Beginning Farmers Outreach Meetings Scheduled

Cawaco RC&D to host Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Outreach Meetings.

Cawaco is partnering with USDA/NRCS and local Soil & Water Conservation Districts to host Beginning Farmer and Ranchers workshops in Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker Counties during FY 2015.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps farmers and ranchers use conservation to help the environment while improving agricultural operations. But not everyone knows about the variety of programs and services offered through USDA agencies like NRCS.

Cawaco is attempting to ensure the workshops are reaching landowners and rural citizens of different backgrounds. “Our goal is to extend our outreach to minority farmers and new farmers, and reach those potential customers that perhaps we have not made contact with before,” said Kellie Johnston, Executive Director for Cawaco RC&D.

To enhance outreach, Cawaco RC&D is hosting outreach meetings with other USDA agencies where farmers and landowners can meet with NRCS district conservationists to talk about their resource needs. In addition we are working to reach small and limited resource farmers and landowners who may be unfamiliar with the many programs and services of NRCS.

To find out about dates and locations, click here.


Cawaco Provides Technology in the Classroom

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—Oak Mountain Elementary School first grade students have been able to supplement their learning with iPads, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Cawaco Resource, Conservation and Development Council in partnership with State Senator Jabo Waggoner, R-Birmingham, and Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham.

On Feb. 12, the OMES students and teachers had a chance to present how the iPads have been implemented in the classroom.

“We use our iPads in so many different ways,” OMES first grade teacher Anne Neighbors said. “We really appreciate your generosity.”

OMES first grade teachers applied for the grant with Cawaco and received funding to purchase two iPads for each classroom.

Students use the iPads to further reading, math and research skills. The iPads are equipped with educational apps such as Scholastic News and games to reinforce conceptual math and sight word reading, Neighbors explained.

“A lot of schools are taking advantage of technology to not only enhance students’ learning, but to make it fun,” Drayton Cosby, with Cawaco, said.

Using iPads in the classroom also introduces the students to using technology in an academic setting at an early age.

“(iPads) allow these young students to access so much more information so much quicker,” Waggoner said. “There are so many educational advantages.”

“They’ve got to realize how to use these (iPads) to be where they want to be as a scholar,” Mooney added, explaining “the future of our world is in electronics.”

OMES Principal Debbie Horton explained the iPads allow teachers to take classroom learning “to the very next level” and also achieve the school’s goal of preparing students for not just the next grade level, but for a successful future beyond school.

“We prepare them for jobs that have not yet been created,” Horton said, noting the importance of technology in current job market. “They are preparing themselves for a future that has not yet been created.”

– See more at: http://www.shelbycountyreporter.com/2015/02/12/omes-first-grade-brings-technology-into-the-classroom/#sthash.GAQJ7Au0.dpuf



Circle of Diamonds Tier II Awarded to Cawaco RC&D

Cawaco RC&D is very excited to announce that we have been granted enhanced (Tier II) Circle of Diamonds membership by the National Association of Resource, Conservation & Development Councils in the National Circle of Diamonds Program, thus becoming one of only 25 RC&D Councils out of 375 nationwide to have qualified for this elite status!

The Circle of Diamonds program highlights the work that RC&D Councils perform in their communities and recognizes good stewardship of the local non-profit council in “Making Things Happen.” It is set up to be a proactive means for RC&D Councils to demonstrate that they are complying with best non-profit management practices and basic requirements of the RC&D statute (Public Law 107–171, Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Sections 1528-1537) .

By earning Tier II membership, Cawaco RC&D Council has clearly confirmed its ability to adhere to the high standards necessary for enhanced membership. It follows an array of governance, personnel, financial management, and planning policies and practices that ensure its effective action and transparent and honest administration.


Low Impact Development Workshop

The North River Project will be hosting Low Impact Development: The Nexus of On-The-Ground Implementation and Stormwater Compliance, December 15, 2014 at the Northport Civic Center. Information covered in the workshop include:
• The economic importance of water protection
• NPDES Stormwater requirements
• Introduction to the Low Impact Development Handbook for the State of Alabama
• Training and case study on mitigating the effects of stormwater using low impact development methods.

Registration is $25 and includes lunch. The announcement, with agenda and registration information is attached. Seating is limited. Register by December 10th to reserve your seat !!!

Online registration: www.lowimpactdevelopment.eventbrite.com

Download flyer here

The pond looks beautiful!

Project Update- Greystone Elementary Outdoor Classroom

Back in 2011, Cawaco awarded Greystone Elementary School a grant to develop an outdoor classroom.  This first phase of the project allowed them to purchase native plants and trees, create a rain garden, and  install a pond.  They also bought a cistern to collect rainwater off the roof of the school to water the plants. This saves the school a lot of money, and it helps conserve our most precious resource- water.
IMG_3896  On October 27, 2014, Greystone was awarded their Outdoor Classroom certification from the Alabama Wildlife Federation!  It is always a delight to see projects blossom and mature!


