Eastern Shore SWCD's Annual Awards Banquet

It is important we all do our part to keep our waterways- our Chesapeake Bay clean.  However, with growth and change, we have to be ever so vigilant in our conservation struggle to keep our environment healthy, safe, beautiful and pristine. The Eastern Shore SWCD annually awards members of our local Eastern Shore community who have been remarkable stewards of the land and in the promotion of conservation. The awardees are recognized at an awards banquet hosted by the District, typically in late July. ​​

2018 Annual Awards Banquet

The 2018 Annual Awards Banquet was held on Friday, July 27, 2018, at the Onley Town Center in Onley, VA.  The event was catered with delicious home-style Eastern Shore fare by Exmore Diner.
From Left to right: Delegate Rob Bloxom with his wife Lou, Associate Director Richard Davis and DCR CDC Arthur Kirkby.
From Left to right: Brooke Layton, Wildlife Conservationist Awardee, Associate Director Richard Hall, III and Mrs. Layton
Director Dave Lovell having a little fun with desserts!
  • 2018 Conservation Farmer of the Year Award:

The District awarded a local farmer, Oscar H. Smith, Jr. of SSS Farms as the 2018 Conservation Farmer of the Year.  Mr. Smith has been a regular participant in the District's cover crop program where he includes Abruzzi Rye in his small grain rotation. He maintains a current nutrient management plan on nearly 130 acres.  Through funding provided by the District in partnership with NRCS, he installed a stream exclusion best management practice (the Distric'ts one and only SL-6 practice so far) to prevent 35 cows from entering Nassawadox Creek.  Keeping cattle out of our waterways is critical to help VA meet Chesapeake Bay Water Implementation Plan goals.
Stream Exclusion Best Management Practice (SL-6) installed by Mr. Oscar Smith, Jr.
  • 2018 Wildlife Conservationist Award:

Nominated by NRCS, the District awarded Brook Layton recognizing his outstanding efforts in wildlife conservation.  In 2004, Mr. Layton bought 70 acres of land under easement.  He farms a number of species recreationally, including plants like buttonbush and wild celery and manages his 30 acre wetland with a water control device that he worked with NRCS to install in 2007.  The wetland gets flooded with about 5 ft of water in the spring, attracting thousands of ducks, geese and other wildlife to the property.  
Eastern Shore SWCD Chair, Robin Rich-Coates awarding Mr. Brooke Layton as 2018 Wildlife Conservationist
  • 2018 Conservation Forester Award:

Nominated by VA Department of Forestry (DOF), Eastern Shore Area Office, the District awarded Richard F. Hall, III (Rick) as the District's 2018 Conservation Forester. Rick manages his family timberlands in Accomack County for loblolly pine timber production and hunting leases.  The DOF has worked closely with Rick over the years to conduct practices such as timber harvesting, commercial thinning, natural and planted reforestation, aerial release, prescribed burning, and pre-commercial thinning on his wooded tracts.  The results of these practices are focused on loblolly pine timber stand maintenance and improvement, and also the enhancement of wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities for the deer hunters that hold hunting leases on Rick's farms.
Eastern Shore SWCD Chair, Robin Rich-Coates,awarding Mrs. Sandra Thornton as 2018 Educator of the Year.
Eastern Shore SWCD Chair, Robin Rich-Coates,awarding Mr. Richard Hall as 2018 Conservation Forester.
  • 2018 Educator of the Year Award:

The District awarded Sandra Thornton, Environmental Science Teacher at Broadwater Academy as the 2018 Educator of the Year.  Sandra was awarded a grant for global teachers to set up a climate sharing project between Broadwater Academy students and students in India, Ugenda, the Artic and the Phillipines.  She is also a PolarTREC/NOAA Teacher at Sea fellow.  Sandra has been the Broadwater Academy Envirothon coach for over 5 years and coached 2 teams in the 2018 District competition.  A quote that inspires Sandra is one by Jane Goodall- "You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind you want to make."
  • 2018 Conservation Student Award:

The District awarded the 2018 Conservation Student Award to Palmer Smith, an exceptional student, who particpates in enviro0nmental studies and conservation outreach. Palmer graduated from Broadwater Academy with a 3.97 GPA and will be attending VA Tech in the fall where she plans to study Animal and Poultry Science.  Palmer particpated on the Envirothon team and in 2017, the District and Ye Accomacke Garden Club selected Palmer to represent the Eastern Shore at VASWCD's Youth Conservation Camp at VA Tech.  
Eastern Shore SWCD Chair, Robin Rich-Coates,awarding Palmer Smith as 2018 Student of the Year and a $500 W. Foster Fletcher Conservation Scholarship.
  • 2018 District Scholarships:

The District awarded the W. Foster Fletcher Conservation Scholarship to two high school graduates in 2018. Palmer Smith (also awarded the District's Conservation Student Award) received a $500 scholarship from the District.  
Hayley Marshall, a Northampton High School graduate, was also awarded a $500 scholarship in 2018.  Hayley had taken the initiative to enroll in the Eastern Shore Community College during high school as a dual enrollment student and completed her Associate's Degree before she received her high school diploma. Her academic record demonstrated excellence and environmental consciousness.
Eastern Shore SWCD Chair, Robin Rich-Coates,awarding Hayley Marshall a $500 W. Foster Fletcher Conservation Scholarship.
  • 2018 VASWCD Youth Conservation Camper:

The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) has sponsored the Youth Conservation Camp located on the campus of Virginia Tech annually for 41 years.  In 2018, Ye Accawmacke Garden Club sponsored Neomi Castro to attend Youth Conservation Camp with District support towards traveling expenses.
Students spend a week learning about VA’s natural resources from conservation professionals and Virginia Tech faculty. 
Eastern Shore SWCD Chair, Robin Rich-Coates,recognizing Neomi Castro as the Eastern Shore camper representative
  • 2018 Clean Water Farm Award:

The Clean Water Farm Award is a State award sponsored by the VA Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) and is given to VA farmers who are exemplary in their protection of the State's soil and water resources.  The 2018 Clean Water Farm Award was presented to David Long of Long Grain & Livestock.  Mr. Long is a regular participant in the District's annual small grain cover crop program and he also has 400 acres enrolled in NRCS' small grain cover crop program.  All of Mr. Long's cropland, about 2,000 acres, has a minimum 35' buffer which helps to protect water quality by intercepting nitrogen and phosphorus carried by surface runoff which has the potential to pollute our local waterways.  He maintains a 2.3 acre pollinator habitat which was established in 2014 to attract local pollinators like butterflies and bees.  He plans to plant another 9.2 acres in field borders to help reduce water erosion.  As the 2018 Clean Water Farm Awardee, the District then nominated him for the 2018 Grand Coastal Basin Award.
Left to Right: Arthur Kirkby- DCR; Robin Rich-Coates- ESSWCD Chair; David Long- 2018 Clean Water Farm Awardee; Richard Street- VA Soil & Water Conservation Board Chair