Hillsborough 100 2022

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Hillsborough 100

CONSERVATION CHALLENGE Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District

In proud partnership with the

Conservation …. Then and Now

Tracing their roots to severe dust storms and the drive and vision of a man long recognized as “the father of soil conservation,” today’s soil and water conservation districts have tested their mettle as necessary governmental entities in the drive to protect and support both the livelihoods of farmers and the natural resources that enrich us all. Founded locally in 1964, the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District traces its roots to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when severe dust storms greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies.The U.S. Congress met to discuss the root causes of the so-called “Dirty Thirties,” which led to near pitch-black darkness in the middle of the day followed by the Great Plow-Up that turned millions of acres of thick, native grassland into wheat fields. At first considered freaks of nature, the storms and the ensuing eight-year drought led to a determination that Congress was dealing with the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, which led to the conservation movement that included the establishment of conservation districts nationwide. That’s where Hugh Hammond Bennett came in, the man long recognized as the father of soil conservation, whose greatest achievements were realized in an era of drought and depression marked by the stock market crash in October 1929. Plummeting wheat prices led panicked farmers to plow even more land to recoup their losses. With continuing price deflation, farmers abandoned their lands, leading to a mass exodus out of the Great Plains states from 1930 through 1935. Left behind were millions of acres of exposed soil, their protective grasses long since plowed, which in turn led to the “black blizzards” that legislators were tasked to correct. Born in 1881, Bennett grew up working with his farming family in Anson County, N.C., where to keep the land from washing away he learned as a child the importance of laying terrace lines and digging channels in hilly grounds. He came of age when wheat prices were high and agriculture in the Great Plains states brought unprecedented plowing to more than 1 million acres of soil, which for thousands of years had been protected from the elements by lush grasslands. Armed with his studies in geology and chemistry as a University of North Carolina graduate, Bennett studied soils



nationally and abroad and warned of the “enormous cost of soil wastage by erosion and excessive loss of rainwater runoff from unprotected cultivated slopes and from overgrazed ranges and pastures.” So he wrote in a 1929 article that addressed Congressional approval

“for studying the whole problem of erosion and for developing practical methods of control.” As a result, Bennett was asked to lead 10 experimental soil research centers established in the hardest-hit areas of the country, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. Upon taking office in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented experimental programs collectively known as the New Deal, aimed to stabilize the economy and bring people out of poverty. Bennett was asked to lead the Soil Erosion Service, a governmental emergency relief organization tasked to address what had been recognized as a national epidemic.Armed with the cooperative assistance of engineers, biologists, economists, soil surveyors and technicians, Bennett championed a “Farm Conservation Plan” prepared for individual farmers and their land, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all blueprint for action. Farmers with this “green team” of experts were to work with nature, and not against it, putting together a conservation plan out of a host of conservation activities, considering as well the land’s place within the watershed. Such were the defining roots of today’s soil and water conservation districts, which were born out of a soil conservation bill approved in 1935 that codified the importance of involving local organizations to help farmers and ranchers with their unique issues.Today, nearly 3,000 soil and water conservation districts exist nationwide, driven to educate, communicate, assist, support, coordinate and promote best conservation practices to farmers, families, schools, civic clubs, businesses, individuals and agricultural interests.With climate disruptions such as the mega drought impacting our western states

Sunday, April 24, 2022 | Tampa Bay Times

(the worst in 1,200 years), conservation education and project implementation are as critical today as ever before. Driven by its motto that “conservation is everybody’s business,” the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District promotes programs, projects and activities that encourage, challenge and celebrate people of all ages in their efforts to become better stewards of natural resources in their rural, urban, inner-city and suburban communities. Elected in nonpartisan races to serve four-year terms in a volunteer capacity, Hillsborough’s five district supervisors serve as a liaison between governmental-funding entities and local landowners. Supervisors also oversee the efforts that define the district’s work year-round for agricultural and conservation enrichment, including local working group meetings and outreach efforts that support Best Management Practices (BMPs) and costshare programs for bona fide agricultural operators. Moreover, HSWCD outreach and engagement includes u-picks at Fancy Farms (strawberries) and Duggal & Sons Farm (blueberries); school gardens sponsored jointly by HSWCD and Lipman Family Farms; road, river and bay cleanups throughout Tampa Bay; efforts to recycle paper, plastics and electronics; the annual HSWCD Great Plant Auction, which in its fifth year in 2021 raised thousands of dollars for youth programs; and tree plantings, which in 2021 included more than 200 volunteers planting 20,000 longleaf pine seedlings at the Lower Green Swamp Preserve in Plant City. Thousands of students participate annually as well in conservation education programs that include Ag-Venture; Envirothon; school and park programs; land-judging competitions; and the annual HSWCD poster, speech and rain barrel decorating competitions, as well as educational activities at HSWCD exhibits at state and county fairs, festivals and events. “Despite the issues of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we had a very successful year in 2021 and anticipate an even greater level of engagement in 2022, and especially so with the full-scale return of the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, which started in 2017,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, the HSWCD’s executive director.“We are particularly excited that the range and scope of what we do continues to grow as we add more and more activities and events each year.We are committed to show by doing that conservation, indeed, is everybody’s business.”

Katherine Tyson Named HSWCD Student Conservationist of the Year Riverview High School honor student and senior Katherine “Katie” Tyson has been selected as HSWCD’s “2022 Student Conservationist of the Year.” Graduating this spring, Katie has been accepted to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania where she’ll pursue a double major in Environmental Engineering and Prussian History. During her years at Riverview High School, she restarted an Interact Club (serving as president for 2 years), and as a result, participated in numerous service projects with the sponsoring Rotary Club of FishHawk Riverview. Katie has an intense interest in carbon offsets and how carbon affects the environment. She hopes one day to participate in the development of building materials that can absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Her involvement with the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District has been extensive. She worked last year with HSWCD’s “Let’s Plant Some Trees” program, which involved over 200 volunteers planting 20,000 long leaf pine seedlings. This year she served as lead artist for the centerpiece mural showcased at the Florida State Fair, featuring “Bees, Bats, Birds and Butterflies….Our Perfect Pollinators.” Katie spent over 120 hours painting caricatures in a whimsical design that also included a bright red barn. On opening day of the fair, Katie and the other artists dressed as pollinators and handed out special conservation messages to attendees at the “Fresh from Florida” Breakfast. In addition, she assisted with the District’s work in the legislative realm over the past several months. Katie is an honorary member of The Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco (Ecology), one of only 18 such rotary clubs in the world. According to club president Mike Meegan,“Katie’s an inspiration to everyone because she is truly committed to the conservation cause. She’s always ready to pitch in with any project.” That sense of service was evident in March when she traveled on a Rotary International Mission trip to Honduras where she assisted in building a house for a family in need, building a pilla, ceramic water filtration system, and 2 latrines for families. She also helped paint murals at a local school to encourage reading. Her parents Kim and David, and twin sister Bree are very proud of her service and accomplishments. With this recognition, Katie becomes the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District’s first recipient of its “Student Conservationist of the Year” award. Congratulations Katie!

These are some of almost 1,500 BEE Drawings completed by youth and adult visitors at the Hillsborough Soil & Water Conservation District’s Exhibit during the 2022 Florida State Fair.

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Meet Our Supervisors Chairman Kathy Eckdahl (District 1) – Hillsborough Soil and

Water Conservation District Chairman Kathy Eckdahl is a 20-plus year educator within the Hillsborough County school system. She currently teaches through the Hillsborough Virtual program and simply loves the challenge. “One of the things I enjoy most is the tremendous diversity of students we interact with through the Virtual Program. Each comes with their own set of skills and challenges.” Serving on the HSWCD Board and as Chairman has also been a terrific experience for Eckdahl. “I really appreciate the opportunity to serve others and that includes farmers in virtually every category of agriculture,” notes the Chair. “We also have programs that help educate all the public, both young and old, about the critical importance of our natural resources.” Vice-Chair Andrew Brooks (District 5) – For Andrew, parks have

been a passion throughout his life. Most weekends he and his family can be found camping, fishing, hiking and kayaking at one of Hillsborough’s many county or state parks. A native of Tampa, Brooks is a graduate of Sickles High School and the University of South Florida where he received a degree in Criminology. Some of Brooks’ other interests include sustainable farming, forestry, ice hockey

and flying RC airplanes. This past year has been an especially exciting one for the Board’s Vice-Chair, as he welcomed a baby daughter. “The birth of my daughter brought home the fact that we all are responsible for protecting the environment we live in and doing our best to create the best future possible for those we love,”states Brooks. “Each one of us must do our part because conservation is everybody’s business.”

Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors are elected to fill four-year terms. Left to right: Kathy Eckdahl - Chair, Seat 1; Andrew Brooks - Vice-Chair, Seat 5; Dr. Sonja Brookins - Treasurer, Seat 4; Karen Cox Jaroch - Supervisor, Seat 2; Mark Proctor, Supervisor Seat 3.

Treasurer Dr. Sonja Brookins (District 4) – Dr. Brookins is a Hillsbor-

Brookins is the mother of two adult children and has three grandchildren.

ough County native who graduated from Chamberlain High School where she participated in 4-H and the school’s Student Advisory Committee. She’s a graduate of Austin Peay State University, Prairie View A & M University, and Texas Chiropractic College, and teaches at Kaiser University. In addition, she currently serves on the Board of Directors for both Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties’ Democratic Environmental Caucuses. She’s also the Area 4 Vice-President of the Association of Florida Conservation Districts. Brookins reports, “I’m committed to conservation and protecting our environment, so I’m involved in a number of progressive activities in the Tampa Bay area that will hopefully educate people to create greater environmental awareness.”

Supervisor Karen Cox Jaroch (District 2) – Karen Jaroch is passion-

ate about community service and loves Hillsborough County, where she and her husband have raised four children. Karen is a licensed Professional Engineer and certified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as a Stormwater, Erosion and Sediment Control Inspector. In describing her philosophy Jaroch states, “I believe I share Ronald Reagan’s belief that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge. In fact, our health, happiness and prosperity will be sustained by working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.” Before her election to the Conservation District, Karen served for six years on the

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Board, where she effectively worked for financial sustainability and meeting the mobility needs of all the county’s residents. Supervisor Mark Proctor (Seat 3) – First elected in 2014, Mark

has served as the Board’s Chairman, as well as Area Vice-President for the Association of Florida Conservation Districts. He has participated in numerous area, state and national meetings (National Association of Conservation Districts). As Chairman, he helped organize and launch the first Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge. He’s also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, which participates in the Hillsborough 100 with an Adopt-A-Road cleanup on Kings Avenue in Brandon and at Alafia River State Park. Mark’s first involvement in conservation was as a graduate student at Florida State

University where he studied Mass Communications and Environmental Law. He worked with the Florida Fresh Water Fish and Game Commission to complete and publish a federal document before moving to Brandon. Proctor has served as President of the Greater Brandon Chamber; President of Brandon Kiwanis; President of the Tampa Association of Realtors; President of the Presidents’ Roundtable; President of Center Place; and Chairman of the Tampa Sports Authority, among other organizations. Born in Florida, he lives with his wife Carolyn, a local veterinarian; serves as a local commercial real estate broker and successful political candidate consultant; and loves spending time with son Morgan, daughter-in-law Danielle and grandson Johnny.

Meet the Staff

Betty Jo Tompkins Betty Jo Tompkins joined the HSWCD

staff as Executive Director in November 2015, following service as Chairman of the District’s Board of Supervisors, a position held previously by both her husband Chris and son, Christopher. Educated at the University of Florida in public relations, agriculture and sociology, her career included service as Executive Director of both the Greater Brandon Chamber and Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, as well as work in the publishing field and as a lobbyist. Betty Jo’s grandparents were dairy farmers and her involvement in agriculture and youth stretches back decades. Her commitment includes Board member and


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Linda Chion (Kenney) President of both the Hillsborough County and Florida 4-H Foundations; President and Board member of the Hillsborough County Fair; Immediate Past President of the Florida Association of Conservation Districts Employees Association; Past District Governor of Rotary International and membership in the Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco and ESRAG (Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group) and others. Recognitions include being named to the Southeast Hall of Fame by the National Association of Conservation Districts; Florida 4-H Hall of Fame; Florida 4-H Lifetime See Staff on Page 5

The Plastic Pig and Trash Monster remind everyone that Plastic Pollution is “Just Plain Bad” Wonder just when this plastic pollution will stop? Every single day a never-ending stream of plastic waste enters our rivers, lakes and streams, while at the same time filling landfills and waste facilities to the max. This waste, in the form of single-use plastic bags, plastic bottles, straws and packaging is created by just about every man, woman and child and it’s everyone’s responsibility to break the plastic habit. One of the biggest offenders for the environment is the single-use plastic bag found in grocery stores. Starting with the green bags in the produce department, they are the first “bad,”taking 500 years to degrade in a landfill.Add to that the second “bad,” another plastic bag at the front of the store and another 500 years to degrade. According to National Geographic, “At the current use rate of a trillion bags a year, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.” Always preferable is to use paper bags, which are “better” or recycle bags, which are the “best.” In fact, six of the top ten contributors to marine debris are singleuse plastic products, such as disposable food and beverage containers, plastic bags, utensils, and drinking straws, according to the Ocean Conservancy. The problem is not one isolated to this country, but rather worldwide. The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of over 1,200 organizations, businesses and thought

leaders in 75 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, waterways, the ocean and the environment. Other groups working to protect our lakes, rivers and oceans include the Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Oceana, 5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Ocean Foundation, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Lonely Whale Foundation, and Bye, Bye Plastic Bags,

among others. Do your part. It’s easy. Just buy one recycle bag each time you shop and you’ll soon have enough to lower your plastic impact.Then make sure you eliminate single-use drink containers, plastic straws and other plastic and styrofoam products. Remember, protecting the environment is the responsibility of each and every one of us!! Do Your Part and Don’t Be A Plastic Pig or Trash Monster!!

Staff from Page 4 Achievement Award; Harvest Lifetime Achievement Award and Key Citizen. “Working with a terrific Board of Supervisors has made it possible for us to create new and innovative programs, because we share the belief that Conservation Is Everybody’s Business,” states Tompkins. Linda Chion (Kenney) is HSWCD’s part-time computer graphics designer. She

began her journey with the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District through her freelance communications business, specializing in writing, editing, photography, video, website content and development, graphic design and journalism for multimedia platforms. In addition to her graphics work, she plays an integral part in the District’s other programs, projects and activities. Tampa Bay Times

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Sunday, April 24, 2022 | Tampa Bay Times

Fairs and Festivals

Save the Dates


HSWCD Conservation Display Florida State Fair / Feb. 2022

The Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District supports and participates in a wide range of fairs, festivals and events throughout the year, including the ones listed below. Save the dates and stop by our displays to learn more about HSWCD programs, projects and activities, including those related to cost-share programs for farmers; contests and educational programs for youth; and Hillsborough 100 Action Awareness projects. May 5, 2022 Clean Air Fair William F. Poe Plaza, 800 N.Ashley Drive — A day of activities and exhibits presented by the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission in celebration of May as Clean Air Month. This year’s theme: Celebrate Clean Air. Phone: (813) 627-2600; www.epchc.com. Nov. 3-13, 2022 Hillsborough County Fair 215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover — Now an 11-day event, the county fair showcases the agricultural, educational and industrial history and social fabric of the community. Lots to see, create, show and celebrate at the ever-growing fair in one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties. Featured at the fair are extensive livestock shows covering beef cattle, steers, dairy, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and turkeys.The HSWCD Great Plant Auction returns on Sunday, Nov. 13 for a sixth year, showcasing some of the finest offerings of local nurserymen. Proceeds benefit HSWCD youth programs.The annual Harvest Awards will be presented on the fair’s opening day, Nov. 3. Phone: (813) 737-FAIR; www.HillsboroughCountyFair.com. November 2022 Florida Ag Expo UF Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Wimauma — A partnership between AgNet Media Inc. and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), including also the Florida Tomato Committee, Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association. Highlights include tours, vendors, exhibits, networking, and updates on the latest research. Phone: (352) 671-1909; www.FloridaAgExpo.net. Dec. 10, 2022 Strawberry Jam Annual Florida Strawberry Growers Association dinner and awards night to honor outstanding individuals for their contributions to the Florida strawberry industry. Phone: (813) 752-6822; www.flastrawberry.com.

