The second annual Start Farming: Panel Discussion and Farmers Market featured Duval County Farmers showcasing both products and guidance to the public. This event began as a way to glean insight from the farmers in our county that have gone through the challenge of starting a farming endeavor. Panelists in our 2018 event also featured insight from Natasha Parks, lead for the Homestead Entrepreneurs program at Duval County IFAS, helping residents navigate the laws and requirements behind selling homemade products.
The 2018 panelists included Freddie Bacon, Bacon's Select Produce; Michael Leach, Bee Friends Farm; Val Herrmann, White Harvest Farms & Farmers Market; and Natasha Parks, Homestead Entrepreneurs, Duval IFAS.
Bacon's Select Produce discussed their long standing participation in local farmers markets and how that helped provide name recognition for networking with local chefs and restaurants. Michael Leach of Bee Friends Farm discussed their unique land use needs. Bee hives can be transported from area farms and help pollinate ag areas while creating several varieties of local honey. Bee Friends offers several products made from bees including pollinator services. Val Herrmann of White Harvest Farm discussed their most recent activities to convert the farm into organic production. This transition is facilitated by a conservation grant from the NRCS. Natasha Parks discussed the many things graduates of her Homestead Entrepreneurs courses have learned and how upcoming courses can help those interested in understanding the laws that govern at home food production.
The farmers market portion of the event was a time for farmers, potential farmers, and the public to ask questions from agency personnel that offer conservation funding assistance to growers and producers. We had representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service - Florida (NRCS-USDA), Duval County Agricultural Extension, and information from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD).
Learn more about the Duval County farmers making a difference in both urban and rural parts of the district in local, sustainable food production today. #golo #jaxsoilandwater
Outdoors, lawn and landscape irrigation accounts for more than half of all residential water use. If everyone skipped one week of irrigation this season, it could save nearly 1 billion gallons of water.
During cooler months in fall and winter, your lawn doesn’t need watering every week. It’s the best time to train your yard to need less water. So, only water your lawn every other week — and only if it needs it.
Too much irrigation…
The poster contest is an additional way to compete in the competition for grades K-12. The topic for both competitions is "Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper" and speeches are to be no more than 5-7 minutes. Independent research on the topic works to further educate students in conservation and natural resources, while public speaking provides a host of additional benefits. Artistic skills are called on for the poster contest, and all ages are encouraged to participate. Cash prizes for top winners!
Learn more with this guide (including where to send your entry forms).
We hope that you, a friend, a relative, or a student you know will consider entering in the 2019 annual
Joe B. Forshee, Jr. Speech Contest and Poster Contest for Duval County.
The Fred B. Miller, Jr. Regional Envirothon is a problem-solving, natural resource education program for high school students. This annual competition is a field-oriented program in which student teams learn to use critical thinking skills to answer written questions or conduct hands-on investigations about environmental issues.
If you are unfamiliar with the Envirothon, this event isn't new. We are proud to help bring this educational competition to Duval and surrounding counties for more than 20 years with the help of volunteers and agency leaders! If you are a student, parent or teacher interested in this event, we hope you will consider reaching out to us for details. This event is ideal for high school science, environmental science, forestry, agriculture or wildlife courses. Assemble a team of 5-7 students and register today. We will provide you with online guides AND in classroom resource professionals (the earlier you sign up and schedule - the better) to help learn in each of the resource categories.
Learn more about last year's winners on our website or the Duval County Envirothon Facebook page for links and pictures. Registration is $5 per participant, and requires 7 team members and 1 adviser for a total of $40. It includes one boxed lunch per person and access to electronic and in person resources.
Dr. Scott Sowell, center, being recognized at the 2018 Jacksonville Environmental Symposium
In 2018, the Duval Soil & Water Conservation District launched its Conservation Teacher of the Year award. This award recognizes the work of any K-12 teacher in Duval County who has been involved in both education and action during the past year. The ideal candidate is a principled conservationist who educates students on natural resource conservation practices and initiates student action in their community or school in order to improve quality of life for Duval County residents. All Duval County teachers who have participated in one of the District’s programs during the last year will be considered for recognition as our Conservation Teacher of the Year.
In 2018, the District has excitedly chosen Dr. Scott Sowell for our inaugural award!
