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Soil & Water Conservation District is Planting the Seeds for the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards

Environmental Educator Taira Lance (left) with Nesbitt Discovery Academy's Aquaholics and Purple People Eaters

Protecting our natural resources is an important part of creating a sustainable community. Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District (BCSWCD) Environmental Educator Taira Lance is on the front lines, working with students from across the area planting the seeds of conservation.


BCSWCD’s mission is to conserve the soil, water, and related natural resources of Buncombe County by providing education, information, technical assistance, and economic incentives to County citizens by establishing new programs in concert with other appropriate agencies to meet changing needs. “Environmental education is essential to the success of our soil and water conservation program,” says BCSWCD Director Gary Higgins. “Since participation in the various programs we offer is voluntary, we depend on a level of awareness of soil and water conservation issues that motivates citizens to take action and make informed decisions on how to manage their land.”


Last year BCSWCD provided over 230 environmental education programs to area students from kindergarten to college. Envirothon is one of those programs. Envirothon is a fun, hands-on, natural science academic event that challenges and engages middle and high school students to think critically about the natural world and their role in it. This year 92 Buncombe County students competed at the local area competition taking five of the top seven slots. Nesbitt Discovery Academy’s Aquaholics and the Purple People Eaters went on to place 9th and 27th respectively at the State Envirothon, competing against the top 50 High School Teams in North Carolina.


The Aquaholics take their after-school curriculum seriously. These students are very passionate and motivated to excel in Envirothon, says Taira Lance, Environmental Educator for Buncombe Soil and Water Conservation District (BCSWCD). “I get weekly agendas from the students structuring my lesson plans to their learning objectives, it is awesome. I feel quite certain that the Envirothon students will all be environmental stewards of the land whether by career, volunteers, or in their personal life. That is why our educational programming is so important in planting the seeds of conservation.”


The students agree. “You get to meet professionals who work in these areas, you get to collaborate with them and learn more about their fields,” says one team member. “We are definitely learning how to work as a team and how to make sure everyone takes responsibility. We each have a subject to learn, we take the test as a team, but no one is going to know your subject.” This translates into life lessons. “Envirothon helps the student make the connection between the classroom and real world situations,” notes science teacher Gregory Tucker. “If we instill conservation awareness and practices when the students are young, our hope is that it will establish lifelong conservation habits and environmental stewards,” says Lance.

To learn more about our programs contact Taira Lance at 828-250-4787.