Feb. 9-20, 2023 Florida State Fair 4800 U.S. Highway 301 N, Tampa — Fabulous showcase of Florida Agriculture with exhibits, shows, fantastic fair food, entertainment, rides and family-friendly activities. At 1,800 square feet, the 2022 HSWCD exhibit space featured the “Our Pollinators” mural designed and painted by local students, the #BEEYourBest coloring table and rain-barrel painting station (a draw for youth and adults alike), educational displays; hand-outs and larger-than-life displays from environmental, farming and conservation-minded partners, including the city of Tampa’s “trash monster.” Special events at the fair include the Taste of Florida Breakfast (Feb. 9), Governor’s Luncheon (Feb. 9),Women of the Year in Ag luncheon (Feb. 13),Ag Hall of Fame dinner (Feb. 14), Champion of Champions dinner (Feb. 20) and more. Phone: (813) 621-7821; www.FloridaStateFair.com. March 2-12, 2023 Florida Strawberry Festival 303 Berryfest Place, Plant City — Set for its 88th year in 2023, the Florida Strawberry Festival is an 11-day event celebrating the strawberry harvest in the areas in and around Plant City, the world-renowned “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.” More than 500,000 visitors enjoy the festival’s headliner entertainment, youth livestock shows, rides, exhibits, parade, contests and fair food (including lots of strawberry shortcake). Farm Credit Agriculture breakfast (March 6) and Grand Parade luncheon (March 6). Phone: (813) 752-9194; www.flstrawberryfestival.com. March 25-26, 2023 Tampa GreenFest 2629 Bayshore Blvd.,Tampa — Held on the grounds of the Tampa Garden Club, the focus is on plants, garden tools and garden needs, with flower, garden and horticulture exhibits and demonstrations. Outside vendors and a juried flower show in the conservatory. Phone: (813) 251-5059; www.TampaGardenClub.com. April 2023 41st Annual AGRITECH Annual Florida Strawberry Growers Association Trade Show and Seminars. Phone: (813) 752-6822; www.flastrawberry.com.

• Agriculture, conservation, and farming educational stations and handouts • “Our Pollinators” mural painted by students (8 feet by 24 feet) • Painting stations for HSWCD Florida State Fair Rain Barrels • #BEEYourBest coloring stations • Hillsborough 100 tabloids • Watershed display / AND MORE!

Conservation is Everybody’s Business! Tampa Bay Times

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Conservation Matters – Kids Contests and Events In their mission to ensure “conservation is everybody’s business,” Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors start early, with programs, projects and activities that engage the creative talents of school-aged children throughout the year. Whether it’s the annual poster and speech contests, or the newly formed rain barrel decorating contest, or educational activities in the field and at fairs, festivals and events, HSWCD officials are fully on board with sending the right messages to today’s youth that conservation matters. Hands-on arts-and-crafts activities at fairs and festivals include making water bracelets (to learn about the water cycle), soil babies (to learn about soil nutrition), painting rain barrels (to learn about rainwater harvesting) and putting marker to paper to fill in #BEEYourself coloring pages that highlight 24 positive traits, including “BEE Generous” and “BEE Friendly.” “Throughout all these activities, we’re mission-driven to ensure youth of all ages have a myriad of opportunities to both learn about and share their understanding of how best to preserve our natural resources, and why it is so important to do so,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, executive director of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD). “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders and it’s in all our best interests that they understand the very real issues inherent in today’s conservation movement, as well as the challenges we face in the future. Our aim is to engage with them in creative, educational and hands-on activities that bring the message to light, that ‘conservation is everybody’s business,’ whether they live in rural, urban, suburban or inner-city communities.” Ag-Venture, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, is a hands-on agriculture education learning experience for third-grade students, focused on giving them a better understanding of where their food comes from and how agriculture matters in their daily lives. Ag-Venture, in the Ag Hall of Fame Building, is open during the Florida State Fair. It also involves two-week sessions in the spring and fall that collectively reach more than 3,000 kids. Visit: www.AgVenture.org. Envirothon (commonly known as the “Environmental Olympics”) is an environmental and natural resource conservation problem-solving, team-building and leadership experience and competition for high school students (grades 9-12 or ages 14-19) across the United States, Canada and China. Incorporating the principles of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), experiential learning and hands-on outdoor field experiences, students engage

their creative and critical-thinking skills as they work together in teams of five to tackle issues in five areas: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife, and current environmental issues. Visit: www.Envirothon.org. Land Judging is a soil survey contest for middle- and high-school students working in teams, who dig deep in recently dug earthen pits to determine soil makeup and conditions. Students learn how to make the types of landuse decisions that land managers in local communities make on a daily basis. Proper land-use decisions ensure the best uses of soil and water resources and reduce stress on the environment. Visit: www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu and search for “Land Judging.” The Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, launched in 2017 by the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, invites youth working alone or in groups, with their families or in school, club or other organizational settings, to explore a matter of interest in the ever-evolving field of conservation. Through their “Action Awareness”

Rain Barrel Decorating Contest — Driven by the theme, “Enriching the Environment,” the 2021 inaugural rain barrel contest shed light on rainwater harvesting, an initiative promoted as well by the local University of Florida Institute of Agricultural and Sciences Extension, in Seffner. Contest entrants were to complete the Hillsborough County Extension Service’s Rainwater Harvesting Workshop, available both online and in person. Entries were judged for monetary awards at the Hillsborough County Fair. Winners were given the option to auction off their barrels at the HSWCD Great Plant Auction, and in turn to receive the proceeds to benefit their respective youth programs. Barrels were showcased as well at both the Florida State Fair and the Florida Strawberry Festival. As an added bonus, additional rain barrels were painted at the HSWCD’s 1,800-square-foot exhibit at the state fair, which drew a lot of interest from fairgoers of all ages. Placing first in the inaugural contest was the “Barrel of Fun” rain barrel submitted by the On Target 4-H club,

“Enriching the Environment” 2021 RAIN BARREL DECORATING CONTEST

Rain Barrel Contest Winners: On Target 4-H Club (First Place, above left), FFA Students Lennard High School, Ruskin (Second Place, above right), and J.F. St. Martin FFA Chapter Plant City High School and Lutz K-8 Public School Students (Tie for Third Place). projects, Hillsborough 100 participants both learn and teach others through their work to reduce, reuse and recycle and to become better stewards of our natural resources. Projects cover a wide range of efforts, including waterway cleanups, road debris pick-ups, community gardening, pollinators, tree plantings, and more. While allowing for new and ongoing activities throughout the year, the challenge’s showcase period runs from Earth Day through Soil Conservation Week. Visit: www.hillsboroughswcd.com. YOUTH CONTESTS The Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District sponsors the Youth Plant Show at the Hillsborough County Fair, holds poster and speech contests on an annual basis and in 2021 debuted a new challenge involving rain barrels. On tap for 2022-23 is a photo contest as well.

which meets at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover. Placing second was a rain barrel submitted by FFA students at Lennard High School in Ruskin, which on the back features a wise owl and a hand-drawn image of Earl J. Lennard, the school’s namesake, sitting under a tree and reading a book. Placing third, in a tie, were rain barrels entered by the J.F. St. Martin FFA chapter at Plant City High, named posthumously for a beloved teacher, and by students at the Lutz K-8 public school. Poster and Speech Contests — HSWCD holds two poster contests annually, a summer contest and a schoolyear contest that is held in conjunction with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). Winning entries in multiple grade categories receive cash prizes. The NACD competition affords a chance to advance to area and state competitions, with the winners there advancing to national competition. The HSWCD has arranged for all

“Healthy Forest = Healthy Communities” 2021 POSTER CONTEST — PLACING FIRST

Placing First from left: Lily Anna Price (K-1), Adrian J. Colon-Gonzalez (2-3), Vivien Meshanko (4-6), John R. F. Humphreys (7-9) and Giulia Jones (10-12).



