With a new school year underway, the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (RSWCD) is again offering opportunities for conservation engagement to K-12 students, teachers and staff. These opportunities will include Conservation Education Mini-Grants, a Youth Conservation Poster Contest, and the annual NCF-Envirothon competition.
Conservation Education Mini-Grants
Richland County public, private and alternative schools are eligible to apply for up to $1,000 in grant funding to support conservation projects and youth environmental education initiatives.
Mini-Grants can be put toward conservation-related student projects, including but not limited to:
- outdoor classrooms
- school gardens
- nature trails
- wildlife habitats
- rain barrels
- composting initiatives
- air quality campaigns
- litter cleanups
The awards are competitive, and proposals will be evaluated on the project’s conservation impact, feasibility, student and community involvement, and educational outcomes. Two award periods (one in spring, one in fall) are available. Mini-Grant applications are due Oct. 2 (for fall funding) and Jan. 22, 2024 (spring funding).
To apply, visit www.richlandcountysc.gov/rswcd.
Youth Conservation Poster Contest
Students in Richland County are encouraged to combine their artistic skills with scientific knowledge for this contest. Participants will create a poster based on the theme “May the Forest Be with You Always.”
County winners will advance to the state contest, with state winners progressing to the national competition. Winners at each level will receive cash prizes.
Posters must be submitted on 14-by-22-inch paper, and the RSWCD can provide up to 24 sheets of 14-by-22-inch poster paper per school for entrants. Attach a completed entry form to the back of each poster. For entry forms, visit www.richlandcountysc.gov/rswcd. Entries are due by April 12, 2024.
Each spring, teams of high school students from around the state gather to compete for scholarships and the opportunity to represent South Carolina at the NCF-Envirothon competition. Envirothon teams are tested on their knowledge of five areas of environmental science (wildlife, forestry, soil science, aquatics, and a current topic) and their performance on an oral presentation. Teams consist of 3-5 students (plus an optional alternate) in grades 9-12.
RSWCD offers incentives to encourage Richland County teams and coaches to participate in the SC Envirothon, including stipends of up to $175 for teams and $500 for team coaches. For more information, visit www.richlandcountysc.gov/rswcd. Dates for registration and training sessions for Envirothon will be released later in the school year on the SC Envirothon website.
“RSWCD is excited to offer these opportunities to support conservation education for local youth,” said Chanda Cooper, conservation education analyst for Richland County. “Research shows these types of hands-on, nature-based educational experiences can increase students’ enthusiasm for learning, support academic success, and improve physical, mental and emotional health.”
PACE Academy students plant cool-season greens in a school garden with the help of Green Step Schools mentor Jennifer Mancke.