Visit with Cornerstone

Patti Pennington was at Cornerstone School on October 20,  and met Ms. Crist and her kindergarten class. There have been many improvements since Cawaco helped Cornerstone get their garden going! Teacher excitement and involvement has made this project a HUGE success! Herb gardens, a rain barrell, and a sign with the Cawaco logo on it are among the new additions! The kids are outdoors every opportunity they get.



Board Member Spotlight


Meet Judge Chris Green of Blount County. He serves on the Cawaco Board Personnel and Executive Committees.

Chris is both a Blount County Probate Judge and Commission Chairman. He has also served as the Blount County Revenue Commissioner and Blount County Administrator.

Chris loves to go fishing, especially along the Beautiful Locust Fork River.

He also enjoys music. ”I love to play the fiddle and often get together with friends for a little front porch music jam.” He says.  Chris is also active in his church and enjoys being the music leader at  First Baptist Church Cleveland, Alabama.

I asked Chris how he came to know Cawaco RC&D, and he told me, “I became involved with Cawaco while serving as the Blount County Administrator. I appreciate the fact that CAWACO is very involved in projects that preserve our environment and provide increased recreational opportunities for our citizens.”  He then added, “Cawaco has assisted in multiple projects to improve our County Parks such as; making our restrooms handicap assessable, providing for a special trail to identify native trees and roof repairs to park buildings just to name a few. Cawaco has also assisted in many projects for properly equipping our volunteer fire departments.”


Kids learning water safety and kayaking

The kayaks are being put to good use and even made the paper!

Kids participate in Outdoor Adventure Camp

By Emily Etheredge

Published 3:56pm Thursday, July 3, 2014 Clanton Advertiser

Children participate in outdoor nature camp using Cawaco kayaks.
Children participate in outdoor nature camp using Cawaco kayaks.

JoJo Wells was excited to practice his archery techniques Thursday morning as he eagerly waited his turn at hitting the target.

“I hope I hit the bull’s-eye,” Wells, 7, said. “It is kind of tricky though.”

Wells, along with 17 other kids, participated in the three-day “Outdoor Adventures Camp” hosted by the Chilton County Extension Office at Minooka Park in Jemison.

The camp included activities from 9-2 p.m. July 1-3 that focused on topics including forestry, wildlife, archery, fishing and kayaking.

“We want to help get kids interested in outdoor activities,” said Josine Walter, a 4-H Regional Extension Agent. “Today we are focusing on archery, kayaking, and we will go over how to make a campfire.”

Other activities included in the camp taught kids how to measure the diameter of a tree, leaf identification, and a GPS-oriented scavenger hunt.

Sherry Wells brought her three grandchildren to the camp to get them involved with group activities during the summer.

“We have had a lot of fun,” Wells said. “I have noticed that they have learned patience and the value of teamwork. They have also made a lot of new friends, and commented to me this morning they were all sad to say goodbye to them.”

Wells said this was the first time for her grandchildren to participate in the “Outdoor Adventures Camp,” but she hopes to make it an annual event.

“They have all had a really great time,” Wells said. “They have gotten to be outside and learning different things. It is important to me that they have activities to keep them active throughout the summer.”

Walter said each child, ranging in ages from grade school to high school, more than likely hiked 3-5 miles each day.

“These kids have learned a lot this week,” Walter said.

Walter said the six kayaks used in the camp were provided through a state grant from Cawaco RC&D Council.

Walter gathered all of the kids under a shaded pavilion Thursday morning to go over the activities for the day.

“Today we are going to go kayaking,” Walter said. “Everyone who gets in the water has to wear a personal flotation device. I will also tell you that if you tip, it is OK. I can almost guarantee you will get wet.”

Dallas Day, 10, said she was excited to get in the water, but hoped the water wouldn’t be too cold.

“I think it will be fun,” Day said. “I can tell you this, the food has been great. We got to eat hobo chicken one day and grilled burgers, and it was delicious.”

Although Caleb Carpenter said he was excited to get in a kayak, he wanted to perfect his target hitting before heading to the water.

“I have been practicing with the bow and arrow,” Carpenter said. “I was about an inch away from the bull’s-eye one time.”

– See more at: http://www.clantonadvertiser.com/2014/07/03/kids-participate-in-outdoor-adventure-camp-photo-gallery/#sthash.ipLB85ya.dpuf


Palisades Park gets WiFi!

Cawaco RC&D id dedicated to the development and wise use of our Natural Resources. Although many will think that a park getting WiFi is not supporting natural resources, please remember- our focus for the next year is Parks and Rec. And WiFi will benefit the park, as well as the community and visitors. Visitors can now host meetings at the lodges and have internet access,  The park is now able to take internet reservations. And in the event of an emergency, Palisades Park is no longer in the dark.  We want to thank the Legislators for their continued support and interest in their area! We exist to help communities in need, and so do they.  Palisades WIFI Grant

Empowering people to help themselves

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