NEWBERRY — The Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual Camp Conservation on Aug. 2 at the Setzler Hatchery on College Street.
Camp Conservation had 18 youths in attendance and 13 volunteers. Sponsors for Camp Conservation included NRCS, Setzler Farms, the South Carolina State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Keep Newberry County Beautiful, Clemson Extension, ISE of Newberry and member affiliates.
All sponsors donated time, money and/or supplies to aid in this successful event, because of the response to the new start-up of Camp Conservation, the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District was able to offer this as a free event for the first time ever.
In past years, the total cost per child was $75 for a week long camp, averaging $15 per day. This year, not only was it no cost to the children, but lunch was also included.
Commissioners Ben Setzler, chairman; Wayne Satterwhite, vice chairman; Jason Bishop, secretary; and Doug Heydt, treasurer were all in attendance to help set-up, clean-up, and participate in the daily activities with the campers.
The children had hands-on experience with assembling and decorating blue bird houses that were funded by the S.C. State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Gary Peters, also from the NWTFSC, talked about birds, their habitats and more. The children participated in egg relay races, an egg toss, bird watching, tug-of-war and other games and activities.
Alana West from Clemson Extension talked about water run-off and the importance of keeping pollution at a minimum by disposing of waste properly using her Enviroscape model. This mimicked a watershed so the youths could see firsthand how pollution affects our area in Newberry County and world beyond.
After a short hay ride from Setzler, Marc Renwick with Piedmont Tech elaborated off West’s talk with a presentation where he seined the pond and showed the kids how pollutants can impact the living organisms in our waters, right in our backyards.
He demonstrated how the pond was healthy and how to tell the differences in the fish. The children were also able to see turkeys and “communicate” with them at the Setzler Farm, Setzler caught a turkey so the kids could touch and see one close up.
Back at the hatchery, everyone ate lunch from Subway. Afterwards, Setzler, or “Farmer Ben” as he was better known, gave an speech about crop farming and livestock, while incorporating the Setzler Farm operations into the discussion. The youths were very receptive and enjoyed being able to converse back and forth with Farmer Ben about what they do on the farm.
Next, Staci Henry from NRCS played a game of “Staci Says” (her rendition of “Simon Says”) to liven up the children and get their creative juices flowing. She then did a soil and water experiment that showed the children the comparison of water quality when there are plants and grass versus dead sticks and leaves versus when the soil is bare. Henry demonstrated this using soda bottles and how the water has more clarity when foliage is present, giving a healthier soil and better quality water.
West gave a PowerPoint presentation on recycling. She gave facts about recycling products and how long certain items take to biodegrade.
Once the rain died down at Setzler Farms, Setzler brought a John Deere 6170 tractor for the youths to inspect and play on. He even invited them to “drive” the tractor with his assistance.
Camp Conservation of 2014 started a tradition which the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District hopes to extend into the coming years.
If you would like more information on how to help and/or donate to keep Camp Conservation going, call Danielle Rowe at 803-940-6001 or come by the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District office at 719 Kendall Road in Newberry.