Districts serve an important role that bridges education and voluntary participation to improve the environment specifically towards homeowners and farms. Districts were formed from the aftermath of the Dust Bowl to help farmers use smarter practices to reduce erosion and pollution. Unlike other goverment agencies that rely on burdensome regulation, districts provide money to those who agree to install conservation practices and agree to keep those practices in place for 10 or more years.
Henrico County is becoming increasingly urbanized. While districts historically worked only with farmers, districts like Henricopolis must increasingly work with homeowners and businesses to reduce pollution such as untreated runoff of fertilizers and pet waste which washes into local streams. In the previous four years as a Henricopolis Director, the District is well head of the curve by helping to preserve local land from development and installing conservation practices at homes.
In the next four years, I see the continued need to work more with homeowners and businesses to reduce runoff pollution. In addition, I want to increase the water quality monitoring done by Henricopolis volunteers to help identify pollution spills and discharges for cleanup and correction. Finally, work with Henrico County to incentivize smarter development polices such as the wider use of permeable pavers and preserve trees and topsoil from being removed during the construction of new homes
Really, we’re translators. Policies may address “stormwater runoff,” but we teach families how to stop the flooding. Headlines may reference the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, but we clean up creeks in neighborhoods. The DEQ may regulate erosion, but we help farmers pay for cover crops and other best practices. And whether we're standing in a Varina corn field, Short Pump classroom, or northside backyards, we interact with residents as neighbors.
You’ve seen it yourself. Henrico County is changing from farms to suburbs. In the 8 years I’ve served on this board, we’ve worked to balance our traditional focus on agriculture with new urban challenges. We still work with farmers, and I’m thrilled to be founder/chair of our Land Preservation Committee, helping landowners protect private fields & forests. But I'm also a founding member of the Urban Committee, which helps homeowners/businesses prevent flooding & keep our drinking water clean.
I’m running for re-election to keep working on 3 priorities: 1. Promote voluntary adoption of innovations (rainwater harvesting, native landscaping, permeable paving, etc) at homes and businesses. 2. As Chair of the Cornerstone Community Farm Committee (and co-author of the $50,000 launching grant), make it a self-sustaining resource for Henrico students, and a model for school farms across the region. 3. Expand access to conservation easements so land owners can protect private green space.
The Henricopolis Soil & Water Conservation District is a subdivision of state government responsible for natural resource conservation. It is led by a 5 member Board, 3 of whom are elected. The District works with state, federal, and county agencies, other conservation organizations, and community partners to achieve its objectives. The District provides education and community engagement programs and oversees the distribution of funds through the The Virginia Conservation Assistance Program.
One of the greatest challenges facing the District is that only a very small percentage of voters knows what it is, what it does, and what benefit it can provide them. I feel called to the position of Soil & Water Director to combine my life-long passion for environmental protection, my 10+ years of non-profit Board experience, and my 20+ years of marketing communications experience to elevate the awareness of the District and increase community engagement in daily environmental stewardship.
With environmental protections being diminished at the federal level, it is more important now than ever before that all citizens make a personal commitment to environmental stewardship. My priorities will be:
1. To elevate the awareness of the District throughout Henrico County and to increase community engagement in its programs.
2. To ensure that the District has adequate resources to advance its mission.
3. To maintain the transparency and accountability of the Board and its committees.
I believe it serves two vital roles: effectively administering environmental conservation programs and educational outreach programs. Conservation programs help home and landowners implement best practices to reduce soil erosion and nonpoint source pollution in our rivers and streams. The district’s educational programs are essential to educating the public and school-age children on the importance of environmental stewardship.
The increasing effects of climate change and suburban expansion into the more rural areas of Henrico, the district must continue to adapt to the challenges that come with this development. Increased severity of weather events and flooding in Henrico is a real threat to the health of our soil and water resources. The district must ensure that homeowners are aware of their impact on our environment as well as work with local businesses to help them reduce pollution from developed properties.
Over the next four years, I want to see the district take a more proactive role in increasing the district’s visibility outside of the environmental community and those currently engaged. I want to take steps to ensure that a greater number of county residents are engaged in the district’s programs and taking advantage of the resources available. I believe that the district plays a vital role in our community and I want to make sure that it’s impact continues to be both positive and meaningful.
I believe that the most important rold of the Soil and Water Conservation District is to provide all of our schools with strong educational programs that help our children understand the importance of storm water management, stewardship of our lands, water resource and all the other topics that are related to environmental education.
I think we are all aware that our climate is changing and so we will need to be agile in how we focus on local programs and policies to do our part to take care of our district's soil and water resources. I also think more people should be aware of the Soil and Water Board and the role that it plays in our government.
Focus on environmental education including day camps and other programs. Focus on more information about the Soil and Water Board for the general public. Fiscal responsibility for the Board.