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Conservation Starts with Education

By Jocelyn Benjamin, Natural Resources Conservation Service


Conservation Education image

Every day, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to make improvements on working lands that help soil, water, air and wildlife while ensuring the lands remain productive and resilient.  But they can’t do it alone. Teachers, students and the general public can do their part to help conserve our natural resources, too.

Many of us have learned about why we need bees and other pollinators or the importance of clean rivers and streams, whether during our careers, in a classroom or simply by chance. But every day, agricultural producers apply these lessons and see the benefits blossom on their land, right in front of their eyes. That’s why many producers use farming practices that help improve the natural resources on their land. From taking steps to ensure fertilizer and manure stay on the farm and out of our waterways, to helping attract pollinatoproducers are doing their part and you can, too.

This month, as students across the country head back to class, we’re highlighting the education behind conservation. On our website and social media platforms, we will showcase conservation efforts that are helping to improve our natural resources in the areas of forest health, pollinator health, healthy watersheds, organic farming and soil health.

You’ll learn why it’s important to manage forests sustainably to maintain important benefits to the economy, human populations and wildlife. Sustainable forest practices are helping forest landowners profit from timber production while encouraging vigorous plant communities that support an array of wildlife, including game and non-game species.

Our #ConservationClassroom campaign will also bring you ways to support pollinators like bees, butterflies, bats and beetles in the schoolyard. Did you know that building a bee box or native plant box in a classroom window can support pollinator health? Bee boxes can serve as a nursery for bee eggs, and the native plant boxes can provide habitat for other pollinators. Both the bee and native plant boxes are essential to improving pollinator health.

Also, keep an eye out for tips on how we can work together to keep our watersheds healthy. In case you didn’t know, a watershed is the land that water flows across or under, on its way to a stream, river or lake. You’ll learn that everything we do in our watersheds affects our natural resources and the larger watersheds people depend on downstream. Bet you didn’t know that more than 18 million people from 50 cities alone depend on the Mississippi River for their daily water supply – that’s why it’s important to keep our watersheds in tip-top shape. So we are going to leave you with a few tips on how to help keep your watersheds clean at home, in your community and on the farm.

Later in the month, you’ll get the scoop on organics and the dirt on soil. We’ll help you understand why organic farming has become one of the fastest growing segments in agriculture. More and more farmers are growing organic to help meet rising consumer demands for healthy foods that are sourced through farms that are using conservation tools like high tunnels or weed and pest management to farm with nature instead of against it. We’ll provide you with resources to help you with your organic or transitioning to organic farming operation.

And with healthy food comes healthy soil, which is the foundation of organic farming. We’ll share the knowledge you’ll need to get your soil healthy and maintain it through.  Our Soil Health Nuggets on Twitter – look for tidbits like why tillage or plowing can destroy your soils structure, or what President Thomas Jefferson knew about soil that we didn’t. You’ll also see soil health tips for landowners from Barry Fisher, nationally recognized soil health specialist with NRCS. Plus, our #SoilHealthABCs will provide you with more than enough practices that fit the condition of soil on your land.

So make sure to join us this month for the #ConservationClassroom – where conservationists across the nation are enrolling to help give our land a better future.