Conservation Education a Local Sensation

Students examine tree cross-sections with John Baumchen of the Kiowa-Rita Blanca National Grasslands in New Mexico during the Cimarron County Natural Resources Day.

Local Conservation Districts around the state regularly partner with other organizations to host educational events such as natural resource days, farm tours, and workshops to promote conservation practices and encourage care for natural resources by youth and adults alike. Conservation district partners include the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), OSU and OSU Extension offices, and Noble Foundation. Here are just a few of the great events conservation districts put on or participated in over the last few months:

Cimarron County Outdoor Natural Resources Day
April 22, 2014

Greer County Conservation District staff and Mangum High School Honor Society members with their freshly planted red bud tree.

This year, over 70 fifth and sixth grade students and educators got hands-on with a range of interactive natural resource conservation related exhibits at the Cimarron County Conservation District Outdoor Natural Resources Day. Students learned about prairie predators and prey by examining skins and skulls, discovered variety in Oklahoma soil by painting with it, and even got a lesson on water pressure and electricity.
Contact Cimarron County Conservation District

Harper County Backyard Gardening Program
April 22, 2014

The annual Backyard Gardening Program hosted by Harper County Conservation District and OSU Extension is jam-packed with useful information, DIY solutions, and hands-on training for backyard gardeners ranging in skill from novice to expert. This year attendees learned about pest and rodent control, raised bed construction for flowers and vegetables, and how to be successful when submitting flowers and vegetables to be judged in competition.
Contact Harper County Conservation District

Muskogee Creek Nation Earth Day Festival
April 22, 2014

Don Bartolina, Oklahoma County Conservation District manager, points out interesting finds in a soil pan at ScienceFest Oklahoma.

With the assistance of Hughes County Conservation District, the Muskogee Creek Nation was able to put on their first ever Earth Day Festival. Over 166 people turned up from Holdenville, Henryetta, and Okmulgee to participate in activities and learning exercises all in honor and appreciation of the bounty provided by our Earth. Thanks to a grant from USDA Ouachita Mountains Resource Conservation and Development Program (RC&D), the district will be adding several new educational resource trunks to their inventory, meaning next year’s event can even more effectively educate the public on natural resource conservation.
Contact Hughes County Conservation District

Mangum High School Earth Day Tree Planting
April 24, 2014

Shirley Hudson, Ottawa County Conservation District secretary, leads an activity at Wyandotte Nation Environmental Festival.

In honor of Earth Day, Greer County Conservation District donated a red bud tree to the Mangum High School Honor Society, which was planted in front of the school. The conservation district sought to instruct students on the value of making even small contributions to improve our environment. “The main thing is to take action…Celebrating Earth Day any day can be as simple as carpooling or riding a bike to work, planting a tree, recycling household items, supporting environmental education, and conserving water,” read a statement from the conservation district.
Contact Greer County Conservation District

ScienceFest Oklahoma
April 24, 2014

Every year, nearly 5,000 elementary school students descend on the Oklahoma City Zoo for a full day of interactive science education. Down among the youthful swarm you can also find the Oklahoma County Conservation District booth, always abuzz with the chatter of excited students. This year, the district and partners offered pans of living soil for kids to pick through and explore. More than just dirt, soil contains all sorts of life such as worms, beetles, roots, decaying plant material, and fungus. This life is essential to healthy plant growth and plays an important role in cleaning our water and air as well.
Contact Oklahoma County Conservation District

Wyandotte Environmental Festival
April 25, 2014

Students gather around the stream simulation trailer at the Pawnee Conservation Fair.

Jointly celebrating Earth Day and the first anniversary of the Wyandotte Nation recycling center, the Wyandotte Environmental Festival brought together numerous conservation partners from local, tribal, state and federal organizations, including the Ottawa County Conservation District. The festival featured a number of educational activities focused on natural resource conservation as well as an e-waste collection station for the proper disposal of everything from  cell phones to televisions.
Contact Ottawa County Conservation District

53rd Annual Pawnee Conservation Fair
April 29, 2014

Pawnee County Conservation District’s headline event is all about education through interaction. A petting zoo, puppet show, and free donuts are just a few of the attractions to get elementary and middle school students out for an exciting, educational time.
Contact Pawnee County Conservation District

Kay County Natural Resource Day
May 9, 2014

Susan Henning, Kay County Conservation District manager, puts on a conservation puppet show for elementary schoolers.

For most people, the thought of 191 third graders is a splitting headache waiting to happen. For Kay County Conservation District and partners, that many 3rd graders sounds like an excellent opportunity to educate. At the May 9 natural resource day (the district hosts several per year), partners introduced students to a red tailed hawk from the Oklahoma Falconers Association as well as soil health exhibits, a demonstration of what happens to water after it goes down the drain, and how streams erode over time. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation displayed the skulls and furs of various animals native to Oklahoma and the Heartland Prairie Dutch Oven Cookers gave a tasty demonstration of Dutch oven cooking. Yum!
Contact Kay County Conservation District

71st Annual Creek County Ag Tour
May 15, 2014

Greg Scott, retired NRCS state soil scientist, explains the benefits of healthy soil as the rainfall simulator runs in the background at the Deer Creek Conservation District No-Till Workshop.

The long-running Creek County Ag Tour is a local staple and an important part of Creek County Conservation District’s educational outreach. With everything from steer riding demonstrations to information on conservation programs, cheese making, and a workshop on starting a pecan orchard, this year’s tour was a big hit.
Contact Creek County Conservation District

Deer Creek Conservation District No-Till Workshop
May 15, 2014

If you haven’t seen a live demonstration of the rainfall simulator, you’ve really been missing out. For rural and urban citizens alike, the simulator provides a quick glance at just how important taking care of our soils and landscape is to ensuring future soil, water, and air health. Luckily, the simulator is being shown somewhere new all the time, including the Deer Creek Conservation District No-Till Workshop. Just like the name says, no-till farming is all about not tilling soil, thereby improving soil health, reducing erosion from wind and water, and increasing the soil’s ability to take in and retain water and nutrients. The simulator shows how rainfall behaves on different soil types such as tilled and no-till soil. When rain hits tilled soil, water and nutrient rich topsoil quickly runoff into a collection bucket. On the no-till soil, however, water is absorbed in huge quantities with very little runoff. Sound like magic? Nope, just science!
Contact Deer Creek Conservation District