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Hillsborough entrants to receive a free ticket to the Hillsborough County Fair, where poster entries are put on display. The 2022 deadline for entries in the junior categories (K-1, grades 2-3 and 4-6) and senior categories (7-9 and 10-12) is Friday, April 29. The required theme (“Healthy Soil, Healthy Life”) must be included word-forword in the poster’s artwork, created to express the significance of the NACD soil stewardship theme (which changes every year). Any media can be used, including paint, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, stickers, paper or other materials. Poster size must be 14 inches by 22 inches, which is half the size of a standard poster board. Likewise, April 29 is the deadline for the HSWCD speech contest, which also focuses on the theme, “Healthy Soil, Healthy Life.” The highest-scoring speakers in two categories (grades 6-8 and grades 9-12) advance to area competition. Cash prizes are awarded for first-, second-, and thirdplace finishers and each non-winning speaker receives a prize as well. The 2020-21 HSWCD/NACD poster contest featured the NACD soil stewardship theme, “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.” First-place winners were Lily Anna Price (K-1), Adrian J. Colon-Gonzalez (2-3), Vivien Meshanko (4-6), John R.F. Humphreys (7-9) and Giulia Jones (1012). Placing second, Persistence Jones (K-1), Teagan Worley (2-3), Eloise Santiago (4-6), Brayden Newell (7-9) and Daniel Pena (10-12). Placing third, Samuel Christian Jackson (K-1), Jocelyn Jones (2-3), Avery Smith (4-6), Skyla Jones (7-9) and Alexis Cowles (10-12). Earning honorable mention, Olivia Koontz, Daniel Newell and NiHarika Sudarshan (K-1); Audrey Bryk and Cassandra Wilson (2-3); Daniella Bautista and Jordin Oluwadura Oremosu (4-6); Jonique Taylor (7-9); and Katelynn Lauricello and Ava Smail (10-12). In addition to the NACD competition, the HSWCD holds its own summer poster contest, which in 2021 required an interpretation of the theme, “Why Conservation Matters.” Winning entries in both poster contests are recognized at the annual Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge kickoff luncheon.

Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District

Proudly Supports:

• AFCD – Association of Florida Conservation Districts • FCDEA – Florida Conservation Districts Employees Association • SECDEA – Southeast Conservation District Employees Association • NACD – National Association of Conservation Districts • 4-H – FFA – Scouts

• Coalition of Community Gardens • Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association • The Community Roundtable • Florida Strawberry Growers Association • Florida State Beekeepers Association

• Florida State Fair

• Tampa Bay Beekeepers Association

• Florida Strawberry Festival

• Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame

• Hillsborough County Fair

• Hillsborough County Farm Bureau

• Florida Ag Expo

• Florida Farm Bureau Federation

• Fresh From Florida

• Operation Pollination

• Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce

• T.R.E.E., Inc. – Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc.

• Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce • Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce

• ESRAG – Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group

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Operation Pollination


Operation Pollination Resolution


Operation Pollination Resolution

Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, in partnership with Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco

Because pollinators play a crucial role in food production in the United States and worldwide and face serious decline, the undersigned seek to commit through this resolution to the creation, development Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, in partnership with Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco and execution of community-based pollinator projects. Because pollinators play a crucial role in food production in the United States and worldwide and face WHEREAS, bees, bats, birds and butterflies all pollinators a criticaltorole the transfer of pollen serious decline, the undersigned seek toare commit throughthat thisplay resolution theincreation, development from one flower to another; and and execution of community-based pollinator projects. WHEREAS, this transfer is essential for the flower to produce fruit and seed; and WHEREAS, bees, bats, birds and butterflies are all pollinators that play a critical role in the transfer of pollen WHEREAS, of the approximately 1,330 different crop plants grown worldwide for food, fiber and medicines, from one flower to another; and 75 percent are pollinated by animals and insects; and WHEREAS, this transfer is essential for the flower to produce fruit and seed; and WHEREAS, the value of food produced annually in the U.S. as a direct result of pollination is $15 billion; and WHEREAS, the approximately 1,330 different crop plantsSurvey, grownbeekeepers worldwide for food, andStates medicines, WHEREAS, of according to the BIP (Bee Informed Partnership) across thefiber United 75 percent are pollinated by animalscolonies and insects; andApril 2020 and April 2021, the second greatest lost 45.5 percent of their honeybee between

decline recorded in aof one-year period since the surveys started 2006;result and of pollination is $15 billion; and WHEREAS, the value food produced annually in the U.S. as ain direct WHEREAS, according these declines areBIP attributable to a number of environmental and man-induced factors; WHEREAS, to the (Bee Informed Partnership) Survey, beekeepers across the Unitedand States lost 45.5 percent of theirbutterfly honeybee colonies between April April 2021, the second greatest WHEREAS, the monarch population has dropped by2020 moreand than 80 percent over the past 20 years, decline in a one-year sincethere the surveys startedchance in 2006; with therecorded U.S. Geological Survey period estimating is a 60 perent thisand continued decline will wipe out the monarch’s twice-yearly migration over the 20 years; and WHEREAS, these declines are attributable to anext number of environmental and man-induced factors; and WHEREAS, the planting milkweed and population nectar-bearing is necessary help trend; WHEREAS, monarch butterfly hasplants dropped by more to than 80reverse percentthis over the past 20 years,

THEREFORE, IT RESOLVED, that individuals or groups resolution agree to conduct one wipe out with the U.S. BE Geological Survey estimating there is a 60signing perentthis chance this continued decline will or more projects benefiting migration pollinatorsover between April20 2022 andand April 2024 and report their programs, the monarch’s twice-yearly the next years; projects and activities to the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District and Rotary Club of Brandon WHEREAS, planting milkweed and nectar-bearing plants is necessary to help reverse this trend; Global Eco in conjunction with the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge and Operation Pollination. THEREFORE, IT RESOLVED, thatlimited individuals or groups signing this resolution agree habitats; to conduct one of Projects mayBE include, but are not to, development and restoration of pollinator planting or more projects benefiting pollinators between April 2022 and April 2024 andofreport their programs, wildflowers, milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plant species; presentation educational conservation projects and activities to for theyouth Hillsborough Soilestablishment and Water Conservation and Rotary ofand Brandon and pollinator programs and adults; and supportDistrict of bee colonies andClub hives; Global Eco in conjunction other similar programs. with the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge and Operation Pollination. Projects may include, but are not limited to, development and restoration of pollinator habitats; planting of Signed: Date: wildflowers, milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plant species; presentation of educational conservation and pollinator programs for youth and adults; establishment and support of bee colonies and hives; and Print: other similar programs. Group: Signed:

A Hillsborough Print:


100sign Conservation Challenge Action Awareness Project to the “Pollinator Partner Pledge,”

For info or visit www.hillsboroughswcd.com


A Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge Action Awareness Project



Sunday, April 24, 2022 |

Tampa Bay Times


HSWCD Celebrates 2022 Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge with New Program Following its commitment to bring conservation experiences to inner-city, urban, suburban and rural communities alike, the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District has added a new program to its 2022 Conservation Challenge lineup.This two-year program,“Operation Pollination,” is being presented in conjunction with Rotary International, through the Rotary Club of Brandon Global Eco.This collaboration will make Hillsborough County the first county in the southern United States supporting this worldwide initiative. A critical decline in pollinator populations over the past 20-plus years is impacting food production worldwide. Bees, bats, birds and butterflies are all crucial to the pollination of a large percentage of the world’s crops, including fruits, nuts and vegetables.“The purpose of Operation Pollination is to get everyone involved in doing their small part to protect our vital pollinators,” according to Betty Jo Tompkins, HSWCD Executive Director.“We look forward to a large number of creative projects to be implemented between now and April 2024,” states Tompkins. Operation Pollination offers everyone, including businesses, churches, civic clubs, educational institutions, families, governmental entities, as well as youth groups and others, opportunities to carry out pollinator enhancement projects.These include the development and restoration of pollinator habitats; planting of wildflowers,

milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plant species; educational presentations; establishment and support of bee colonies and hives and other similar projects. The importance of pollinators was featured recently at the 2022 Florida State Fair, where HSWCD presented an 1,800 square foot exhibit on conservation that featured an 8 ft by 24 ft student-painted mural on “Bees, Bats, Birds and Butterflies, Our Perfect Pollinators.” Participants can sign the pledge at: www.hillsboroughswcd.com, complete a project, submit their results and be recognized in the 2023 Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge tabloid. Projects will also be recognized at the Challenge’s annual Kickoff Luncheon, which this year will feature two new categories: Student Conservationist of the Year and Conservation Family of the Year. The 2022 Student Conservationist is Katie Tyson of Riverview High School. Being recognized for the Family award is 2021 winner, the Holt family and 2022 winner, the Humphreys family. Both have been engaged in numerous projects in conjunction with HSWCD and 4-H to help promote soil and water conservation. Further details on Operation Pollination and other HSWCD Hillsborough 100 Action Awareness Projects may be found at: www.hillsboroughswcd.com, or by contacting: Betty Jo Tompkins, (813) 477-8332 or (813) 752-1474, Ext. 3.


