The Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District held its Annual Awards Banquet on October 26, 2022 at ESCC Workforce Development Center in memory of Robin Rich-Coates and Fred Holland. Several awards were presented to members of the community in recognition of their conservation efforts.
2022 Conservation Educator Award
Phil Goetkin of Cape Charles received the 2022 Conservation Educator Award for his outstanding commitment to educating and inspiring youth. Phil has been a board member and is the current president of New Roots Youth Garden in Cape Charles. This is an all-volunteer organization that teaches children about gardening and the environment by having them get their hands dirty. New Roots boasts gardening area, a pollinator garden, compost area, and rain barrels. In addition to school year programming, there is programming every Thursday evening during the gardening season where students garden, have an educational lesson, eat the fruits of the labors, sell produce, and take fresh produce home to eat.
Phil is very active in the Master Gardeners and has been the president for the last 3 years and has been on the board for several years. Last spring, Phil was instrumental in helping the District and VA Department of Forestry organize this year’s Arbor Day celebration.
Phil strives to live by the mission of the National Park Service which is to preserve the natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. Thank you Phil for the many contributions you have made to education and the environment on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
2022 Conservation Forester Award
The Conservation Forester Award recognizes someone who goes above and beyond to enhance forest health, wildlife habitat, and to protect water quality. Nominated by the VA Department of Forestry Area Office, this year’s recipient is Bill Dougherty of Hack’s Neck.
Bill has worked closely with the Virginia Department of Forestry to manage forest stands on his property which is situated at the mouth of Nandua Creek. An in-depth Forest Stewardship plan was written to help guide forest management efforts in thinning a mid-rotation age loblolly pine stand, establishing new loblolly stands in old agricultural field sites, and establishing riparian buffers. While conducting these practices Bill has experimented with various planting methods and techniques to improve seeding and nursery stock survival, and benefit stand growth.
Bill’s tract received a stewardship forest designation and is a certified Tree Farm. We commend Bill for his outstanding accomplishments in forestry conservation and management. Congratulations.
2022 Conservation Farmer Award
Each year the District acknowledges a local farmer who regularly applies best management practices to improve water quality and promote soil and water conservation. This year, the District’s 2022 Conservation Farmer Award is presented to Mark Newman of Eastville.
Mark farms over 2,000 acres and is a 4th generation farmer. He grows primarily corn and soybeans. He maintains a current nutrient management plan and participates in the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost Share program which is administered by the ESSWCD. Mark grows primarily winter rye as a cover crop. He uses minimal tillage practices and equipment as well as low drift spray nozzles to more accurately apply nitrogen to his crops. He maintains buffers along drainage ditches to reduce soil and nutrient loss. Mark is concerned about ag conservation and is proactive in implementing beneficial improvements to his farming operation.
Thank you Mark for your tireless conservation efforts!
2022 Wildlife Conservationist Award
Each year ESSWCD recognizes someone who works with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to enhance wildlife habitat and to protect water quality. This year’s Wildlife Conservationist Award, nominated by USDA NRCS Accomack Office, is presented to David Rew for his outstanding efforts in wildlife conservation and management.
Working in conjunction with NRCS and Private Land Biologist Bob Glennon, David has planted five acres of upland pollinator habitat to attract pollinating insects and to serve as an ecosystem for other wildlife including songbirds. He recently planted 1.8 acres of pollinator habitat in an area that is prone to salt water flooding as an experiment. The information gathered in this plot may help to pioneer solutions for other salt prone fields that are subject to erosion.
The Wildlife Conservationist Award recognizes David for his contribution in establishing and maintaining valuable habitat to support our Eastern Shore wildlife. Congratulations David!022 Wildlife Conservation Award to David Rew.
2022 Conservation Stewardship Award
This year the District created a new award to acknowledge a deserving landowner who participated in the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) to improve water quality on the Eastern Shore. This year, the District’s 2022 Conservation Stewardship Award is presented to John Malbon.
John contacted the District in February of 2020 with an interest in constructing living shoreline on his historic property located along Occohannock Creek near Belle Haven. Working with a local consultant, plans were drawn and applications were made to construct a 520 linear foot rock sill structure with five foot breaks every 100 feet. The breaks would be protected by coir logs to slow the initial tidal surges. Spartina Alterniflora (native marsh grass) would be planted behind the sill to establish a living shoreline and reduce the erosion issues. A total of 470 feet of the project was cost shared through VCAP, the balance John planted on his own.
However, the initial plantings were a little slow to establish and provided a tasty treat for the local geese population. Some portions of the initial plantings had to be replanted in 2021 to get a proper stand. At that point, the project had been in place for one year and positive changes were occurring along the re-established living shoreline.
During the most recent spot check conducted this past June, it was apparent that the replanting’s had taken hold and this living shoreline was in great condition and functioning as it should. The District would like to recognize John and award him with this Conservation Stewardship Award for his monumental efforts in establishing this Living Shoreline practice. Congratulations!
Nick Thomas, ESSWCD Board Chair(Left), presents John Malbon with the 2022 Conservation Stewardship Award.
2022 Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Clean Water Farm Award
The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have 11,684 miles of shoreline—more than the entire U.S. west coast. Approximately 51 billion gallons of water flow into the Bay each day. It is important we all do our part to keep our waterways clean so we are pleased to recognize farmers who are good stewards of our soil and water resources. The Clean Water Farm award, is a State award sponsored by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, given to Virginia farmers who implement nutrient management plans and are exemplary in their protection of the State’s soil and water resources. This year’s Clean Water Farm Award is presented to Jim Evans.
Jim grows primarily corn, soybeans, wheat and string beans on his 2,297 acre farm. Partnering with another producer, he now farms an additional 1,700 acres. He maintains a current Nutrient Management Plan on all his acreage and uses plant tissue and soil testing to determine exactly what nutrients are needed and when, so he can limit runoff. He annually participates in the cover crop program administered by the ESWCD, planting wheat and barley cover crops to protect soil and water quality over the winter. Jim uses no-till and strip-till systems to limit the amount of soil tillage. Fertilizer is applied with fertilizer applicators that use precision technology to apply the right products at the right rates and at the right times, so nutrient use is accurate and efficient.
Jim is very conscientious about ag conservation and tries to implement beneficial improvements to his farming operation. Every farmer would like to improve his bottom line, but he takes it a step farther in an effort to improve the quality of his farming environment for future generations. With conservation in mind, he planted two acres of pollinator habitat through the NRCS Conservation Stewardship program. This plot was planted to attract local pollinating insects and serve as an ecosystem for other wildlife.
This year, Jim was featured in the Virginia Agriculture 2022 edition. The opening sentence of the article is a quote from Jim, “While many of the State’s diverse agricultural growers are mindful of their roles in protecting the soil and water in the region, some rise to the top as leaders in demonstrating the value and effectiveness of conservation practices.”
Jim has served as a Director on the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District Board since 2008 and this year is now also serving as Board Vice-Chair. The staff and Board of Eastern Shore SWCD feel Jim is well deserving of this award and is a model steward of the land.