The Fred B. Miller, Jr. Regional Envirothon, hosted by the Duval Soil & Water Conservation District, 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.
The program focuses on five areas of study: AQUATICS, FORESTRY, SOILS, WILDLIFE, and CURRENT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES. This year the current environmental issue will focus on Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Future. Winners of the regional competition are sent to the Florida Envirothon. Additionally, an oral presentation will be required at the state level.
See this link for the 2024 updated study guides: Study Guides | floridaenvirothon (flenvirothon.com)
REGISTRATION FOR 2023 IS OPEN!!!
It is $5 per person including supervisors.
This year’s Envirothon will be held on March 7, 2024, at Tree Hill Nature Center, 7152 Lone Star Rd, Jacksonville FL. (Please use the second entrance which is a bit further NE past a small stream.
To participate in this year's Envirothon, please fill out the registration form below.
Note: There is no option to pay online this year, please pay with checks only.
The Duval Soil & Water Conservation District is looking to fill Vacancies on the Board.
If you would like to become more involved with the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District as an elected voting member please submit a statement of interest to email@example.com by February 3rd and attend the Planning Meeting on February 7th at 3:30 PM.
Note: Planning Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Duval County Extension Office, 1010 N. McDuff Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32254, at 3:30 p.m.
Would you like to become more involved with the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District? If so, we have the perfect opportunity for you! The DSWCD is currently accepting applications for new Affiliate members. Our affiliate members play a crucial role within the District by advising our supervisors as well as assisting them in their duties and responsibilities. If you are interested, please fill out our Affiliate Member application below and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited to again host the annual Speech and Poster Contest! The winners of the Duval County Speech Contest receive a cash prize, plus one student will get an invitation to compete regionally and statewide for grades 6-12th. The poster contest is an additional way to compete in the competition for grades K-12.
This year the Speech & Poster Contest will be 100% Virtual. Students must submit their entry online for judging.
The topic for both competitions is "ONE WATER" relating to watersheds. 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 are given to top winners.
Entry Deadline April 17th, 2023 at 11:59 PM. Turn in to the Google Forms Below.
Please download the ENTRY FORMS below.
No electronic signatures
2023 Speech Contest:
First place - $ 50.00
Second place - $ 30.00
Third place - $ 20.00
2023 Poster contest:
Categories - K-1; 2-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12
First place - $ 40.00 for each Category
Second place - $ 20.00 for each Category
Third place - $ 10.00 for each Category
Come celebrate National Agriculture Week and show our First Coast Farmers you care!
Mark your calendars for the inaugural Hug-a-Farmer Spring Market on March 22nd. We've partnered with the Murray Hill Farmers Market to bring you the newest addition to our Start Farming program. Visit each farmer to fill out your passport then show appreciation to our First Coast Farmers by making a paper hug at our card making station. Come out to learn more about the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District and about careers in Agriculture. We'll also be announcing our 2023 Start Farming Mentees.
Most importantly, show up to give thanks to our hardworking farmers!
The Florida Envirothon Committee has developed a Resource Study Guide that is online and readily available to all students and teachers who may be interested in participating in the subject event. Additional materials are available at www.envirothon.org and on the PDF below.
“It's so important that we offer students a comprehensive study of our land, water, wildlife, and current issues while in high school. With the Envirothon competition, kids are competing for a trophy and they get to learn outside. We hope that every high school in Duval County will send a team to the Envirothon”, says Jennifer Casey, former Chairperson for the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District.
See pictures and find resources on the Duval County Envirothon Facebook page.
To learn more or to volunteer, contact Joyce Miller (410) 688-2365 email@example.com or Allen Moore (904) 465-0678 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are now open for the 2023 Start Farming Mentorship program! The goal of the mentorship is to empower Duval County residents with the tools and information necessary to start their own farm or agribusiness. With a mix of in-person workshops, virtual training, and on-site farm tours, mentees will learn about sustainable farming practices, resources available to start a farm and issues in farming practice. The program will take place from March to December 2023. To receive a certificate of completion and invitation to the private closing celebration, mentees must attend at least 80% of programs offered.
Farm tours: Urban Farm, Bio-diverse & Regenerative Farm, Rural Farm, Livestock/Animal Husbandry Farm
In-person workshop: Water Conservation, Soil Health & Composting, Pollinators
Virtual workshops: Business Planning, Understanding the Farm Bill, Cottage Food & Value Added Products
Other: Hug-a-Farmer Day & Spring Market, Start Farming Panel & Holiday Market, Mentorship Closing Celebration
The Start Farming Mentorship program is open to new farmers who reside in Duval County and are interested in starting a farm business. Preference will be given to past attendees of the District’s annual Start Farming events. Applications are only accepted online through this Google Form and must be submitted by March 12, 2023. Please note that there will be a small charge associated with this program. Additional details including event dates will be provided if you are chosen for the mentorship. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at email@example.com
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District was proud to host our 6th annual Start Farming Panel Discussion and Market on December 7th at the Duval County Agricultural Extension. Each year the event features panelists of local farmers and agency representatives that educate the community on ways in which they can get involved in farming. This year the panel discussion included Charlie Harrold of Charley’s Chicks, Brian Lapinski of Down to Earth Farm, Jon Johnson who is a senior forester with the Florida Forest Service and Tonya Ashworth who is the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Extension Agent.
In addition to our amazing panelists, we heard from participants in our Start Farming Mentorship program and enjoyed a holiday market where attendees were able to purchase locally grown produce and plants as well as holiday gift items from local makers and artisans. Guests also enjoyed an amazing dinner from Wild Pie, a 100% plant-based pizza food truck.
