Students advance in soil and water contests

Special to The Mountaineer
By Gail Heathman | Mar 04, 2013
Photo by: Donated photos Pictured above are Brittani Clerk and Natalie Swaim, WMS students, who won for speech in the  area contests. Below are the talented Swaim sisters with their monther, Sherry Swaim (at left).

Haywood students had a good day Feb. 26 in the second round of contests sponsored by the soil and water conservation districts that make up Area I. After winning in the Haywood district’s contests earlier this month, no less than five Haywood students walked away with another first place prize ($50) and the opportunity to compete among the best in the state this spring.

Alexandria Traynham, a student at Junaluska Elementary School, produced the winning fifth grade poster.

For the speech winners, WMS students Natalie Swaim and Brittani Clark, making that final speech will mean a trip to Raleigh. Fortunately, the contest is in May, giving both girls time to polish speeches that were already very good. In describing her interests, Clark told the audience she has really gotten into learning more about water — a good thing, since the speech title is “Water…the Cycle of Life.”

And for the Swaim sister trio, there were no losers at the area contests — shortly before Natalie was named seventh-grade speech winner, Sarah’s slide show and Rachel’s computer-generated poster were also declared winners.

North Carolina’s 96 soil and water conservation districts are divided into eight areas. Each area has a coordinator, an employee of the Division of Soil and Water Conservation (North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services). Davis Ferguson is the Area 1 coordinator who organizes events such as the area contests.

For the Haywood district, the contests are part of a year-round education program for local students. The district sponsors two high school students each summer at the Resource Conservation Workshop at NCSU and offers programs such as Envirothon, the YES (Youth Environmental Stewardship) Camp, Conservation Field Day, FFA Land Judging and teacher workshops such as Project Food, Land & People. The district also provides free resources for educators such as posters, booklets and a lending library.

Gail Heathman is the education coordinator for the Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District.