Hillsborough 100 Challenge! Gather your friends, family, school, business or civic group to create and develop a conservation project during 2022 and report back to us. It’s just that simple. Call: (813) 477-8332 or log on: www.hillsboroughswcd.com HILLSBOROUGH SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT 201 S. Collins St., Suite 202, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-1474, Ext. 3 | Fax: (855) 464-1961 www.hillsboroughswcd.com ELECTED SUPERVISORS:

Kathy Eckdahl. Chair, Seat 1 Andrew Brooks, Vice-Chair, Seat 5 Dr. Sonja Brookins, Treasurer, Seat 4 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Betty Jo Tompkins, (813) 477-8332 bjt6890@yahoo.com tompkinsb@hillsboroughcounty.org

Karen Cox Jarock, Supervisor, Seat 2 Mark Proctor, Supervisor, Seat 3 COMPUTER GRAPHICS

Linda Chion

Tampa Bay Times


Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


Upcoming Extension Events

Landscape BMPs – Webinar When: Weds.,April 27, 2022, 8:30 am-12:30 pm Description: Two hours of Core, and two hours of Landscape and Fertilizer CEUs for urban pesticide/fertilizer license renewal. More information and registration: www.eventbrite.com/e/ landscape-ceu-review-webinar-registra tion-201000025487?aff=ebdsop orgprofile

Vegetable Microirrigation When: Sat.,April 30, 2022, 9-10 am Where: UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL Learn how to grow vegetables with the convenience of a microirrigation kit, which conserves water and saves time.To register, go to the Local Events Calendar at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsbor ough. In-person class size is limited to 70 people and registration is required. Zoom option available. Green Industries Best Management Practices Certification for Fertilizer

License – In Person When: Tues., May 3, 2022, 8:30 am-4:40 pm Where: UF/IFAS Extension, Hillsborough County, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL 33584 Description: Florida law requires that all commercial fertilizer applicators must have a Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Certification (LUF) from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) (s. 482.1562, F.S.). Commercial applicators must become GI-BMP Certified by the UF/IFAS/FDEP program to be eligible for the FDACS LUF. More information and registration: www.prohort.eventbrite.com

CEUs2U – Webinar When: Thur., May 12, 2022, 9 am-1pm Description: Four hours of CEUs for urban pesticide/fertilizer license renewal. Category CEUs focus on palms. Maximum 4 CEUs: Core: 2 Ch. 482 or Ch. 487 Landscape: 2 in L&O, LLO, LCLM, CLO, or O&T More information and registration: www.prohort.eventbrite.com

Composting Workshop When: Sat., May 14, 2022, 8:30-9:30 am Where: UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL Composting: Learn how to put everyday food waste and organic materials to work for you! To register, go to the Local Events Calendar at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough. In-person class size is limited to 70 people and registration is required. Zoom option available. Microirrigation Workshop When: Sat., May 14, 2022, 9:45-10:45 am Where: UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL Learn how you can conserve water while maintaining healthy and attractive landscape beds. To register, go to the Local Events Calendar at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough. In-person class size is limited to 70 people and registration is required. Zoom option available.

Rainwater Harvesting Workshop When: Sat., May 14, 2022, 11 am-12 pm Where: UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL Learn how to collect rainwater for ornamental plant irrigation while reducing erosion and stormwater runoff, and the use of non-potable water for irrigation. To register, go to the Local Events Calendar at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough. In-person class size is limited to 70 people and registration is required. Zoom option available. Fertilizer BMPs – Webinar When:Weds., May 25, 2022, 8:30 am-12:30 pm Description: Two hours of Core, and two hours of Landscape and Fertilizer CEUs for urban pesticide/fertilizer license renewal. More information and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ fertilizer-licensing-ceus-webinar -registration-201002512927?aff =ebdsoporgprofile Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance and Limited Lawn and Ornamental Pesticide License Exam Review – Webinar When:Weds., June 8, 2022, 8:30 am-3:30 pm Description: The class provides a review to prepare for the LCLM and LLO exams.The LCLM is required for landscape professionals to apply CAUTION pesticides on urban ornamental landscape beds.The LLO is required for governmental entities and private property owners to apply pesticides to urban properties owned by the employer.The class provides the 6 hours of classroom training required by FDACS to qualify for the LCLM exam. You must apply to take exams at the following link and receive a voucher number.

Apply for exam voucher: https://pesticideexam.ifas.ufl.edu/ More information and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ commercial-ltd-lawn-ornamentalceu-review-webinar-registration201028992127?aff=ebdsoporgprofile Building Financial Stability When: Ongoing, learn at your own pace Where: UF/IFAS Extension Online Class Learn about cash flow management, credit scores, consumer loans, and financial goals. Registration: https://reg.distance.ufl .edu/reg/Activity/Details/92a4b0c5 d083432b818452107c5f01b1 Florida Master Money Mentor Training When: Ongoing, learn at your own pace Where: UF/IFAS Extension Online Class This online training has 9 modules with topics such as financial decision making, motivational interviewing, cash flow management, consumer loans, building a positive credit history, and saving for future goals.The modules are self-paced and take approximately 1-2 hours to complete. Registration: https://ifas-youth famcomm.catalog.instructure.com/ courses/floridammm Financial Mentoring When: Ongoing Where: Web conference Description: One-on-one financial education on basic personal finance topics. To request a 1-1 session, complete the form at: https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/ form/SV_50UEqmPXu6monIh

Due to continuing event changes and restrictions, please see the HSWCD website:

www.hillsboroughswcd.com to find a complete listing of upcoming events. 12CC


Sunday, April 24, 2022 | Tampa Bay Times

Nothing’s More Fun Than U-Picks for Everyone!

Everyone who’s young or just young at heart enjoyed the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District’s Strawberry U-Pick held recently at Fancy Farms in Plant City. For the second consecutive year, the Grooms family opened their field in support of youth programs and scholarships sponsored by the Conservation District. Well known for their tremendous generosity, the family consists of Carl, Dee Dee, son Dustin, daughter-in-law Alison, daughter Kristi and granddaughter Skylar. Dustin runs the 125-acre farm, while his sister operates the nearby Fancy Farms Market at 5204 Drane Field Road. The berries were bright red and delicious and the weather was wonderful for the 2022 U-Pick. Many patrons raved that these were the “best U-Pick berries they

had ever gotten.” In addition, the Grooms also held their annual U-Pick in support of the Hillsborough County 4-H Youth Foundation for its 15th year, carrying on the tradition that “serving others is just in our DNA.” For those who missed the U-Picks, you can still stop by the market until the end of June to enjoy luscious homemade strawberry treats, as well as an array of blueberries and other excellent produce. Market visitors will enjoy a special treat beginning in mid-May when the adjoining fields will be golden with huge sunflowers. For further information, call: (813) 478-3486. HSWCD is also hoping to hold a Blueberry U-Pick later this spring, most likely in May. For details, call: (813) 477-8332 or visit the HSWCD website, www.hillsboroughswcd.com.

PLANT AUCTION SAVE THE DATE Save the date for the 2022 HSWCD 6th Annual Great Plant Auction, 2 pm, Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Hillsborough County Fair. Don’t miss this opportunity to purchase high-quality plant materials at reasonable prices, grown and donated by local nurseries. Available at auction will be annuals, perennials, landscape and butterfly plants, ferns, bushes, as well as tree and plant nutrition items. All proceeds will benefit HSWCD youth programs, Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge projects and agricultural scholarships. New this year will be the sale of student-grown plants to benefit their 4-H and FFA projects. Serving as auctioneer for the 6th year will be well-known nurseryman, Roy Davis. For further information, please call Betty Jo Tompkins, (813) 477-8332. Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


Special Thanks

to Our Cooperating Partners

Rotary Brandon Global Eco Plant City Lions



Sunday, April 24, 2022 | Tampa Bay Times

to Our Cooperating Partners

Duggal & Sons Blueberry Farm

• Progress Village Community Garden • Seeds of Faith Community Garden at Bay Life Church • Sulphur Springs Community Garden • Tampa Bay Community Garden at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Church

• 1 Body Ministries Community Garden • Apollo Beach Community Garden • Faith Lutheran GIFT Garden Center • Apollo Beach Community Food, Forest & Garden

• Forest Hills Presbyterian Church Community Garden • Hope Community Garden • Plant City Commons Community Garden • University Area Community Garden

cialty Adv er Spe ti wn

LC g, L sin

Lacy Br o

Special Thanks

• Vincentian Faith and Grace Church Garden • Waters Ave. Church Community Garden • Wellswood Community Garden • YBOR Street Community Garden