Dr. Scott P. Sowell is an Environmental Science Teacher at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School here in Duval County. Over the past 17 years, Dr. Sowell has demonstrated leadership, professionalism, and commitment to protecting the environment by helping young people understand and gain a deep appreciation for our natural resources. His innovative teaching methods and his love for helping students to learn about how things work in nature has earned him recognition among his peers and in the community.
In 2012, Dr. Sowell was named Florida Blue Teacher of the Year. He places the experience before the lecture so that his students create their own learning by exploring real-life scientific situations. In 2016 Dr. Sowell worked with a small team of students who took First Place in the Annual Fred B. Miller Envirothon hosted by the Duval Soil & Water Conservation District. In 2017, Dr. Sowell was named "Educator of the Year" from St. Johns Riverkeeper for his work in algae eutrophication experiments with his AP Environmental Science students.
Along with being named the “2018 Conservation Teacher of the Year”, we also nominated Dr. Sowell for the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board's Individual Environmental Achievement award, which he also won. Congratulations to Dr. Sowell, and thank you for your dedication to the environment through education.
To learn more about our Conservation Teacher of the Year award, click HERE.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has 5 voting Supervisor positions who serve at-large to all 918 square miles and ~913,000 people of Duval County with no political affiliation. The seats are numbered, Group 1-5. Every 2 years, a staggered amount of seats are open for re-election. In 2016, Group 2 and 4 were on the ballot. Supervisors Hunter Anderson (2) and Nelson Greene (4) were elected and sworn into office. Nelson Greene resigned in 2017 and his vacated seat was filled through a majority vote of Supervisors by Affiliate Member, Ed Wright in January 2018.
In November of 2018, Groups 1, 3 and 5 are on the ballot. The seats are currently held by Allen Moore (1), Shannon Blankinship (3), and Dan Evans Jr. (5). Shannon and Dan are both not seeking reelection, while Allen Moore has filed to run for a second term in Group 1.
CANDIDATES IN GROUP 1 ARE: Stephen Doty, Binod Kumar, Allen L. Moore & Dewitt Robinson
CANDIDATES IN GROUP 3 ARE: Sel Buyuksarac, Jennifer Casey & Russell Pelle
CANDIDATES IN GROUP 5 ARE: Robert M. Abene & James Cook
The following information below has been provided by each candidate.
GROUP 1, STEPHEN DOTY
Stephen Doty earned his Bachelors of Arts in Marketing/Business Management from the University of Montevallo. He moved to Jacksonville in 2003 to pursue a career in law. He graduated from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2006. For the past ten years, Mr. Doty has been a practicing family law and consumer law attorney. He fights for the individual he represents in his law practice, and wants to fight to protect and conserve Florida land and water resources. Furthermore, Stephen understands the importance of educating the Duval County residents on the resources available for and land water conservation through the various local, state, and federal environmental agencies. In his spare time, he connects with the community by serving on the School Advisory Council for Wolfson High School.
GROUP 1, ALLEN L. MOORE
I am Allen L. Moore, candidate for the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District (Duval SWCD) Board of Supervisors - Group 1.
I have been an active supporter, assistant and advisor to Soil and Water Conservation Districts, throughout the State of Florida (approximately 14 different counties). My affiliations have been as a Soil Scientist, Soil Conservationist and District Conservationist, as an employee of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In these positions, I provided administrative and technical assistance in the planning and implementation of programs and projects that facilitated the conservation of the natural resources, in the associated areas. During my employment with the NRCS. I also served as a Supervisor, Manager, Trainer, Recruiter, and Mentor of the employees, under my supervision. I also served as a Trainer for new Conservation District Board Members and as a Trainer and Supervisor of employees of the associated Districts, including the Duval SWCD.
I was appointed to the Duval SWCD Board, by the existing Board members, in September 2017 and elected as Chairman of the Board, in January 2018, because of my dedication, vast experiences and qualifications. Your Vote and Support, on November 6, 2018, will be greatly appreciated.
GROUP 3, SEL BUYUKSARAC
Sel Buyuksarac, the son of two retired teachers, has been passionate about education his entire life. He turned that passion into his career by co-founding River City Science Academy, the first charter school in Duval County to be granted an “A” grade by the Florida Department of Education. If elected to serve on the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District, Sel will use his passion and career to further promote DSWCD’s education programs and he will provide a unique perspective to increase their success. Sel wishes for the Jacksonville community to be responsible stewards of the environment and our natural resources so that future generations can enjoy them as much as we do. Visit my Facebook page or website to learn more.
