In late July, the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District celebrated their 68th Anniversary on World Conservation Day. Local sponsors, community advocates, and members of the public were all present to celebrate at the Garden Club of Jacksonville. Highlights from the evening included delicious catering from head chef of 13 Gypsies, Kevan Kimball, and drinks from Legacy Kitchen & Catering; words of acknowledgement from the Board of Supervisors; a special guest presentation by Kay Ehas of Groundwork Jacksonville; and a raffle drawing of over 20 different prizes from local community sponsors.
Formed in 1953, the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District was formed to help landowners and users to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources. This year marks the 68th anniversary, as well as the celebration of World Conservation Day. The Board, especially event chair, Ashantae Green, worked diligently to prepare a special event to celebrate the hard work of conservation members in the community.
Each year the Board recognizes a “Conservation Teacher of the Year”. This year, due to the limitations of the pandemic last year, two teachers were recognized for their dedication as educators to the mission of conservation. Aesha Johnson (2021 Awardee), a 4th grade math and science teacher at Jacksonville Beach Elementary, strives to instill conservation efforts and education in her students through her teaching and as chairperson of her school’s annual Family Science Night. Additionally, the student winner of the District’s 2021 poster contest came from her class. Steven Sherrill (2020 Awardee) has been an educator for 26 years, with 16 as the Marine and AP Environmental Science at Sandalwood High School. He was the faculty sponsor of GreenState Environmental Club for 15 years and has been involved in the District’s Envirothon as well as encouraging his students’ involvement in countless other conservation efforts throughout the city. Duval SWCD is delighted to show our appreciation to our outstanding Duval County educators.
Guest speaker, Kay Ehas, CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville shared about the exciting projects Groundwork Jacksonville is championing to help with the development of downtown including the restoration of McCoys Creek, Hogans Creek and the creation of the Emerald Trail. The latter is a 30 mile path that will connect our city's historic urban neighborhoods to downtown and will link schools, colleges and parks. Duval SWCD's innovative Regeneration Park, primarily funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts, is situated along the biodiversity corridor of the Emerald Trail. Kay shared that the important message of Groundwork Jacksonville’s projects was, “not only building trails and restoring creeks, [but] building community.”
Lastly, due in large part to the generous sponsorship of many community organizations, the event raised over $1500.
The District would like to recognize our community sponsors: The Jacksonville Garden Club, Apple Rabbit Compost, Juicy Roots Farm, Legacy Kitchen & Catering, Native Jax, Soil Life Organics, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper. Individual sponsors included: Sebastian Alexander, Will Dunn, and Diane Krug.