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


Coalition of Community Gardens Brings Together Hillsborough’s Garden Communities

Roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening gloves and join hundreds of other individuals throughout Tampa Bay who share a passion and love for the outdoors and growing their own food. Started in 2015 with just six gardens (Plant City Commons, Seeds of Hope, Seminole Heights,Tampa Eden Project, Temple Terrace Farm 2 School, and University Area Community Garden), the Coalition of Community Gardens today boasts a membership of over 25 gardens within Hillsborough County and others in Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas. Each community garden develops its own educational programs, addressing the best practices in effective use of irrigation in each garden, as well as utilizing composting principles and other methods of adding organic material to the soil without the use of chemical fertilizers. Regenerative gardening practices are used to help participants become independent growers of their own food. The gardens also utilize pest management that avoids use of pesticides. In addition to growing their own



food, gardeners have the opportunity to enhance their understanding of good nutritional principles.At many gardens this starts at an early age, with both formal and informal programs for youth. In fact, getting involved in gardening helps

Sunday, April 24, 2022 | Tampa Bay Times

children learn where their food comes from, connects neighbors, promotes intergenerational and cross-cultural interactions, enhances property values, and improves the stability of soil, which in turn promotes eating local and re-

ducing each person’s carbon footprint. Other benefits include improved air quality, increased biodiversity of plants and animals, increased physical activity, and improved mental health and relaxation. Several of the gardens are located and serve residents in food desert areas where food insecurity is a reality. Many community gardens host activities throughout the year and the coalition meets annually in April, as well as upcoming meetings scheduled for Oct. 20, 2022 and Jan.19, 2023. In addition, the coalition will hold its 5th annual “Grow Gardens” Conference at Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. In support of the community garden movement and the Coalition of Community Gardens, Mayor Jane Castor proclaimed April “Community Gardening Month” in Tampa. Just some of the exciting projects underway at individual community gardens include: Apollo Beach Forest Community Garden – A veteran-donated

community health by increasing access to fresh produce through community gardening.There is a demonstration vegetable garden, pollinator garden, raised bed gardens at Middleton High School and seminars to involve everyone in the community. Sweetwater Organic Community Farm – Expanding their relationship with Zoo Tampa, Sweetwater is receiving 3-5 dump trucks of “zoo poo” weekly, as well as a stream of mulch from local tree companies to convert into compost.The Farm holds an array of activities for the public and an annual fundraiser in April. Tampa Heights Community Garden – Since using a cover crop of sunn hemp (which grows to over 6 feet tall) in 2021 resulted in a fantastic harvest for 2022, the garden will use this again for their upcoming summer cover crop. Temple Terrace Community Garden – This garden has set up a compost drop off section so members and the community can participate in

rowboat is being used as the centerpiece for a children’s learning garden, as part of the Recreation Center’s “Tiny Tots” program for 4-5 year olds.A summer kid’s camp for 6-12 year olds is also planned. Brandon “Seeds of Faith” Community Garden – regularly donates a portion of their harvest to ECHO (Emergency Community Help Organization), a social services program. Healthy 22nd Street Garden Steps Program – This multi-agency collaboration, including the Metropolitan Planning Organization, is working to achieve the mission of improving

supporting the use of organic principles to enhance their soil, while other gardens participate in the “Make Soil” program. VISTA Gardens – VISTA Garden’s two hundred foot solar-powered well is used to irrigate their organic gardens. They also produce hundreds of pounds of soil annually through their active composting operation. On April 30 the gardens will host a celebration open to the public.The event starts at 11:30 am and will feature food, fun and friends. Directors of the Coalition of Community Gardens are Kitty Wallace, Lena Young Green, Michele Ogilvie and Travis Malloy. For further information, visit: www.communitygardenstb.org.

Community Gardens in Hillsborough County 1body Ministries 127th and Tinsley Terrace Amanda@1bodyministries.org 813 Hood Garden 10004 N. 11th St. Dee Morales deegardens813@gmail.com Apollo Beach Community Garden Apollo Beach County Park Paula, pahrn@yahoo.com Forest Hills Presbyterian Church Garden lswiger@tampabay.rr.com H.O.P.E. Community Garden 4902 N. 22nd St., Tampa, Suzette Dean, bministr@yahoo.com Mustard Seed Garden at Lutz Community Church 601 Sunset Lane, Lutz, Ardell O’Neal, adosr6@gmail.com

New St. Paul AME Church Garden 4603 N. 42nd St., Reverend, admin@newsaintpaul.org Plant City Commons Community Garden Karen Elizabeth 2001 E. Cherry St., Plant City 12circle8@gmail.com Progress Village Community Garden, Progress Village Civic Council, (813) 741-3604 Robes Park Village Community Garden, Reva Iman, imanreva10@aol.com, 3518 N. Avon Ave., Tampa Seeds of Faith Community Garden at Bay Life Church 1017 N. Kingsway Rd., Brandon, Steve, smckinnon97@gmail.com

Seffner CommUNITY Garden 406 N. Kingsway Ave., joy.ingram@verizon.net

Kitty Wallace, Lena Young Green, 992-0940, kittwal@aol.com

Seminole Heights Community Garden, Colleen Parker 6114 River Terrace, Tampa info.shcg@gmail.com

Temple Terrace Community Garden, 329 S. Riverhills Dr., Temple Terrace, Mimi Jenkins, mimijenkins@gmail.com

St.Vincent dePaul Community Garden, 9807 N. 56th St., Kelly, kelly@livesimply nourished.com

University Area Harvest Hope Community Garden 14013 N. 22nd St.,Tampa, Alex Baron, abaron@uacdc.org

Sulphur Springs Community Garden, 1506 Eskimo Ave., Whitwam Organics Sustainable Living Project 918 W. Sligh Ave., Georgea Snyder, slpgeorgea@gmail.com Tampa Heights Community Garden 605 E. Frances Ave.,

VISTA Gardens, Carrollwood 13572 S. Village Dr., Bill West bw.vistagardens@gmail.com Waters Avenue Church Community Garden and Food Forest, 609 W. Waters Ave., Jessica Brenner jeccabrerr@gmail.com

Tampa Bay Times

Wellswood Community Garden 4819 N. Mendenhall Dr., Tampa, Kitty Wallace, kittwal@aol.com Ybor Street Community Garden, 2924 Ybor St., Jessica Brenner, jeccabrerr@gmail.com Meacham Urban Farm 1108 E. Scott St. Sweetwater Organic Community Farm 6942 W. Comanche Ave. For more information: www .communitygardenstb.org; communitygardenstb@ gmail.com

| Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


Farm Bureaus: Leaders in Agricultural Advocacy at Local, State and National Levels Since its inception, Farm Bureau has grown to be the largest agricultural organization within the United States, advocating for agriculture at local, state and national levels. Known to most as the “Voice of Agriculture,” Farm Bureau strives to support positive governmental policies that in turn support a vibrant agricultural community. Hillsborough County Farm Bureau The Hillsborough County Farm Bureau was Florida’s 2nd county farm bureau, founded in 1942, shortly after Dade County. Today it is one of 60 organizations statewide, representing both agricultural and non-agricultural interests. In Hillsborough, Farm Bureau works in partnership with the Agricultural Economic Development Council, part of the county’s Ag Industry Development Program. Within the organization, Farm Bureau promotes virtually all of Florida’s agricultural commodities, many of which are grown within the county’s boundaries, including strawberries, blueberries, vegetable row crops, aquaculture and apiary, cattle and citrus. Benefits from agriculture are enjoyed by the general public through access to a fresh and plentiful food supply, aquifer recharge, community economic diversity, net surplus in tax revenues, rural and wide open spaces, as well as wildlife habitats. Farm Bureau programs include activities such as the critically acclaimed “Ag Venture” program to educate youth on how and where their food comes from,


| Sunday, April 24, 2022 |

Tampa Bay Times

Young Farmers and Ranchers activities and Women’s Leadership, among others. Each year HCFB hosts an annual meeting and awards dinner during the month of October. Hillsborough’s Farm Bureau program is operated through its Board of Directors, under the leadership of President Dennis Carlton Jr., with day-to-day activities handled by its Executive Director. Judi Whitson served in this capacity for the past 30 years, retired in April and the Board of Directors named their Plant City offices in her honor. The new Executive Director is Kaylee Poppell, who comes from an education background. For further information, contact (813) 685-9121, or www.hcfarm bureau.org. Offices are located at 305 S. Wheeler St., Plant City, Florida 33563. The Women’s 2023 Leadership Conference will be held March 24-26 in Panama City, Florida. Florida Farm Bureau Federation The establishment of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation grew indirectly out of the Great Depression of the 1930s when Florida farmers found themselves deeply in debt and under control of shippers and handlers who paid growers minimal amounts for their agricultural production. Florida citrus growers in the late 1930s were being paid just five cents per box for on-the-tree grapefruit. This led to the establishment of Florida Citrus Growers, Inc. And then in 1941 to the creation of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.


