Environmental Field Days encourage conservation in the next generation

Published 6:22 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Care for the land and the waters, lessons on the forests and the wetlands and a message of conservation — these important topics were at the forefront of conversation for fifth graders in Beaufort County this week.

For 31 years, Beaufort County students have learned the importance of these topics and environmental stewardship as a whole during the course of the Beaufort County Soil and Water District’s annual Dan Windley Environmental Field Days.

Taking place at Goose Creek State Park this week, more than 600 area students, teachers and chaperones will have participated in the Field Days by the end of the week, taking home lessons on aquatics, soils, wetlands, forestry, conservation and crating super soil bracelets.

“The idea behind the Dan Windley Environmental Field Days is to show students the role they and other people play in preserving the environment,” Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District Education Coordinator Debbie Boyd said. “We want student to understand how important it is to help protect our environment now and for all future generations.”

Bringing together the best in each of the program’s fields, the Field Days were made possible by presenters from the Soil and Water office, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the N.C. Estuarium and Goose Creek State Park.

FEEDING FRENZY: N.C. Estuarium employee Russ Chesson uses fun and games to teach students about aquatic ecosystems, the food chain and what it takes for aquatic creatures to thrive and survive. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

“It takes the coordination and cooperation of all presenters and agencies involved to make the Field Days come together,” Boyd said.

Originally started by BSWCD conservationist Dan Windley in 1987, the Field Days underwent two significant changes in 2008. The first, was a restructuring of the program to align with the Fifth Grade Science and Social Studies curriculum, a move which helped students better prepare for end of grade testing.

The second change was that the district made a decision to honor the man who began the field days in the first place. With the blessing of Windley’s family, the event was officially renamed in his honor in 2008, following his passing in 2006.

In the time since it’s inception, the Dan Windley Environmental Field Days have taught thousands of local students valuable lessons on what they can do to help protect the health of Beaufort County’s land and waterways — a legacy Mr. Windley would certainly be proud of.

To learn more about the Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the programs and services offered by the office, visit co.beaufort.nc.us/departments/community-services/soil-and-water.