THS students attend Resource Conservation Workshop

By Gail Heathman | Aug 04, 2014
Photo by: Donated YOUNG CONSERVATIONISTS — Pictured, from left, are Jacob Hunt and Samantha Beasley.

High school students Samantha Beasley and Jacob Hunt are seeing through different eyes these days — but there is nothing wrong with their vision. Since returning from a week at the Resource Conservation Workshop, held in Raleigh earlier this summer, a tree is not just a tree to Beasley. Now she feels the urge to identify the tree, to study its bark and leaves. And for Hunt, riding past a farm rouses speculation about the type of soil found there, the best management practices used to conserve it and how they could be improved.

The two Tuscola students, sponsored by Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District, were chosen to attend the camp based on teacher recommendations and/or their participation in other education programs offered by the District. Both have demonstrated interest in the environment as members of Envirothon teams; Hunt attended the District’s YES Camp and also competed in the State Speech Contest in Raleigh two years ago. While Beasley is a rising senior, Hunt was hoping to attend the camp next summer following his junior year. However, when the selected Pisgah student withdrew he found himself on the way to Raleigh.

Students attending the workshop are housed in dorms at NCSU; it’s a great way to meet other students from across the state.

“I met lifelong friends at the RCW,” said  Beasley. “I got to socialize and enjoy a week with people who were just like me, and that was a great experience to be able to have.”

For over 50 years, the Resource Conservation Workshop has offered students the opportunity to learn from scientists, foresters, biologists, wetland specialists, wildlife experts and engineers who provide classroom instruction and outdoor study in the environmental sciences. Students also gain insight into careers in natural resource management as they spend time with those resource professionals.

“One of my favorite parts of the camp was talking to a female ranger, because she took a career path that interests me,” said Beasley.

And Hunt discovered that soil has its own fascinations.

“The camp has shown me that soil science and conservation is something that I may want to do as a job,” he said. “While at the workshop, I learned that, not only does N.C. State have a soil science department, but it is one of the best in the country. I can definitely see a career possibility in soil science now.”

On the final morning, a written exam precedes an awards luncheon that includes the presentation of several scholarships. The prestigious S. Grady Lane scholarship is considered the grand prize; students must be nominated by their counselors and are then interviewed by a panel. The students are chosen based on more than grades — attitude, character and studious habits are sought-after qualities. Beasley was the one chosen by her counselor and while she did not win the actual scholarship, being one of eight students selected out of the 87 who attended was an honor.

The RCW is sponsored by the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in conjunction with the Hugh Hammond Bennett Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society of America, the N.C. Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation and the Soil Science Department of N.C. State University.

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