Local conservation enthusiasts were recognized for their efforts at a banquet Thursday night at the Citizen’s Center in Lincolnton.
Local students, the Conservation Farm Family of the Year and a retired USDA employee were awarded at the Soil and Water Conservation District’s ceremony that celebrates those who are environmentally aware, while also commemorating the 75th year anniversary of the organization.
Chairman of the County Soil and Water Conservation District Tommy Houser gave plaques to the recognized attendees, while District Program Coordinator of the Conservation District Patty Dellinger showed a presentation that gave patrons a brief look at the Conservation District and what it is.
“Great things happen in North Carolina; the creation of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts was another one of those things,” Dellinger said.
Two Lincolnton High Envirothon teams competed earlier this year, answering questions regarding soils, forestry, wildlife aquatics and current environmental issues. Envirothon teams are made up of middle and high school students. This year, LHS was the only Lincoln County team that advanced to the state-level competition.
Though they did not go on to compete at the national level, Dellinger applauded the teams’ advisor, LHS science teacher Lanae Scafidi, for her commitment and time she gave to her groups, named the Wolves and Wolf Pups.
West Lincoln Middle School student Grace Gantt read her winning sixth-grade essay on wetlands and “how wonderful they are.” Her family proudly listened and applauded her as she described what wetlands are and why they are important.
The Blair Goodson Award was given to someone who Houser said promotes conservation of natural resources, in Honor of Goodson who was on the Conservation District’s board for 52 years — Charles Wallace.
Robert and Lisa Kalmbacher were chosen as the Conservation Farm Family of the Year earlier this year and were awarded at the banquet. The duo raise and sell beef cattle at their farm — Grace Farms — in West Lincoln.
Wrapping up the plaque-receiving portion of the night was Michael McSwain, a sophomore at West Lincoln High.
He went in June to workshops at N.C. State University and learned about natural resources, while taking day-trips and exploring what careers may be available to him should he choose to pursue a degree in the field in college.
He plans to attend N.C. State or Virginia Tech in the future.
Director of the Conservation District Rick McSwain explained an ongoing project at West Lincoln High designed to alleviate the runoff from the parking lot and nearby buildings that was damaging the field near the school.
A diversion path of stones and ditches was created to guide the runoff, caused by rainwater and chemicals from students’ cars such as oil and other chemical leaks, were flowing into local streams and carrying over to farms in the area and eroding the property at the high school, McSwain explained.
With the additional dollars not used in the project, McSwain and his team constructed a pier for students to view the wildlife in the pond, while an information plot stands in front detailing the process of saving the property.