Ag officials host media day



Aboard the Ag in Action mobile learning lab cotton picker (from left to right) are Jimmy Tucker, soil conservation technician with the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS); Mark Butler, watershed coordinator with the Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD); Polly Morris, district administrative coordinator with SWCD; and Merry Gaines, district conservationist with NRCS.

Aboard the Ag in Action mobile learning lab cotton picker (from left to right) are Jimmy Tucker, soil conservation technician with the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS); Mark Butler, watershed coordinator with the Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD); Polly Morris, district administrative coordinator with SWCD; and Merry Gaines, district conservationist with NRCS.

Last month, the Blount County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) hosted a media day at the USDA Service Center in Oneonta. During the event, employees discussed the impacts of the organization and the steps that have been taken to reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, and solve other resource problems.

These improvements have been a direct result of the SWCD or NRCS function and programs including but not limited to State Cost-Share, for financial and technical assistance; Environmental Quality Incentives Program, for assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as air and water quality; and Conservation Stewardship, to help agricultural producers who are good stewards maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation concerns.

Some projects discussed during the event included cross fencing, water facilities, improvements to heavily-trafficked areas, and pond construction for Blount County farms.

In addition to the programs and projects, the SWCD and NRCS also support the community with educational programs such as the Ground Water Festival for fourth-graders, a portable Soil Tunnel for children to crawl through and see what lies beneath their feet, and the Ag in Action Trailer which was available for viewing during the media day.

Described as an agricultural learning lab on wheels, this enclosed trailer offers an agricultural touch-screen learning station inside as well as the chance to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to be in a cotton picker. The lab will be available for schools throughout the area to allow students from kindergartners to middle schoolers the opportunity to see agricultural life in a different light. Blount County will share the lab or “mobile classroom” with Etowah, Cherokee, St. Clair, DeKalb, and Marshall counties.

For more information on programs, projects, or the Ag in Action learning lab, call Polly Morris at 274-2363 or email polly.morris@blountswcd.net.