GROUP 3, JENNIFER CASEY
As the granddaughter of farmers, I want to continue their legacy of environmental stewardship. I grew up on the Westside and now live in North Jacksonville with my husband of 19 years and our three children. I have a M.A. in Instructional Design and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Florida and have taught at Jacksonville schools for the last seven years.
My experience as an educator will help me fulfill the District’s primary mission of educating the community about conservation, improvement and sustainability. I will introduce conservation education programs for elementary students. I also support improving the existing educational programs, the Start Farming Panel and Farmers Market, and the local working groups which bring together agricultural and natural resources interests in Duval County.
I have served numerous community organizations and have directed summer outreach programs for children for the last 15 years. I’m endorsed by the Sierra Club, a member of the St. Johns Riverkeeper, and a current volunteer for Duval Soil & Water Conservation District. You can trust me to dedicate myself to the responsibility of non-salaried elected office and to work alongside elected officials and civic leaders to preserve our beautiful natural resources for future generations. Visit www.votejennifercasey.com to learn more. Or find me on Facebook @caseyforsoilandwater and Twitter @JenniferCaseyFL.
GROUP 5, ROBERT M. ABENE
As an educator and active participant in community activities, I am very interested in being elected to Group 5 of the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District. When I was President of Marian University, I organized a group of students, faculty and staff to clear out garbage from the wetlands and forested area adjacent to the University to protect that environment and its many animals; and with the help of the Audubon Society and other donors, a nature educational center for the community was developed.
I strongly believe that the water and land that all creatures including us live on must be protected. I also believe that educating our young and all of us on the importance of conservation is extremely necessary for the continued development of Duval’s present and future community. My current and past professional involvement can be reviewed on LinkedIn.
GROUP 5, JAMES COOK
Mr. James Cook is from Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr. Cook has resided in Jacksonville, Florida for 13 years. Mr. Cook obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice from Edward Waters College. Also, Mr Cook obtained an Masters of Science degree from Everest University. Currently, Mr. Cook works as a Security Officer. During Mr. Cook’s collegiate tenure at Edward Waters College, Mr. Cook joined the Social Intergration committee. During the tenure of the committee, Mr. Cook seen that the environment that surrounds Jacksonville needs help. Also, during the infancy of the New Town Success Zone, Mr. Cook was a part of handing out surveys for the communities that surrounded Edward Waters College. Mr. Cook observed what a change can do to a person confidence or hope after explaining the mission of the surveys and the purpose of the organization. Mr. Cook decided to step up and become a candidate for change with the environment and promote environmental equality for all citizens here in the communities of Jacksonville, Florida. Mr. Cook believes that soil and water is a necessity for growth and sustainability of our environment. Therefore, our actions that we implement today will help Jacksonville for years to come.
Contact James with any questions you have about his campaign for Duval Soil and Water, Group 5.
Email; (904) 329-6547; cookforsoilandwater.com; Facebook @jamescookforcleanwater
To have a healthy and active Soil and Water Conservation District, a competitive and functioning election process is critical. None of the statements within this post should be interpreted as an endorsement or seeking favor. Thank you for the time, and looking into each candidate.
As teachers are heading back to school and planning their curriculum, they may want to check out the Blue School Grant program offered by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The District plans to offer up to $20,000 during the third year of the program. Up to $2,000 per teacher, per school will be awarded to middle and high school teachers to enhance student knowledge of Florida’s water resources. Public and charter school teachers within the district’s boundaries are eligible to apply. Four types of grants will be available — water quality field study, water conservation garden project, water conservation classroom/community awareness, and freshwater resources educational program.
Check out some of the awesome programs funded in 2017, including a water quality study on two local creeks at Creekside High School, St. Johns County; aquaponics at Galaxy Middle School, Volusia County; a landscaping project to increase water efficiency at Wilkinson Jr. High School, Clay County; and a literature class learning about water conservation and the future of water resources in Florida at South Lake High School, Lake County.
Application deadline is Sept. 7, 2018, at 5 p.m. Winners announced Oct. 1. There were no Duval County applicants in 2017. Lets change that this year! Click here for the grant application and details.
This year's Envirothon was held at Lake Fretwell Park. We hosted an overall competition and recognized winners in both Duval and Nassau County.
