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2016 Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District Awards

First-place essay winner Parker Tuten and proud mother Dorcas Tuten. Photo by Jeff Dennis.

The annual recognition banquet for students who participate in educational contests about conservation of the outdoors was held on April 26 at the Coastal Outback Building. The Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District sponsors the essay and poster contests and proposes the topic for discussion. The Topic in 2016 is that We All Need Trees for essential elements of life like air, water, shelter, food, clothing and soil.
While the students are the focus for the evening of fellowship, the 6:30 program began with some housekeeping business. District Chair Gary Herndon made some opening remarks and the Rev. Gerald Mabry gave the invocation for the meal that would be served. Cleveland Hiott ran through the growing names of affiliate members who pay yearly dues, and then he welcomed notable representatives from state and local government. After supper, guest speaker Morris Jones from Saluda told a few jokes about the outdoors lifestyle.
The program for the event states that trees, forests and open spaces play an important role in our lives. Trees provide more than economic benefits, they help to maintain clean water and air. The poster contest is a great way to show that sentiment in colorful depictions, and it’s open for students from kindergarten through fifth grade and it is a class project. Out of the 19 total entries there were 6 winners, one each from K - 5, and the teachers of the winning classes were recognized at the awards banquet.
An essay contest is open to students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Out of a whopping 93 total essays submitted, nine winners were chosen with first, second and third places awarded for each grade. Students from Colleton Preparatory Academy claimed 6 of these awards while North Walterboro Christian Academy had three essay award winners.
First place for sixth-graders went to Carson Bailee Stanly, second place to Ansleigh Hall and third place went to Nathaniel Blubaugh. Parker Tuten took home the first-place plaque for seventh-graders, with Rianna Bailey in second place and William Hodge in third place. First place for the eighth-grade essay writers went to Joshua Headley, with second-place awards to Francis Blubaugh, and third place going to Rebecca Grant.
With the student recognition complete, District commissioner I.M. Benton presented the Conservationist of the Year award to John B. Litchfield for his lifetime of work in the cattle industry. “All this man ever did was get up each and every day and work hard to improve his own farm, and to cooperate with other cattle producers in the county to promote success for all,” said Benton. Guests on hand to see Mr. Litchfield accept the award included his family members and friends like fellow longtime cattleman Royce Herndon.
The Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District board members attend the South Carolina Conservation Partnership Conference each year and this year’s theme was Carolina Strong – After The Storm. Both federal and state agencies gave presentations on how the agriculture industry suffered damage during the weather events in 2015. While agricultural recovery is under way in Colleton County, last year was tough on local farmers and the need for a good growing season this year does not seem far from anyone’s mindset.
New affiliate members of the Soil and Water Conservation District this year include Dukes Barbecue, Hawk Haven Cattle Co. and the Law Offices of Christy L. Scott. For information about how to become affiliate member, call Sharon Hrvol at the Walterboro NRCS office number, 843-549-1821, Extension 3. And don’t forget to tell her thanks for collecting all of the poster and essay entries each year, and for promoting environmental education for the students and future conservators of Colleton County.

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (223 Posts)

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