Richland Soil and Water Conservation District awards 3 mini-grants to local groups

The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has awarded three Conservation Education Mini-Grants totaling $2,000 to support local schools’ environmental efforts this spring.

With the three newly awarded grants, the Richland SWCD has funded 75 youth conservation projects in Richland County since 2012.

Projects funded this semester include:

  • Satchel Ford Elementary School: Outdoor Handwashing Station and Raised Beds ($1,000)

Funding will go toward expanding the school’s raised-bed gardens and installing an outdoor handwashing station to improve biosecurity and promote farm-to-school education. Project lead: Lauren Hudgens

  • REACH Homeschool Group: Wildlife Garden at Harbison State Forest ($500)

The group will revitalize a wildlife habitat at Harbison State Forest Education Center as one of its Green Steps School initiatives. Project lead: Kim Andrysczyk

  • Westwood High School: Protecting Our Pollinators! ($500)

Environmental studies and special education students will collaborate to convert – in the words of their grant proposals – “an otherwise unimpressive area of grass” into “a beautiful oasis of caterpillars, butterflies and bees.” Project lead: Jeff O’Shields

At Satchel Ford Elementary, a farm-to-school site, students maintain six raised beds for growing herbs, potatoes, summer squash and a variety of winter greens. They plan to add chickens to the learning environment this spring, increasing the need for proper sanitation and food safety practices.

Mini-Grant funding will allow students to expand the raised beds and install an outdoor handwashing station to improve biosecurity at the school.

“Having an outdoor handwashing station will allow a whole class to practice sanitation, thereby creating beneficial routines and expectations” while allowing for teacher oversight, said Hudgens, the school’s Garden Chair.

“The handwashing station is a key component to teach sanitation – a school need as well as a lifelong one,” Hudgens said.

“Sanitation and food safety are important considerations in school gardens,” said SC Farm to School Coordinator Ben Sease. “We commend Satchel Ford Elementary School on their commitment to biosecurity in the school garden and are excited for students to have opportunities to experience gardening and chicken husbandry through their farm-to-school projects.”

Conservation Education Mini-Grants are offered to Richland County K-12 educational institutions twice each school year. The next application deadline is this fall.

For more information and application details, visit or contact Chanda Cooper at [email protected].


About Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. In South Carolina, Conservation District boundaries conform to County boundaries. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use and care of natural resources for long-term sustainability.