Each year the Board recognizes a “Conservation Teacher of the Year” who has demonstrated a strong conservation ethic and has put conservation into action in the classroom. At this year’s event, we were pleased to recognize Norah Betancourt of Stanton College Preparatory School. Norah teaches AP Environmental Science, has a background in biology and loves the outdoors, particularly our national parks. Her students have won our annual poster contest and have participated in our Regeneration Park project, which is our community stewardship project in the Urban Core. We recognize her dedication to helping the next generation preserve and protect our natural resources.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has been advocating for voluntary, locally-led conservation for 70 years. We want to thank the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board for making it possible for us to offer this event annually as a free service to our citizens and our agricultural community!
Jacksonville, Florida - The City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board has awarded the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District (DSWCD) the 2022 Environmental Achievement Award for Regeneration Park. Regeneration Park is a green infrastructure and community stewardship project that is creating a safe space to demonstrate urban agriculture, cultivate environmental stewardship and empower residents to build with nature for social, economic and environmental health.
The Regeneration Park project was established by board member Jennifer Casey after considering the site during a local cleanup in the Durkeeville community. The project has since transformed a half-acre of vacant public land on the west side of Jacksonville’s Urban Core near the Emerald Trail S-Line Link and the Sugar Hill Mosaic. The property had a troubled history, having been contaminated decades ago when used as a rail yard. The City of Jacksonville has since remediated the contamination with an asphalt cap. In December 2020, the DSWCD began working with the COJ Parks and Recreation department to develop an appropriate plan for the site. The mission was to improve the land and positively impact a vulnerable and underserved population, as most of this community are minority residents who have the lowest average income and highest rate of poverty in Duval County.
Having identified an initial funding priority for bringing conservation technical assistance directly to the community’s residents, the DSWCD formed a working group in late 2020 with prospective partners. The Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board, UF/IFAS Duval County Extension, Groundwork Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper, NativeJax, and community organizations provided resolutions, consultations and in-kind support to the project. In March 2021, the DSWCD was awarded a $50,000 urban agriculture conservation grant through a partnership with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This grant fully funded Phase 1 and allowed the DSWCD to employ a part-time urban agriculture coordinator to begin soil regeneration and install green infrastructure including a bioswale and a pollinator habitat.
Beginning in June 2021 and continuing over the next year, conservation and community partners began providing education, research, hands-on conservation, native seed collection, and technical assistance to develop a resilient and sustainable system. The Duval SWCD hosted a celebration of Stewardship Week, quarterly community cleanups, and a series of hands-on green infrastructure workshops on “Building with Nature” to demonstrate permaculture practices that included creating healthy soil from wood chips, installing a pollinator garden to increase biodiversity, and building a bioswale. The workshops focused on the need to build with nature rather than against it. Participation included everyone from neighborhood residents, to cub scout troops, to sailors from the U.S. Naval Air Station. Over 300 volunteers participated in the project spreading mulch and installing plants including UNF Environmental Leader, April Thomas. Her student project included compiling video interviews into a multimedia project. In August 2022, the City of Jacksonville began installation of educational signage that explains the functions of the green infrastructure within the park, concluding Phase 1 of the project.
The DSWCD is committed to offering ongoing educational workshops at Regeneration Park to help remedy decades of persistent environmental inequality which has disproportionately affected poor and minority communities in the urban core. Regeneration Park is directly impacting the wellbeing and quality of life for the cyclists and pedestrians who routinely use the S-Line link of the Emerald Trail as well as the 35,000 people who live within walking distance of Regeneration Park. Research demonstrates that converting vacant lots into community parks increases socialization, improves mental health, and can even reduce crime.
Over time, the impact on the community will be profound! The DSWCD has raised over $127,000 dollars in 18 months and Phase 2 is already underway including the addition of shade trees to reduce urban heat, a pervious pathway to reduce storm water runoff, solar lighting to conserve energy, an ADA accessible sensory garden, and raised beds for growing vegetables. There are thousands of vacant city-owned properties in Duval County. The Regeneration Park project is not only promoting independence to the community through nature, but is a model for resilient pocket park design in Duval County.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District was created in July of 1953 under the authority created by the Soil Conservation Act, passed by Florida Legislature in 1937. The DSWCD is an independent special district organized by concerned citizens of Duval County to help landowners and users to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources. The DSWCD fulfills its responsibilities pursuant to Chapter 580.20, F.S. by placing a priority on planning, implementing and/or facilitating programs, projects and practices that will promote the conservation of our natural resources. The board meets twice a month to hear reports from affiliate agencies, learn about conservation funding priorities in the district, and develop educational programs that meet the needs of conservation within Duval County.
Chimére C. Nieves Pellot, or CC as she is more commonly known, is a Florida native and received her education in Business Operations Management and International Business Administration from UNF. She currently volunteers with the Duval Soil & Water Conservation District to help facilitate our annual Envirothon, a high school environmental sciences competition. She also enjoys lending a hand towards efforts for the Regeneration Park project, an Urban Core environmental stewardship initiative. CC was also selected as a member of the 2021 Start Farming Mentorship cohort.
More About CC:
•She oversees Sourcing Partnerships at Feeding Northeast Florida
•She is a certified Master Herbalist and is currently studying at the apprentice level of the Master Beekeeper program through UF IFAS
•She's an active community volunteer through programming provided locally by Groundwork Jacksonville and the Garden Club of Jacksonville
•She is the Assistant Director at The Garden of Eden Farm, a community garden in the Urban Core of Jacksonville committed to regenerative agricultural practices
•Her knowledge of herbs and expertise in grassroots development positively impacts the field of regenerative agriculture and environmental sustainability through her organization Organic + Green Collective
•Her passions include reading, yoga and activities celebrating nature with her husband and their son