Celebrating 75 Years of Education
Updated: Jan 19
As we were researching our history, getting ready to celebrate our 75 year anniversary, we realized that conservation education has always been a priority for the District. In the early years, the District was led by a board of supervisors in partnership with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Cooperative Extension Staff.
According to annual reports, the board members and partners had been writing articles to educate the community about best conservation practices in farming from the beginning. In just a few years, they were averaging around 26 newspaper articles a year!
By 1949, illustrated talks were presented at community clubs and schools. In 1957, youth education became a priority of the District and they involved the Boy Scouts and the Claremont Rod & Gun Club Juniors in conservation projects. The latter planted 1,000 red pine trees in Charlestown. A windbreak was planted by 4-H Club students at Unity Elementary School.
In 1973, the District in partnership with the SCC had created plans for Outdoor Lab and Nature Study areas in 6 community schools in Sullivan County including Plainfield School and Stevens Annex.
A "Youth Group" was formed and progressed by "leaps and bounds" in 1976. It was led by, Greg Root, a 4th grade teacher from Maple Avenue School in Claremont. The Youth Group distributed soil stewardship brochures at local churches. This was done every year during Soil Stewardship Week. This same year, a conservation plan for a nature study area and outdoor laboratory was created for Maple Avenue Elementary. Seems that SCCD has been supporting the creation of outdoor classes for over 40 years!
The District also held an essay contest, and the winner was sent to Youth Conservation Camp. Booklets on conservation were purchased and distributed to all 5th graders in the county. An engineer was on staff with the District and helped to create Newport's recreation area near the school, new runs at Arrowhead, the Cornish school soccer field, the tennis courts at Fall Mountain High School, and helped with draining the Unity Elementary School recreation field! The District assisted with field trial plantings of grasses at Newport High, Stevens Annex, and Bluff Elementary.
The District started recognizing teachers that taught about conservation. In 1976 Stevens Environmental Studies teacher, Lillian Scranton, won the Allis Chalmers Teacher of the Year Award through the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). The District continues recognize teachers through our Educator of the Year Award.
In 2001, the Marshall Pond area in Unity was surveyed for its cultural and educational value. An interpretive nature trail was created there. Today, it is still one of the places we use for education on County Lands.
As you can see, SCCD has been promoting place-based education for all ages since its inception! The way it is done may look a little different now and the audience may have changed a bit, but education has always been the foundation of this Conservation District.