Pike County Conservation District Hosts Facebook Live Events

Screenshot from Pike County Conservation District video

Pike County Conservation District’s Communications Coordinator/Open Records Officer Devan George hosted Facebook Live education events in April. She aimed to offer a replacement for activities that were scheduled around Earth Day that had to be canceled.

Her videos focus on activities kids can do along with her for hands-on learning. Activities include making an at-home watershed model, a groundwater model, and learning about erosion. During the live sessions, Devan was able to answer questions that come up in the comments and interact with her audience.

The videos are recorded and posted on the district’s Facebook page so they can be viewed at any time. Click here to check out all the videos and consider sharing them on your social media channels or creating your own! Follow the district’s social media to be notified when new videos are posted.

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Potter County Conservation District Creates YouTube Channel

Screenshot from Potter County Conservation District video.

To continue providing environmental education and outreach, the Potter County Conservation District is working on a YouTube channel. Click here to view the channel. 

The third and most recent video is “Trout Habitat and Parts of a Stream.” In the video, Watershed Specialist Jared Dickerson fly-fishes up Dingman Run in Coudersport, PA. Along the way, he shows parts of a stream, vital trout habitat, and proper fish handling. Click here to view the video. 

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County Commissioners Publish Article on Conservation Districts

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) published an article by PACD President Mike Price in the spring 2020 issue of the Pennsylvania County News. The title of the article is “Conservation Districts Make a Difference in Our Communities.”

PACD is excited to announce that CCAP permitted us to link the article! Click here to read the entire piece. Thanks to CCAP for sharing the excellent work of conservation districts!

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Conservation District Week Resources Available

The Pennsylvania State Senate and the House of Representatives declared May 3-9, 2020, as “Conservation District Week.” During this week, district offices will hold conference calls and virtual meetings with legislators.

Conservation district resources are available here. Resources include:

Please take advantage of these resources PACD created for conservation districts to use.

Pennsylvania’s conservation districts thank Governor Tom Wolf and members of the PA House and Senate for supporting the districts through the state budget.

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Register Now for Employment Management & Law Webinar Series

Adam Long of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC will present a webinar series on Employment Management & Law for Conservation Districts, scheduled for Wednesdays June 3, July 8, and August 5 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. An in-person follow-up session is scheduled for Thursday, September 3, at the 2020 Management Summit.

The program agenda for the first session on June 3 will feature topics that are crucial to effectively and lawfully managing the conservation district workforce during times of disruption: furloughs, layoffs, and work-from-home policies. This presentation will also cover key hiring considerations for employers, leave, and other important workplace and employment policies.

Topics for the July and August webinars will include harassment training and policy, managing employee absences, wage and employee classification, and best management practices for employee communication, confidentiality, conduct, and performance concerns.

All conservation district managers and directors are encouraged to participate in these sessions. Click here for more information and to register.

Adam Long practices in the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, where he represents employers in single-plaintiff and class-based employment litigation matters and provides advice and counseling to employers on a wide range of labor and employment law issues. Adam has worked with Building for Tomorrow to present on employment law and management topics for conservation districts for over ten years.

Financial and other support for the Building for Tomorrow Leadership Development Program is provided through a grant from the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission. Guidance for the Program is provided through the Pennsylvania Conservation Partnership’s Leadership Development Committee.

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Intro to Conservation Planning Course Tentatively Scheduled for November

PACD is partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the State Conservation Commission (SCC) to deliver a three-day Introduction to Conservation Planning course. This free training is tentatively scheduled to take place on November 4-6, 2020, at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg (Hershey area) in Grantville, PA.

The event is for entry-level employees of all organizations in Pennsylvania delivering conservation planning technical assistance, including but not limited to NRCS, conservation districts, SCC, farmland preservation entities, non-profits, and private consultants. The training is free, and lunch will be provided.

To receive information on this training as it becomes available, including the online prerequisite, email Shannon Wehinger at swehinger@pacd.org.

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New Environmental Education Resources

Screenshot from HCCD’s video of Watershed Specialist Logan Stenger demonstrating a stream study.

More resources for teaching environmental education from home are now available. Huntingdon County Conservation District (HCCD) and the PA Envirothon have new things to share.