1st Place Overall Winner is Angry Avocados from Darnell Cookman Middle/High School. Congrats!
2nd Place Overall Winner is Team Dasher from Darnell-Cookman Middle/ High School School of The Medical Arts
3rd Place Overall Winner is Schlump Conforrestry from Sandalwood High School
In Nassau County:
1st Place Winner is Team Ice, from Hilliard High School.
In each category, here are the top winners:
Soils - Team Berkelium from Bishop Kenny High School
Aquatic Ecology - Team Angry Avocados from Darnell-Cookman Middle/ High School School of The Medical Arts
Wildlife - Angry Avocados from Darnell-Cookman Middle/ High School School of The Medical Arts
Forestry - Team Dasher from Darnell-Cookman Middle/ High School School of The Medical Arts
Current Environmental Issue - Rangeland Best Management Practices - Schlump Conforrestry from Sandalwood High School
To all of the teams that competed - Great Work! We hope you will decide to join us again next year. For any teachers or schools wanting more information about the event and competition, we encourage you to visit Duval County Envirothon's Facebook page which will have contact information, resources, and 2019 event information when it becomes available.
Last, Thanks to our sponsors, including the family of Fred B. Miller Jr. for helping support this year's event.
Introduced by Council Member Newby:
A RESOLUTION HONORING AND COMMENDING THE DUVAL SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT IN CELEBRATING SOIL AND WATER STEWARDSHIP WEEK 2018; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
WHEREAS, The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District Board (SWCD) was created in September of 1953 under the authority created by the Soil Conservation Act, passed by Florida Legislature in 1937. The Duval SWCD was organized by concerned citizens of Duval County to help landowners and users to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources. The current mission of the District is to plan, facilitate, and implement programs, projects, and practices that help conserve the natural resources throughout Duval County; and
WHEREAS, in 1955, the National Association of Conservation Districts began a national program to encourage Americans to focus on stewardship. The Stewardship Program relies on conservation districts sharing and promoting stewardship and conservation through field days, educational programming, and workshops to educate citizens about the need to care for our natural resources; and
WHEREAS, Stewardship Week is celebrated from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in May. In addition, it is recognized as one of the world’s largest conservation-related observances. The activities during the week help to remind us all of the power each person has to conserve natural resources and improve the world. When everyone works together with their local conservation district, that power continuously grows; and
WHEREAS, the Board, which consists of 5 non-partisan elected supervisors who serve at-large, is celebrating the 63rd National Observance Week throughout the county and promoting its annual speech and poster contest for all students 6th – 12 grade. The theme for this year is “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home”. Water is one of our most precious resources. Watersheds supply water for drinking and recreation, irrigation and manufacturing, and wildlife and bird habitat. It is essential that each of us adopts good water conservation habits so that we can keep our water resources safe and productive now and for future generations; now therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Jacksonville:
Section 1. The City of Jacksonville hereby honors and commends the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District Board on their work and commitment to the citizens of Duval County to conserve, improve and sustain its natural resources, and encourages all residents to participate in the Stewardship Program activities.
Section 2. Effective Date. This Resolution shall become effective upon signature by the Mayor or upon becoming effective without the Mayor's signature.
WHEREAS, water is a basic and essential need of every living creature; and
WHEREAS, The State of Florida, Water Management Districts and Duval Soil and Water Conservation District are working together to increase awareness about the importance of water conservation; and
WHEREAS, Duval County and the State of Florida has designated April, typically a dry month when water demands are most acute, Florida’s Water Conservation Month, to educate citizens about how they can help save Florida’s precious water resources; and
WHEREAS, Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has always encouraged and supported water conservation, through various educational programs and special events; and
WHEREAS, every business, industry, school and citizen can make a difference when it comes to conserving water; and
WHEREAS, every business, industry, school and citizen can help by saving water and thus promote a healthy economy and community; and
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that by virtue of the authority vested in me as Chairman, Allen Moore of the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District do hereby proclaim the month of April as
Water Conservation Month
NOW, THEREFORE, the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District hereby proclaims the month of April 2018 as Water Conservation Month.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District is calling upon each resident, visitor and business to help protect our precious resource by practicing water conservation measures and becoming more aware of the need to conserve water.
Allen L. Moore, Chairman
PASSED AND ADOPTED this 1st day of April 2018.
Author, Shannon Blankinship
Chairman, Duval Soil and Water Conservation District