Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts

We support Pennsylvania’s Conservation Districts who work for clean water and healthy soil every day.

Montgomery County Conservation District Holds Tour of “Food Forest”

Tour of a Riparian Buffer “Food Forest” at Martha’s Community Farm photo provided by Montgomery County Conservation District.

On April 20, 2024, Montgomery County Conservation District’s Watershed Specialist Brian Vadino worked in partnership with Martha’s Choice Marketplace and Community Farm and Penn State Master Watershed Stewards Program in Montgomery County to host a tour of a riparian buffer food forest planting project that was completed at the Farm along Perkiomen Creek in Fall 2022.

The riparian buffer tour was designed to showcase the completed project and was delivered in conjunction with a public tour of other planting areas (gardens and greenhouses) located at Martha’s Choice Marketplace and Community Farm. The Farm is the largest food pantry in Montgomery County, serving almost 20,000 individuals and delivering 1.5 million pounds of food every year. 

Click here to view a short video about the event. 

Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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Berks County Conservation District Holds Ribbon Cutting for SWAG Bus

Berks County Conservation District holds ribbon cutting ceremony for their SWAG bus.

On May 4, 2024, The Berks County Conservation District (BCCD) held its annual Conservation Celebration and Seedling Sale at Berks County Agricultural Center. The celebration included live music, food trucks, a rain barrel auction, and exhibits from partners.

During the event, BCCD held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new and much anticipated SWAG Bus. The Soil, Water, and Agricultural Mobile Education Bus is filled with hands-on educational displays. It will be used to teach children and adults about conserving natural resources in Berks County. PACD Executive Director Brenda Shambaugh attended the event (pictured second from right).

The district also held a seedling sale dedication ceremony for former board member Mark Wolfskill.

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Conservation District Week Concludes

On April 29, 2024, Senator Gene Yaw and Senator Elder Vogel offered remarks regarding Conservation District Week in Pennsylvania. Click here to watch the video of Senator Yaw and here for the video of Senator Vogel. 

Thank you to conservation districts that reached out to their legislators and the public last week to share your great work!

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Register for the Section 319 Virtual Watershed Planning and Implementation Meeting

The Section 319 Virtual Watershed Planning and Implementation Meeting will take place from 9:00 a.m. to Noon daily May 28 and 29, 2024. The event is open to entities involved in Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management projects, including conservation district staff, DEP and EPA staff, incorporated watershed associations, counties, municipalities, councils of governments, 501(c)(3) non-profits, educational institutions, and municipal authorities.

Agenda highlights include updates from the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Stream Restoration Puzzle: Why Investment Projects Often Fail to Meet Water Quality Standards presented by the Stroud Water Research Center, and Watershed Planning in the Pequea: Meeting Federal Standards through Local Approaches presented by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Click here for more information and to register.

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First Week of Agricultural Conservation Technical “Boot Camp” Training Level II Concludes

The Boot Camp Level II Agronomy Track (top) and Engineering Track (bottom) pose for a group photo on their first day of class.

Thirty-two individuals attended the first Agricultural Conservation Technical Boot Camp Training session – Level II, April 29-May 3, 2024, at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County. Attendees included staff from conservation districts, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and affiliates, PACD, and the State Conservation Commission.

The Level II training consists of two learning tracks: agronomy and engineering. The two tracks allow participants to focus more deeply on their area of study. The event features a balance of classroom and field work to give participants hands-on experience.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the State Conservation Commission sponsor the training, which PACD coordinates with these partners.

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2024 Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training

NRCS Soil Scientist John Chibirka leads students in a soil texture exercise at the 2024 Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training.

Submitted by: Lebanon County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Katie Hollen

On March 20, 2024, approximately eighty students attended the Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training. Middle and high school students participated from ELCO; the Lebanon, Northern Lebanon, and Palmyra school districts; Lebanon Christian Academy; and Myerstown Enrichment Center.

The Lebanon County Conservation District hosted the hands-on training at the Lebanon Expo Center. Soil Scientist John Chibirka (Berks) and Assistant State Conservationist Charlie Hanner (Lebanon) from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) were special guest instructors.

John began the morning with a presentation on soil forming factors, soil texture, soil horizons, and more. Students viewed a soil map of Pennsylvania and learned about the importance of understanding soil properties when making land-use decisions. They also learned about our state soil, Hazleton.

After the presentation, students used the soil textural triangle to classify different soil samples. John assisted the students as they practiced making ribbons with soil and estimating the amounts of sand, silt, and clay in each sample. He also showed them how to use Munsell Soil Color Books to determine the color of each soil sample. Charlie introduced students to topographic maps and led an exercise in which students used soil surveys to determine the soil types at their schools.

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Monroe County Conservation District Holds Buffer Workshop and Tree Planting

David Hooker (center) with Monroe County Conservation District demonstrates how to properly plant a tree, including the need to free up the outer roots when removing a tree from the container to prevent the tree from becoming root bound. Photo provided by MCCD.

On April 13, 2024, the Monroe County Conservation District held a riparian buffer workshop and tree planting at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Stroudsburg, PA. Fifty-four people attended the event.

The event included hands-on conservation, such as tree planting, and a presentation on how attendees can protect water quality. The participants also toured the site to learn about previous restoration efforts and how they are working to protect the county’s water resources.

The project was funded by the PACD Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention Educational Mini-grant Program.

Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Indiana County Conservation District Opens Agricultural Small Grant Program

Photo of the 2023 Thank A Farmer Dash Race Start provided by Indiana County Conservation District.

Friends of the Indiana County Conservation District has announced that it is now accepting applications for the agriculture small grant program funded through the Cambria/Indiana Farmer Assistance Fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

The program provides financial support to small farmers in Indiana and Cambria Counties for business plan development or implementation that focuses on sustainable farming models, including providing match funding for sustainable farming projects and the development of conservation best management practices.

Two awards of up to $1,500 will be provided to agricultural producers or landowners engaging in agricultural activities. To be eligible, the applicant’s operation must be in either Indiana or Cambria Counties.

Funding for this grant program has been raised through the Annual Thank a Farmer Dash held every November on the Ghost Town Trail in Ebensburg. The 2024 Thank a Farmer Dash is scheduled for November 16.

For more information about the Agriculture Small Grant Program, visit https://www.iccdpa.org/agriculture-small-grant-program.

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Bucks County Conservation District Participates in Adopt-a-Highway Clean-Up

Photo of the trash pick-up crew provided by Bucks County Conservation District.

On April 26, 2024, Bucks County Conservation District rolled up its sleeves for its biannual Adopt-a-Highway clean-up on Ferry Road, Doylestown, PA. The district gathered 18 bags of trash, plus a few car parts!

Congratulations to Bucks County Conservation District for making a positive impact, one bag of trash at a time.

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