HCCD is creating some virtual field trips in the form of short videos and photo albums, including:

  • Learn how we monitor water quality and about what lives in the stream
  • Look at invasive species
  • Tour a vernal pool
  • Sample macroinvertebrates

Click here to view the videos and consider sharing them on your social media! (You must be logged in to Facebook to view.)

Pennsylvania Envirothon is hosting an online challenge week (“Pennsylvania Envirothon Week”) from May 18-22, 2020, to give this year’s students a chance to test their knowledge and stay engaged in the program. This challenge will only be available for high school students who were already participating in this year’s Envirothon. Click here to learn more. 

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Columbia County Conservation District Holds Rain Barrel Workshop via Webinar

On April 18, 2020, the Columbia County Conservation District converted their DIY Rain Barrel Workshop to a webinar! The webinar ran 1.25 hours on the Zoom platform. The district had 49 people attend the webinar and have all 50 rain barrels reserved for pick up at a later date.

Watershed Specialist Brittney Hartzell said, “I was pleasantly surprised to see the enthusiasm for the webinar and that almost everyone attended. Offering it via webinar allowed for more participants because it could be open to the public. We were not limited on space like we would have been in the original plan for an in-person workshop.”

Click here to view the PowerPoint and here for the recorded webinar.

This project was funded through a 2019-2020 PA Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Education grant.

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$2.2 Million Awarded to Berks County Farms

Photo provided by Berks County Conservation District.

Agricultural Best Management Practice (BMP) Implementation in the Chesapeake Bay

The Berks County Conservation District (BCCD) is excited to announce good news is on the way for Berks County farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Last week, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) awarded more than $200 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), including $2,232,143.00 toward Berks County agricultural operations within the Chesapeake Bay to implement agricultural best management practices (BMP’s.) RCPP is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.

BCCD will be the lead partner for the Chesapeake Bay RCPP project. Collectively, RCPP partners have also committed an additional $2,294,875.00 in contributions, totaling over $4.5 million toward the implementation of agricultural BMP’s to improve and protect local water quality. In collaboration with the USDA-NRCS, BCCD and project partners will implement Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) or a “Whole Farm Approach.” This includes implementing manure handling systems, animal heavy use area protection, and near-stream conservation practices such as riparian buffers, filter strips, and animal exclusion fencing, all while providing much needed technical assistance and conservation planning.

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Three PA Projects Funded through RCPP Program

Berks, Armstrong, and Butler Conservation Districts among partners

USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) announced it is investing in 48 conservation projects across 29 states through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will award $206 million for these 48 RCPP projects while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.

Three projects were selected for funding in Pennsylvania:

  • Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape
    Lead partner: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
    Funding amount: $ 9,928,571
    The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will target the long-term protection of farmland and deciduous forests in the Kittatinny Ridge corridor of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Farm and forest land preservation investments in this region ensure food security for a growing population, support Pennsylvania’s robust agricultural economy, and protect wildlife habitat in a region home to threatened and endangered species.

  • Ag BMP Implementation in the Chesapeake Bay
    Lead partner: Berks County Conservation District
    Funding amount: $2,232,14
    The Berks County Conservation District will implement Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) and establish near stream conservation practices such as riparian buffers, filter strips, and animal exclusion fencing on operations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The partners intend to model the project’s water quality improvements and report on nutrient and sediment load reductions generated by conservation implementation by producers.

  • Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Alliance
    Lead partner: Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania
    Funding amount: $1,169,618
    The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, supported by several local partners, plans to carry out conservation planning, implement conservation practices, and purchase easements to support the long-term goal of delisting Buffalo Creek, currently designated as an impaired water body. The watershed designated as an Important Bird Area and is home to several threatened wildlife species including Eastern hellbender and Indiana bat.
    Project Partner: The Armstrong Conservation District: “The Armstrong Conservation District is proud to partner with Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, The American Chestnut Foundation, and the Butler Conservation District to deliver high quality conservation programs and projects to our cooperators and landowners in the Buffalo Creek Watershed.” District Manager Dave Rupert states, “this partnership among our neighboring Butler Conservation District and two other highly respected non-governmental organizations is something that we have discussed for years and is now going to be a reality.”

Click here to view all the projects funded and here for the press release. 

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