COLUMBIA, S.C. — Students and teachers at several local schools will receive support for conservation education initiatives through the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Education Mini-Grants and the City of Columbia’s Clean Stream Columbia Awards. Together, these awards provide up to $1,000 per project to support efforts such as school gardening, water quality education, soil health, waste reduction, energy conservation, and more.
Fall 2017 award recipients are:
|Heathwood Hall Episcopal School||Composting at Heathwood Hall||Donnie Bain||$1,000 Conservation Education Mini-Grant|
|Dent Middle School||After the Flood: Comparing Water Quality in Rainwater vs. Carys Lake following the Reintroduction of the Dam||Rachel Tustin||$500 Conservation Education Mini-Grant;|
|Richland Two Institute of Innovation||Sustainable Food and Energy Solutions||Kirstin Bullington and Michael Ann Fitch||$500 Conservation Education Mini-Grant|
|SC Youth Challenge Academy||SC Youth Challenge Young Farmers Project||Neicy I. Roberts||$500 Conservation Education Mini-Grant|
|Meadowfield Elementary School||The Preservation Garden||Jamie Browder||$500 Clean Stream Columbia Award|
At Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, a $1,000 Conservation Education Mini-Grant will support a schoolwide commercial composting initiative. “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste is the number one item thrown away by Americans, accounting for 21.6 percent of the nation’s waste in 2014,” says Donnie Bain, Director of Columbia Connections at Heathwood Hall. “Composting […] helps address this real-world issue and helps to instill a sense of environmental stewardship in our students.” Heathwood Hall students will partner with City Roots (a local urban farm), ReSoil (a local commercial composting facility), and SMART Recycling (a food waste and organics hauling company) to compost food waste from the school’s kitchen and dining hall. Throughout the process, they will learn about the science of composting, the issue of food waste, and how they “can make a difference and have a positive effect on the environment,” says Bain.
At Meadowfield Elementary School, a $500 Clean Stream Columbia Award—available to support projects that promote, protect, or improve water quality at schools located in the City of Columbia—will support water quality education and stormwater management in The Preservation Garden. The Preservation Garden, an initiative spearheaded by teacher Jamie Browder, intends to involve prekindergarten students in the preservation of at-risk foods while helping them learn “ecological principles like conservation, sustainability, biodiversity, and human-nature interdependency.” With support from the Clean Stream Columbia Award, “students will [be] producing and preserving at-risk foods, composting organic materials (leaves and fruits), and harvesting rainwater” with rain barrels. Students will learn about how rainwater harvesting benefits the environment and their garden.
Other awards will support water quality investigations at Dent Middle School, a Young Farmers Program at the SC Youth Challenge Academy, and student investigations in bioenergy, composting, and local food production at the Richland Two Institute of Innovation. “The (Richland Soil and Water Conservation) District is blessed to have the opportunity to fund these school projects,” says District Commissioner Jeff Laney. “Educating our youth on the importance of water quality, agriculture, and conservation is not only part of our mission, it’s vital to our continued success and growth as a community.”
Faculty and staff members of all Richland County schools are eligible to apply for Conservation Education Mini-Grants, and schools located within Columbia’s city limits are also eligible to apply for Clean Stream Columbia Awards. The next application deadline is February 2, 2018. More details are available online at www.rcgov.us/rswcd.
— Richland County South Carolina
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