Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Asked to speak about funding streams to maximize the programs, projects and activities of soil and water conservation districts in the southeast states, Betty Jo Tompkins answered with a 74-slide presentation highlighting the work and accomplishments of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District in Florida. (Click box below to download the slideshow.)
"Our aim is to reach people of all ages, in urban, suburban, rural and inner-city communities, to engage in creative efforts to preserve our natural resources," Tompkins said. "With agricultural, business, corporate and government agency support, our mission to educate, not regulate, goes a long way toward addressing the very real and sobering environmental issues we face today, including water quality and food shortages in the years ahead."
The presentation, entitled, "Funding Streams: Maximizing Your District's Potential," covers the work of soil and water conservation districts nationwide, based on their founding premise in the 1930's to address the Dust Bowl emergency, in which severe dust storms greatly damaged the agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies.
In addition to serving as a bridge between local farmers and government funding sources, soil and water conservation districts are led by elected, nonpartisan and non-paid leaders to educate and engage communities in the work of conservation.
"We like to say, and often do, that 'Conservation is everybody's business,' " Tompkins said. "That is why our presentation highlights the work of our communities, both in conceiving and executing action awareness projects and in providing the resources to ensure those projects have a more meaningful and broader reach."
By way of explanation, the slideshow covers the work of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District over the past 12 months, highlighting youth events, including poster, speech, rain barrel decorating and landscape beautification contests; tree-plantings;
U-picks; fair and festival participation; the annual nurserymen-supported plant auction; small business, corporate, governmental agency and agricultural interests support and sponsorships; securing grants; and the annual Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge."
"The challenge, which kicks off again in April 2022, invites individuals, families, schools, businesses, clubs and other groups and organizations to register 'action awareness' projects that showcase the range of things we can do every day in our homes and communities to conserve our natural resources," Tompkins said. "Every year we publish a tabloid that highlights these efforts and other useful information and tips for being good stewards of our air, soil and water."
Click below to view the Hillsborough presentation, which debuted Nov. 10 at the 2021 Southeast Conservation District Employees Association meeting in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Along with Florida, the southeast district of the National Conservation District Employees Association encompasses Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and the Virgin Islands.