Concerning Conservation Wake Soil and Water Conservation District ~ Fall 2023

Farmers & Producers

Cost Share Program Update

The Wake Soil and Water Conservation District received its annual cost share allocation from the NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation in August to assist with nonpoint source pollution control from agricultural activities. $90,166 in cost share funds were allocated to Wake SWCD, almost all of which have been encumbered on 16 conservation projects.

These funds will assist producers installing conservation practices to reduce the amount of sediment, phosphorous, nitrogen and other pollutants entering surface and ground water resources in our state. Wake SWCD has applied for addition funds from the State, and those allocations will be announced in late November 2023.

Landowners and operators of existing agricultural operations may apply for cost share assistance to install conservation practices such as grassed waterways, cropland conversion, cover crop, livestock exclusion and many more. Contact our office for more information.

phone: (919) 250-1051 | email: swcd@wake.gov | website: wake.gov/swcd

Conservation Spotlight:

Cropland Conversion to Grass


The Wake Soil and Water Conservation District staff work with farmers to convert low producing crop fields to permanent grass for either hay production or to establish pasture for livestock. The benefits of this conservation practice include reduced soil erosion, sedimentation, and nutrient runoff to nearby streams. The photos above show a project that the technical staff recently completed with a farmer converting a 20-acre crop field to coastal bermuda hay. An estimated 90 tons of sediment was saved from entering a nearby stream by converting this crop field to permanent grass.

If you would like assistance with cropland conversion to grass, or addressing other conservation needs on your farm, contact our office to speak with one of our knowledgeable Natural Resource Conservationists.

phone: (919) 250-1051 | email: swcd@wake.gov | website: wake.gov/swcd

Big Sweep

Fall Season in Full Swing

Despite a season of rainy Saturdays, Big Sweep events have forged ahead. Here is a sneak peak at some of the work taking place in our communities this Fall:

Top Left: Amgen HLP; Top Right: Lake Johnson; Bottom Left: Crabtree Creek Paddle; Bottom Right: Millbrook Exchange Park

A full report on the Fall Season will be included in the winter newsletter. Thank you to the amazing partners that make Big Sweep possible, including Heidelberg Materials Inc, City of Raleigh Greenways, Cape Fear River Adventures, and Wake County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space.

And a giant thank you the Big Sweep Volunteers. Big Sweep plays an important role in watershed protection by keeping Wake County’s waterways litter-free, ecologically viable, and safe for drinking or other designated water uses. If this mission is important to you, consider volunteering for a Big Sweep. The Fall Season is coming to close, but there will be plenty more opportunities come spring.

Stay connected with Big Sweep:

Report a littered area

If you know of an area in Wake County that has trash deposits and could use a dedicated team to clean it, then please reach out to Big Sweep Coordinator Alex Heinemann at alexandra.heinemann@wake.gov.


Poster Contest Underway

The Living Soil 2024 Conservation Poster Contest banner was created by Wake County Communications.

Students in 4th and 5th grades are hard at work, combining their creative and scientific skills to learn about the ecosystem in North Carolina through the “The Living Soil” conservation poster contest. This annual statewide educational competition has seen many Wake County students win big at the regional and state levels! The contest is sponsored by the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and Novozymes North America, Inc., a global biotechnology company based in North Carolina.

For this year’s theme of, “The Living Soil”, students aim to create informative and colorful posters that answer one or more the following questions:

  • How is the soil a living ecosystem?
  • How are the organisms that live in the soil interconnected to the soil food web?
  • What do people do that disturbs and harms healthy soil?
  • Why is it important to protect soil health?
  • How can we improve soil structure and function?
  • How can we grow glomalin, soil’s super glue?

Wake District will identify overall Top 10 winners in early November. The Top 10 will receive prizes and recognition in Wake District’s Annual Awards. The Top 3 winners will receive cash prizes of $100, $50, and $25.

The first-place 4th and 5th-grade posters advance to the regional competition, which may lead to the state competition. Winning posters that have earned first place at all three levels have awarded their student artist up to $400 in cash prizes!

Join the Envirothon

A fun and hands-on natural science academic competition!

Envirothon students studying forestry with an NC Forest Service professional.

The Envirothon is a fun, hands-on, natural science academic competition for middle and high school students. A year-long curriculum combining in-class studies with outdoor training in ecology and natural resource management emphasizes teamwork and higher order thinking skills such as analysis and interpretation. The Envirothon helps develop environmentally aware citizens who are able to assume future leadership roles.

Teams of 3-5 compete at Area 4 and NC Envirothon competitions. The competitions consist of five tests: Soils and Land Use, Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife, and Current Environmental Issues.

Wake District coordinates with team advisors and covers all competition registration fees. To receive support and sponsorship, complete the Wake SWCD Sign Up. Completing the form is the best way to ensure your team receives all the latest updates, reminders, and study resources.

See the Envirothon Webpage to learn more.

For more information on Wake Soil & Water Conservation District's Environmental Education Programs, contact Environmental Educator, Leah Purvis, at leah.purvis@wake.gov or 919-250-1065.

Farmland Preservation

Wake County is losing farmland every year and that’s why the Soil & Water Conservation District, with the full support of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, created the Farmland Preservation Program. As one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S., protecting family farms and forestland is a priority for Wake County. As of November 2023, the program's three initiatives have enrolled the following acreages:

Voluntary Agricultural District11,598 acres enrolled

Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District87 acres enrolled

Agricultural Conservation Easements - exciting additions coming soon!

Interested in farmland preservation, but not sure where to start? Here's why you should consider joining the Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) Program:

  • It’s entirely voluntary, you may unenroll at any time.
  • Gives farm owners a greater voice in local government decisions affecting your community.
  • Reduces conflicts between farm and non-farmland users.
  • Increases visibility of farm communities in the county. Every new enrollee will receive a free sign! (Depicted above).

To learn more about the Farmland Preservation Program, contact Farmland Preservation Coordinator, Loren Hendrickson, at loren.hendrickson@wake.gov or 919-250-1068.

Staff Updates

Welcome, Leah Purvis!

Leah Purvis, Environmental Educator.

Please join the Wake Soil and Water Team in welcoming our new Environmental Educator - Leah Purvis! Born and raised in Pittsboro, North Carolina, Leah brings to this role her experience teaching eighth grade science in Chatham County Public Schools and a passion for studying the natural world. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science and a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Degree in Middle Grade Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. In her spare time, Leah is a Board Member of the Friends of the Lower Haw River State Natural Area, and a fish hobbyist/aquarist. She has curated a thriving ecosystem at home, including snakes, lizards, and native fish (oh my!). We are so grateful to have an extraordinary person like Leah join our team!

For more information on Wake SWCD's Environmental Education Program, contact Leah Purvis at leah.purvis@wake.gov or 919-250-1065.

Mark Your Calendars!

Meetings and Closures:

November 24-25, 2023 – Thanksgiving Holiday (Office Closed)

December 13, 2023 – Wake SWCD Board Meeting

December 25-27 – Winter Holidays (Office Closed)

January 10, 2024 - Wake SWCD Board Meeting

If you have any questions or need assistance, don't hesitate to email us at swcd@wake.gov or call 919-250-1051.

Agricultural Services Building, 4001-D Carya Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610