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Matthew's
Education Corner
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June 2023

With June in South Carolina comes the heat and summertime festivities. This is also the signal for the end of school, so classroom educational programs have slowed down. Not to fret though, as with summer storms come plenty of opportunities for rainwater harvesting.  So, at the end of June we hosted a rain barrel workshop at Lexington County Public Works. We had a great turnout where we offered affordable, quality rain barrels and some basic stormwater and rainwater harvesting information. We showed step-by-step how to make rain barrels and important considerations. Prior to the rain barrel workshop, I made a visit to Trenholm Road United Methodist to present the wonders of bees and pollinators to the kids camp. We learned about the bee ‘waggle’; an amazing dance bees use to tell their hive mates the direction of a new food source!

MAY 2023

As the school year comes to a close, I look back at the happenings in May. Beginning with our annual recognition banquet, May was filled with the prospect of summer on the horizon. This also means the completion of our Conservation Education Mini-grants. Our mini-grant winners at Saxe Gotha Elementary, Beechwood Middle, Brookland Cayce, and White Knoll High Schools were awarded their grant reimbursement checks. Thanks to those teachers and schools that applied and participated in the Mini-grant program; it really is great to see the enthusiasm for conservation!   

I also continued to help install garden beds at schools, like at Red Bank Elementary, where we installed pre-made garden boxes. The kids learned the value of hard work with pulling weeds, working as a team to assemble the beds, and then filling them in with soil and compost. The last part of Spring here is still a good time to get some beds installed so that come fall, we can be ready to get those beds going again! Lastly, with the prospect of summer storms, Rain Barrels are a popular water-harvesting tool. So with that being said, I made some barrels for the kids at Piney Woods Elementary in Chapin, as well as for Glenforest School in West Columbia. Rain Barrels are a great, inexpensive way to store water, save money, and prevent run-off.

APRIL 2023

What a busy month April has been! As usual, I have been here and there, out and about, helping to instill conservation ethics. I recently attended McGregor Presbyterian's Earth Day Event in Irmo. I was privileged to present the Enviroscape model to passersby at the event and I got a chance to introduce many folks to Lexington Soil & Water Conservation District's mission and purpose. Next up, I participated in a Rain Barrel Workshop at Beechwood Middle School. The kids got a chance to learn about the importance of stormwater mitigation, as well as some self-sufficiency lessons in making two rain barrels for the school.

As our mini-grant winners wrapped-up their conservation projects, I helped out with last minute garden projects, like at Saxe Gotha Elementary, where we mulched around the garden beds we installed months ago; Man, are they looking good! I also visited the Glenforest School in West Columbia and presented the Enviroscape once again. We talked about watersheds, non-point and point sources of pollution, and I gave some real-world examples of how to keep our water clean. The month wrapped up with the Envirothon at the Clemson REC. So many groups and teams competing for scholarships, all while in the beauty of the outdoors!

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MARCH 2023

March, with the promise of Spring, has already flown by. At Saxe Gotha Elementary, the kids and I planted strawberries. Even better, the plants are right outside their window, so just in case they need a quick snack! At Dutch Fork Elementary, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a science fair judge. There were some fabulous projects; I was really impressed! Meanwhile, down at Forts Pond Elementary, the After-School kids learned about the 'Gifts of the Forest'. I also visited Ms.Tolar at Piney Woods Elementary in Chapin, where we learned about Water Quality and safer cleaning supplies in and around the house. Lastly, I headed over to Brookland Cayce High School to drop off a rain barrel for our previous grant winner, so hopefully her beds can get some good rain water! April promises to be even busier as everything is abuzz with new growth. Happy Spring!

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FEBRUARY 2023

Another month has passed and we are one step closer to spring! February has been bustling with garden bed preparation at Saxe Gotha Elementary School. We installed 3 nice-sized garden beds; one is a lasagna style, the other a traditional soil-compost mix, and the third is a hybrid mix of both. The kids will get to see which one produces the best. 

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Forts Pond Elementary got to see the rainfall simulator and learned why living roots are so important in keeping soil in place and limiting water (and pollutant) runoff. March looks to be even busier with several more garden beds getting started and lots of seedlings almost ready to go in the ground. Spring is right around the corner!

JANUARY 2023

The new year is off and running! Likewise, I've been running around, helping establish garden beds at schools and distributing garden seeds so the beds will have something growing in them. We're also finishing up our Conservation Mini-grants for this period, so we're excited to get the recipients going on their proposed projects- from pollinator beds to garden beds and a "walking classroom", the grants promise to help kids get outdoors and get a little dirt on their hands. I've also been out teaching about the importance of Pollinators to a local FFA chapter and an after-school program. February looks to be just as busy as spring is quickly approaching!  

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