2019 Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training

By Stephanie Harmon, Watershed Specialist

Students exploring soil properties in Lebanon County. Photo provided by Stephanie Harmon.

On March 12, 2019, a chilly day with hints of spring, ninety energetic middle and high school Envirothon students from Lebanon County school districts, including Cornwall-Lebanon, Eastern Lebanon County, Lebanon, Myerstown Enrichment, Northern Lebanon, and Palmyra got their hands dirty at Soils Training at the Lebanon Expo Center.

The training was hosted by the Lebanon County Conservation District and coordinated by Watershed Specialist and Lebanon County Envirothon Coordinator, Stephanie Harmon. Special guest instructors included the following USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service staff: Resource Soil Scientist John Chibirka, Assistant State Conservationist Charlie Hanner, and Soil Conservationist Lindsey Bream.

The training began with a presentation on the basics of soils components, understanding maps, surveys and landforms, land use, decision making, protection, and the importance of understanding soils. John used his whimsical personality to charm and excite students about the varied importances of soil characteristics and features.

After the presentation, students rotated through two stations where they (literally) got their hands dirty by practicing the “Soil Texture by Feel” method and reading a soil textural triangle to determine the classification of two different soil samples. Additionally, students reviewed differences in soil colors and practiced how to read the color scientifically, using a “Munsell color book” (a book of color chips that follow the Munsell System of Color Notation) as used by soil scientists. Finally, students were provided an introduction and history of topographical maps and practiced reading and measuring contour lines and understanding the many different features of topographical maps.

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Conservation Districts Represented at Riparian Buffer Summit

Pike County Conservation District Executive Director Michele Long (left), and PACD Program Manager Amy Brown attended the Riparian Buffer Summit in Harrisburg February 20-21, 2019. The event was hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Photo provided by Michele Long.

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Farm Show Volunteers Needed

The 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show runs from January 5-12, 2019, in Harrisburg, PA. This year, the conservation districts will share booth space with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Two volunteers are needed for the following shifts:

  • Saturday, 1/5 – 8 a.m.­­–12:30 p.m. and 12:30–5 p.m.
  • Sunday, 1/6 – 8 a.m.­­–12:30 p.m. and 12:30–5 p.m.
  • Monday, 1/7 – 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 1/9 – 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Thursday, 1/10 – 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Friday, 1/11 – 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Saturday, 1/12 – 8 a.m.­­–12:30 p.m. and 12:30–5 p.m.

Volunteers receive a free parking pass to the event. Please email PACD Administrative Assistant Jann McNamara at jmcnamara@pacd.org to sign up or for more information.

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Conservation Districts Represented at Dive Deeper IV Summit

Sallie Gregory, Lancaster County Conservation District Educator, leads a session during the Dive Deeper Summit. Photo taken by Shannon Wehinger.

Formal and non-formal educators convened in Harrisburg on September 20, 2018, for The Dive Deeper Summit. The summit is a gathering of youth water educators in the Mid-Atlantic Region that pairs knowledge and resource sharing with networking opportunities.

Shannon Wehinger, PACD Director of Communications and Education, and several conservation district staff attended the summit. Sallie Gregory, Lancaster County Conservation District’s educator, co-presented at the “Kids Keeping Manure Out of Our Water” session. During this session, three activities were conducted based on the draft “Manure Management Planning for Youth Animal Projects” program, which is due to be finalized in June of 2019. The activity booklet is filled with activities to help youth understand PA Department of Environmental Protection regulations.

The summit provided ample opportunities to experience hands-on activities to enhance water education.

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2019 Poster Contest Theme: Life in the Soil: DIG DEEPER

Just in time for Back-to-School! The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) has announced the 2019 Poster Contest theme: “Life in the Soil:  DIG DEEPER.” PACD will be accepting photos of your county’s winners until June 30, 2019.  We can’t wait to see all of the artistic entries for this year’s theme!

Click here for the Pennsylvania contest flyer and here to read more about the NACD contest. 

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Conservation Districts Reach over 2,800 Landowners through Manure Management Mini-grant Program

The results are in! During the 2017-18 Manure Management Manual and Chapter 102 Compliance Workshops Mini-grant Program, 38 conservation districts reached over 2,800 landowners across the state.

Other outcomes include:

  • Full-day workshops held: 37
  • Half-day workshops held: 36
  • One-on-one sessions held: 181
  • Manure management plans written: 426 covering 32,798.9 acres
  • Agricultural Erosion & Sedimentation plans written: 78 covering 6,482.73 acres

In addition to completing plans, conservation district staff improved awareness of the revised Manure Management Manual and assisted farmers in understanding manure management and Chapter 102 requirements.

PACD would like to thank the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for providing the funding for this program as well as supporting conservation districts as they help landowners achieve compliance.

Financial support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection through the Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant, the Clean Water Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program (CBRAP).


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Staff from 20 Conservation Districts Attend Annual Technical Training

Conservation district and DEP staff participate in the plan review session. Photo taken by Jay Braund.

The 2018 Basic/Refresher 102/105 Technical Training course provided concentrated classroom instruction to over 40 employees of Pennsylvania’s conservation districts and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) who work with the Chapter 102 and 105 programs. The four-day course took place March 19-22, 2018, in State College, PA.

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New Round of CREP Mini-grants Now Accepting Applications

PACD is now accepting mini-grant applications for up to $3,000 to implement educational and outreach activities that support and extend the work of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Projects should focus on CREP enrollment, re-enrollment and/or CREP maintenance.

The guidelines and application for the new CREP mini-grant program for conservation districts are posted here. Questions should be directed to Shannon Wehinger at swehinger@pacd.org.

Financial and other support for the CREP Outreach Program Office Mini-grant Program is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a Growing Greener Watershed Protection grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and with additional support from USDA-NRCS.


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Registration for Spring 102/105 Topic-Based Training Opens

Registration is now open for 102/105 Topic-based Technical Training. The course is open to conservation district and DEP staff and will take place April 10-12, 2018, at the Ramada Conference Center in State College, PA. There is little or no cost to attend. Click here to register or for more information. Questions? Contact Molly Burns at mburns@pacd.org.

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