As the years passed, the Federation continued to grow and adapt to the changing agricultural landscape. In fact, during the recent COVID crisis, agriculture moved to the forefront as Florida’s largest economic driver, and today continues to share that role with tourism.

evening’s “Taste of Florida” reception, serving Hillsborough County-produced food. Continuing the Farm Bureau leadership tradition is Jeb Smith, elected as President in 2021. In addition, Dan West represents District 15 on the Florida Farm Bureau Board, which covers Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties. For further information, contact Florida Farm Bureau Federation: (352) 3788100, or write to: Post Office Box 147030, Gainesville, FL 32614; www.floridafarm bureau.org.

Protecting the role of agriculture in Florida’s future is critical to the state and that’s why advocacy is so important. As noted by Florida Farm Bureau immediate past president John Hoblick, “If you’re American Farm not at the table, Bureau Federation you just might be American Farm the one on the Bureau Federation plate.” In that is an independent, While Hillsborough County is known regard, Florida non-governmental, for its wonderful and delicious Farm Bureau voluntary organizastrawberries and blueberries, research maintains offices tion governed by and into new varieties of blackberries and in Tallahassee representing farm raspberries is under development. and hosts a Farm and ranch families Bureau Day at united for the purpose of analyzthe Capitol annually. The Hillsborough ing their problems and formulating Soil and Water Conservation District action to achieve economic opportuparticipates in this event and in the

nity, educational improvement and social enhancement. According to its mission statement, “The American Farm Bureau Federation is the Voice of Agriculture. We are farm and ranch families working together to build a sustainable future of safe and abundant food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world.” Among AFBF’s programs are advocacy, education, empowerment and membership. These areas include the Young Farmer and Rancher program, Women’s Leadership program, Promotion & Education and Learning & Development. Serving as president of the five-million-plus-member organization since 2016 is Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a third-generation cattle and poultry farmer from Georgia.

Conservation Family of the Year

2021 Conservation Family of the Year – The Holt Family is recognized for their commitment to assisting HSWCD programs, projects and activities.

The American Farm Bureau Federation will hold its 2023 national convention Jan. 6-11 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For additional information, contact (202) 406-3600, or AFBF, 600 Maryland Ave. SW, Suite 1000 W, Washington, D.C. 20024; www.fb.org. 2022 Conservation Family of the Year – The Humphreys Family was selected for promoting HSWCD Programs at fairs and festivals.


d. ct m d y,

n t

r rs


Florida Farm Bureau Board Members include Dennis Carlton Jr., Jake Raburn, Buddy Coleman, Tony Lopez, Jake Cremer, Gayle Yanes, Tiffany Dale, Lawrence McClure, n. Travis Council, Christina Andrlik, Carl Bauman, Michelle Williamson, and Drew Futch. Tampa Bay Times


Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Service

Educating and Serving the Public Extension programming disseminated by university-affiliated agents working with local agriculturalists and residents in inner-city, urban, suburban and rural settings is at the very root of the UF/IFAS mission. Federal land grant universities, such as the University of Florida in Gainesville, located throughout the United States were first established in 1862 under President Abraham Lincoln. Their role was originally focused essentially only on agriculture, but today’s extension programs offer that and so much more! Through the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), UF provides Extension services



to all 67 Florida counties, with its Hillsborough offices located in Seffner. On the agricultural side, programs include aquaculture, agronomic crops, citrus, greenhouses, herbs, livestock, nurseries, organic production, small farms and vegetables. All of these, and others, support a vibrant industry with an annual output in excess of $160 billion. But beyond farm and field, Extension enhances lives in businesses, homes and schools through a myriad of programs that provide “solutions for your life.” Certification courses for industry professionals; consumer education; financial

Sunday, April 24, 2022 | Tampa Bay Times

Photo Credit: Passion Flower by J. RIvas

management; food safety, preservation and storage; garden-

ing; health, wellness and nutrition; hurricane preparedness; mold and mildew prevention; parenting and family life; personal taxes; water and environmental conservation and youth development are just some of the offerings. According to UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Director Stephen Gran, “Virtually everything we do in Extension has a link to conservation and sustainability.” Further, Gran reports, ”Everything Extension does involves a partner of some type, and we probably have hundreds of partners.” In fact, the Hillsborough Extension program even coordinates the annual “Fresh from Florida” opening day breakfast at the Florida State Fair featuring an expansive array of Florida commodity groups. Count among them state and local farm bureaus; state strawberry, blueberry, and watermelon associations; the US Department of Agriculture (USDA); the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS); the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscapers Association; Tampa Bay Beekeepers; and Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District.

Extension Agents offer technical assistance in all types of programming associated with their areas of specialization. In their work they link teaching, research and science with families, farmers, growers, homeowners, landowners, and retailers. Two UF-based research stations are located within the county. The UF /IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center located in Balm strives “to develop and disseminate new scientific knowledge and technologies to help our growers be competitive in commercial agriculture” according to Center Director and researcher Jack Rechigl. Offered at the Center are programs on soil and water science, plant pathology, environmental horticulture, agriculture economics, entomology and nematology, and each November the Center hosts the Florida Ag Expo. The other Hillsborough facility is the UF/IFAS Tropical Agricultural Laboratory in Ruskin, which focuses on aquatic production, animal health and non-native species. Another critical component


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services…Serving Our Citizens

of Extension is youth development through the 4-H program, which is based on the premise of “head, heart, health and hands.” Any youth in public, private, parochial, home or virtual school is invited to join the 4-H program and participate in a range of activities that include citizenship, healthy living, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The 4-H program in Hillsbor-

ough County is supported by the Hillsborough County 4-H Youth Foundation, which holds an annual 4-H U-Pick at Fancy Farms, among other activities with the 4-H Association. The 2023 U-Pick will be held the Saturday following Valentine’s Day. For further information, call: (813) 744-5519, or visit 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584; https://sfyl .ifas.edu/hillsborough.

Agriculture represents the state’s second leading industry, directly behind tourism.As such,The Florida Department of Agriculture wears many hats as it serves the state’s burgeoning population. Jurisdictions of the department, known as FDACS, include the responsibility for food safety, gasoline pump inspections, and concealed weapons, among other activities. Founded in the Florida Constitution in 1868 as the Office of Commissioner of Immigration, its primary role was to attract settlers to Florida. Within three years it was combined with the Office of Surveyor General to create the Commissioner of Lands and Immigration. In 1885 it became the Commissioner of Agriculture, until 1969 when the Legislature added Consumer Services to its name and responsibilities. Nicole “Nikki” Fried is the current Commissioner of Agriculture, which remains a cabinet-level position. In

her capacity she supervises multiple divisions and offices, including Administration;Agricultural Environmental Services;Agricultural Law Enforcement;Agricultural Water Policy;Animal Industry;Aquaculture;

Cabinet Affairs; Communications; Consumer Services; Energy; Florida Forest Service; Food, Nutrition and Wellness; Food Safety; Fruit and Vegetables; General Counsel; Inspector General; Licensing; Marketing and Development and Plant Industry. With over 300 agricultural commodities being produced within Florida, a critical role of FDACS is the worldwide promotion of Florida

products.A highly successful effort in this regard is the “Fresh from Florida” program, of which HSWCD is a part. In fact, consumer surveys have proven that commodities with the Fresh from Florida label are more likely to be purchased by consumers because of higher confidence in the quality of the product. HSWCD is also tied directly with the Office of Agricultural Water Policy through extensive cost-share programs for bona fide agricultural operators with a crop in the ground or animals above.These programs, which incorporate BMPs (Best Management Practices), fund conservation projects at a 75% rate up to $50,000, helping farmers protect Florida’s critical natural resources. Questions? 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352) or 1-800-FLAYUDA (1-800-352-9832) Monday–Friday 8 am–5 pm, Live Chat. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800.

