Richland highlights conservation efforts

As the state gears up to celebrate Soil and Water Stewardship Week, Richland County is spotlighting efforts by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (RSWCD) to preserve the County’s natural resources.

Gov. Henry McMaster declared April 25-May 2 as Soil and Water Stewardship Week in South Carolina. The annual Stewardship Week program highlights locally led efforts to improve soil and water resources. This year’s theme is “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.”

Throughout the week, Richland County has highlighted the RSWCD and its efforts on social media.

The RSWCD works to conserve natural resources through:
• landowner education and technical assistance
• supporting local and sustainable agriculture
• strengthening the Midlands’ food system
• engaging K-12 teachers and students in conservation practices through environmental education

Popular outreach programs by the district include a seed sanctuary, a pollinator garden and farm equipment rentals.

“We all depend on the availability of clean water and air, healthy soils and diverse ecosystems. Conserving these resources is essential for human survival and contributes to economic growth, public health and community resiliency,” said Kenny Mullis, Richland SWCD chairman.

“RSWCD’s efforts to educate the community about the importance of natural resources, and about how we can all be better environmental stewards, will ultimately result in a better quality of life and greater economic potential for Richland County residents,” Mullis said.
Youth education is another key program element, seen through efforts such as school gardens and on-campus conservation projects, classroom presentations and poster contests. Also impactful area programs such as Green Steps Schools, which recognizes institutions that establish sustainability projects; and the SC Envirothon, a competition for high school students.

“Research shows that children who spend time in nature and learn to enjoy and respect natural resources are much more likely to become adults who practice environmental stewardship,” said Chanda Cooper, Richland County Conservation education analyst.

In South Carolina, each soil and water conservation district is governed by a board of five commissioners. The RSWCD is led by Mullis, Jeff Laney (vice chairman), Jim Rhodes (secretary/treasurer), Hemphill Pride III and Mary Burts. Five associate commissioners also serve as advisers and help with program development and implementation.

“Soil and water conservation districts provide local leadership for conservation activities (including education programs), which result in cleaner, more abundant natural resources for everyone,” Cooper said. “The more active the district, the more conservation programs, services and support the district can provide to support local residents and local communities.”

To learn more, visit the RSWCD webpage on Richland County’s website: