preserve and protect farmland from non-agricultural development.

Encourage the economic and financial health of agricultural areas.

Increase the identify and pride in the agricultural community and its way of life.

Over 8,000 acres of farmland have been preserved and protected through the VAD program in Wake County.

Eligible tracts of lands for the VAD program must have a minimum of 20 acres of qualified forestry, 10 acres of agriculture, or 5 acres of horticulture.

Recent Events

Our annual Keeping the Farm Workshop is a great opportunity for Wake County farm and forest landowners to learn about topics related to their concerns and interests for their property.

I can unequivocally attribute the fact that what we have taken away from the workshop has saved our family farm. -David Adams
2020 Keeping the Farm Workshop attendees -Photo Credit: John Beck
Kay Coleman and Talmage Brown presenting about Oaky Grove Farm- Photo Credit: John Beck

If you missed the Keeping the Farm Workshop this year, you can view the full workshop video below.

Wake District's Conservation Poster Contest

This year’s “Wetlands Are Wonderful” Top 10 poster winners pose proudly with their framed certificates at the annual Conservation Awards Celebration hosted by the Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. All Top 10 are 5th grade students from four local elementary schools. The Top 3 poster winners won cash prizes of 1st Place - $100, 2nd Place - $50, and 3rd Place- $25 made possible by Novozymes North America Inc.

Front row, from left to right: 2nd Place Tyler Whitley - A.B. Combs Elem. in Raleigh, Christopher Wooten – Hunter Elem. in Raleigh, 3rd Place Leighton Little – A.B. Combs Elem., and Aneesh Pudipeddi – Green Hope Elem. in Cary

Second row, from left to right: Lizzy May – Abbotts Creek Elem. in Raleigh, Reneeka Roy, Nishka Nerkar, 1st Place Prisha Shah, and Laasya Kompella all from Green Hope Elem.

Back row: WRAL-TV 5 Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner and former Wake District Director Dale Threatt-Taylor. Note: Missing from the photo is Jack Chapman – Hunter Elem.

Photo Credits: Chip Freund Photography

Fifth grader Prisha Shah of Green Hope Elementary in Cary proudly points to her two-time winning poster that won her $150, a “NCwetlands.org” tote bag, and the honorary title of “#1 Fifth Grade Wetlands Poster in Wake County!”

Photo Credits: Chip Freund Photography

Fourth grader Cora Young of Joyner Elementary in Raleigh proudly holds her three-time winning poster that won her $200, a “NCwetlands.org” tote bag, and the honorary title of “#1 Fourth Grade Wetlands Poster in Wake County!”

Photo Credit: Sheila Jones

For more information or to enter the annual contest for 4th and 5th graders in Wake County, email sbjones@wakegov.com.

2020 Resource Conservation Workshop (RCW) Wake County Scholarship Awardees

Before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 RCW at NC State University, these six Wake County high school students were selected to receive a competitive $550 scholarship from the Wake SWCD Board of Supervisors and Friends of Wake SWCD.

Braeden Bell (rising senior) Rolesville High School, Lucienne Boileve (rising senior) Enloe High School, Mae-Bryant Cates (rising senior) Broughton High School, Joy Othoo (rising junior) Wakefield High School, Olivia Trahan (rising junior) Garner High School, Shayne Zeller (rising junior) Holly Springs High School

Wake Green Schools Partnership Kick-off Event

A new partnership has formed between Wake County Public Schools System and a myriad of community partners to encourage every school to become an exciting place to actively learn about the environment whether indoors or out. At a special kick-off event held March 9th at Apex High School, nearly 200 educators and community partners met to share successes and new ideas to integrate environmental education across the school curriculum and to make local schools more sustainable. Wake District was there!

York Elementary’s Creek Keepers pose before removing litter from the creek behind their school as part of Wake County Big Sweep. For taking 10 positive actions to learn about and improve their local Hare Snipe Creek watershed, York Elementary was honored as a Watershed Stewardship School (WSS) by the Wake SWCD. 2020 marks York Elementary’ s 9th year as a WSS Leader that continues its environmental learning and stewardship activities while serving as a model “green school” for other Wake County schools to emulate. York’s lead teachers are Suzy Greene and Janna Houston who both teach 2nd grade.

Wake Soil and Water Conservation District serves on the Wake Green Schools Environmental Literacy Committee and works closely with Wake schools to advance environmental literacy and encourage environmental stewardship through its education and volunteer programs. Free technical assistance is offered as workload allows, as well as several competitive cost-share programs that fund green schools best management practices.

Wake District Director Teresa Furr helps students plant their native prairie garden at Wiley Elementary in downtown Raleigh. Teresa worked closely with the school to reduce stormwater runoff and soil erosion that deposited sediment directly into a city storm drain. The prairie garden benefits the schoolyard in three ways: absorbs stormwater runoff, captures any eroded soil before it moves off-site, and attracts pollinators. The project was funded by a Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP) cost-share grant that was matched in funding by the school’s PTA. Wake District also recruited high school student volunteers to help Wiley Elementary mulch and maintain its native prairie garden to keep it functioning at top capacity

For more information about the Wake Green Schools Partnership or the Wake District’s environmental education programs, contact Sheila Jones at sbjones@wakegov.com

Wake SWCD Accolades

After 26 years, Dale Threatt-Taylor retired from the Wake SWCD in December 2019. She is now serving as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Nature Conservancy.

Nicknamed the ‘Conservation Evangelist,’ Dale wants everyone in the city, county, state and nation to understand that locally-led conservation begins with an individual, and that all our conservation work matters.

Dale Threatt-Taylor was nominated and awarded the North Carolina Order of The Long Leaf Pine. She received the award at the Hugh Hammond Bennett Annual Awards Ceremony on February 28th, 2020. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is an honor granted by the State of North Carolina to individuals who have shown extraordinary service to the state. It is the highest award for state service granted by the Office of the Governor.

Photo by Bill Sandifer.

Mark Your Calendars!

July 8th - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

August 12th - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

August 15th - Priority deadline for NFWF Cover Crop Program

August 28th - Application deadline for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

September 4th- Labor Day, Office Closed

September 9th - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

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


Created with images by Spencer Pugh - "I’m an uncle" • Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn - "Farming Potatoes" • Tarikul Raana - "untitled image" • Kawin Harasai - "Leaf" • Eric Rothermel - "Monthly schedule"