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Soil and Water Conservation Awards for 2012 awarded

Taylor Avant, SCDNR’s Deanna Ruth and Mollie Warren after the awards banquet.

Taylor Avant, SCDNR’s Deanna Ruth and Mollie Warren after the awards banquet.

The Colleton County Soil and Water Conservation District (CS&WCD) recognizes students each April who participate in their programs to raise awareness about rural life. Chaired by Marion Rizer, the CS&WCD is a local group that is affiliated with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Their annual district awards offer a great way for them to interact with the community that they serve.

The theme for the 2012 poster, essay, and photography contest for school kids was “Soil to Spoon… Have you eaten any soil lately?” The emphasis on soil is to help school age children understand that what they eat often comes from the soil. Besides recognizing the contest winners, the annual banquet thanks the CS&WCD affiliate members for their financial support with a catered meal and a speaker.

The April 23 banquet, held at the Outback Building on North Jefferies Boulevard, brought together students, parents, educators, and affiliate members to listen to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Biologist Deanna Ruth. She spoke on the topic of black bear recovery in South Carolina, sharing that SCDNR has an online reporting system now for any sightings. In both the Pee Dee and the Upstate, black bear sightings have been significant, and it is only a matter of time before Colletonians begin to see them, too.

CS&WCD Commissioner Gary Herndon then shared with the crowd how his fellow commissioners, the Reverend Gerald Mabry and Fred Tritapoe, had organized an SCDNR boat ride earlier in the year. Colleton schoolchildren took this boat ride in the ACE Basin in order to be exposed to the wonders of nature and the outdoors, and for them to see that the marine environment is a fragile ecosystem.

Commissioner I.M. Benton presented the Conservation Farmer of the Year Award to Henry J. Tobin of Ashton. Tobin and wife Jeanette were in attendance, and were recognized for completing several conservation-oriented projects on their property. Landowners who practice stewardship are a natural fit for the CS&WCD, and anyone wishing to join as an affiliate member can call Sharon Hrvol at 843-549-1821.

The Soil to Spoon essay contest was open to sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and 105 essays were entered into the competition. For the sixth graders, the first place winner was Mollie Warren, the second place winner was Felicity Walker, while Kelsey Roberts took third place honors. For the seventh graders, the first place winner was Dana Coffin, second place was Laura Chewning, and third place was won by Taylor Avant. For eighth-graders, the first-place winner was Lawson Griffith, second place was won by Kayla Hayden, and Nick Padgett took third place.

The photography contest was open to high school students, with four categories from which to choose. They included rural life, trees and plants, native wildlife, and landscapes. A total of 45 photos were submitted and Will Carter took home first place with his sunset photo over a tidal creek. Second place went to Joshua Craven for his photo of a grain silo at his grandparents’ farm. Haydn Ray took home third place honors with a photo of a frog in her garden patch. Honorable-mention awards went to photographers Matt Craven and Marla Strickland.

Winners in the poster contest came from the Black Street Early Childhood Center, Colleton Preparatory, and North Walterboro Christian Academy. Other schools that participated in all three contests included Forest Hills Elementary School, Bells Elementary School, Northside Elementary School, Teston Home-school, Colleton County Middle School, and Colleton County High School.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (360 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com