Hillsborough County 4-H

SUMMER DAY CAMPS 6-10 11-15 25-29 1-5

4-H Tailgating

Cooking Up Science

Florida Youth Naturalist Week 1

Florida Youth Naturalist Week 2

An Equal Opportunity Institution If any accommodations are needed, please contact Brandi Yancy at 813-744-5519; brani54@ufl.edu. Requests should be made as soon as possible but at least 2 weeks prior to camp.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


Florida Strawberry Growers Association While it might seem improbable, Plant City, Florida, the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World” actually didn’t start out with strawberry production. In fact, over 100 years ago when Plant City namesake Henry Bradley Plant, railroad builder and developer, founded the community and built a railroad from Tampa to there, he envisioned


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it to move fresh produce from that area to the growing population to the west. When the town was incorporated in 1885, the main crop was actually cotton. That soon changed to strawberries and the rest is history. Virtually the entire United States winter strawberry crop is grown in Hillsborough County, with over

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11,000 acres under production, representing an economic impact of over $1.1 billion annually. With industry growth came the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, dedicated to assisting strawberry farmers through research support, marketing, and an array of other

programs and services. Started in 1982, FSGA now includes the Florida Strawberry Patent Service Corporation, which promotes patented varieties, protects patents, develops overseas markets and returns a majority of royalty revenues back into research through the University of Florida. FSGA also supports a sister organization, the Florida Strawberry Research and Education Foundation, which develops initiatives to enhance flavor, increase plant disease resistance, improve production methodologies, increase efficiencies in water use, provide in-house tissue culturing, and improve management of invasive insect species, among other issues. In addition to supporting research, FSGA has awarded more than $300,000 in college scholarships to youth, supports 4-H and FFA programs and participates in fairs and festivals annually. The Associ-

ation also makes its facilities available for many Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District programs, projects and activities throughout the year. Heading the talented FSGA staff are Executive Director Kenneth Parker; Sue “Strawberry Sue” Harrell, Director of Marketing; Tiffany Dale, Director of Business Administration and Finance; and newest member Brianne Reichenbach, Director of Member Services. Currently serving as FSGA officers are: President Tres McQuaig; Vice-President Jake Raburn; Secretary Hilda Castillo and Treasurer Steve Mathis. FSGA offices are located at 13138 Lewis Gallagher Road, Dover, FL 33527. Phone (813) 752-6822; Fax (813) 752-2167. Mailing address: Post Office Drawer 2550, Plant City, FL 33564; www.floridastrawberry.org

Annual Conservation and Environmental Celebrations April 2022 through March 2023

Looking for a conservation project or activity you can participate in throughout the year? To help gather some ideas, we’ve put together an extensive list of key dates to mark the many different facets of conservation. Working alone or in a group, connect your project to one of these initiatives. When it’s complete, report back to the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District at (813) 752-1474 Ext. 3 or (813) 477-8332. You just might be one of the winning groups honored at the HSWCD Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge Kickoff for 2023. Visit: www.hillsboroughswcd.com. MONTH OF APRIL • Keep America Beautiful Month • National Garden Month APRIL 5-9 • National Wildlife Week APRIL 14 • National Gardening Day APRIL 22 • Earth Day • National Environmental Education Week (week before Earth Day) APRIL 24 to MAY 1 • National Association of Conservation Districts 67th Soil Stewardship Week

MAY 3 • National Garden Meditation Day

JUNE 5 • World Environment Day

JULY 28 • World Nature Conservation Day

MAY 20 • World Bee Day • National Bike-To-Work Day • National Endangered Species Day

JUNE 8 • World Oceans Day

AUGUST 12 • International Youth Day

JUNE 15 • Global Wind Day

AUGUST 20 • World Honey Bee Day (third Saturday of August)

MAY 22 • International Day for Biological Diversity MAY 29 • National Learn About Composting Day

APRIL 26 • Audubon Day

MONTH OF JUNE • Perennial Gardening Month • National Dairy Month • National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month • National Oceans Month • National Rivers Month

APRIL 28 • Stop Food Waste Day

JUNE 1 • World Reef Awareness Day

APRIL 29, 2022 • National Arbor Day (last Friday of April)

JUNE 4 (first Saturday of June) • National Trails Day • National Prairie Day

MONTH OF MAY • Gifts from the Garden Month • Garden for Wildlife Month • National Strawberry Month • American Wetlands Month

JUNE 4-12 • National Fishing and Boating Week (first full week of June)

JUNE 17 • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

AUGUST 23 – SEPTEMBER 1 • World Water Week

JUNE 20-26 • National Pollinator Week (last full week of June)

AUGUST 25 • National Park Service Founders Day

JUNE 22 • World Rainforest Day

AUGUST 27-28 • International Bat Night (last full weekend of August)

MONTH OF JULY • National Blueberry Month JULY 1-7 • Clean Beaches Week JULY 10 • Pick Blueberries Day JULY 11 • World Population Day JULY 26 • International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove System

AUGUST 30 • National Beach Day SEPTEMBER 4 • National Wildlife Day

SEPTEMBER 17 • International Coastal Cleanup Day • National Cleanup Day (third Saturday of September) SEPTEMBER 18 • World Water Monitoring Day SEPTEMBER 21 • Zero Emissions Day SEPTEMBER 22 • World Car-Free Day SEPTEMBER 24 • National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday of September)

MONTH OF NOVEMBER • Manatee Awareness Month

FEBRUARY 24 • National Skip the Straw Day

NOVEMBER 15 • America Recycles Day

FEBRUARY 27 • National Strawberry Day

NOVEMBER 17 • National Hiking Day

MARCH 3 • World Wildlife Day

NOVEMBER 19 • National Camp Day

MARCH 14 • National Learn About Butterflies Day

NOVEMBER 21 • World Fisheries Day DECEMBER 4 • World Wildlife Conservation Day

SEPTEMBER 25 • World Rivers Day

DECEMBER 5 • World Soil Day

OCTOBER 4 • World Animal Day • World Habitat Day (first Monday of October)

DECEMBER 11 • International Mountain Day

SEPTEMBER 7 • International Day of Clean Air

OCTOBER 13 • International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

SEPTEMBER 16 • International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

OCTOBER 16 • World Food Day OCTOBER 17 • International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

DECEMBER 14 • National Energy Conservation Day 2023 JANUARY 20 • Florida Arbor Day (third Friday in January)

MARCH 18 • Global Recycling Day MARCH 21 • International Day of Forests • National Flower Day (first official day of spring) MARCH 22 • World Water Day • National Ag Day MARCH 26 • Earth Hour MARCH 31 • Manatee Appreciation Day (last Wednesday of March) • National Farm Workers Day

FEBRUARY 2 • World Wetlands Day

Agricultural Industry Development Leads the Way in Protecting Hillsborough County’s Agricultural Businesses and Resources Previously operated under Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Department, the Agricultural Industry Development Program was developed to enhance a business atmosphere conducive to the continuation and extension of agriculture for the benefit of all residents. In this regard, major program goals include discouraging premature conversion of productive farmland to non-agricultural use, promoting expansion and relocation of agricultural firms within the county, improving the county’s agricultural economic stability through identification and resolution of barriers to the expansion or continuation of agriculture, and minimizing the impacts of regulatory processes on agriculture. Established in 1998 by the Board of County Commissioners, the Agricultural Economic Development Council membership is as diverse as aquaculture, cattle, fruits and vegetables, ornamental

horticulture and strawberries. In addition, members represent Farm Bureau, as well as other at-large agricultural interests. Currently serving as AEDC Chairman is Dennis Carlton, owner of Audubon Ranch, representing the cattle industry. An extensive and nationally recognized Veterans in Agriculture program is also handled through the Agency. This program offers career exploration opportunities in precision agriculture, energy crops, agribusiness, food science and technology, and aquaculture, among other fields. For further information on Ag Industry Development programs, projects and activities, contact Simon Bollin, Manager of Agribusiness Industry Development at bollins@hcflgov .net or call (813) 744-5519.

Tampa Bay Times


Sunday, April 24, 2022 |


Celebrating Florida’s “Special Dessert” What’s Florida’s new official dessert? None other than strawberry shortcake, a dessert consisting of a biscuit with a touch of cake; luscious, delicious bright red Florida strawberries and a natural Florida dairy topping. Approved during this year’s legislative session, the timing was perfect for strawberry lovers, with Gov. DeSantis signing the bill on day seven of the 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival, which wrapped up its 87th year at the Florida Strawberry Fairgrounds in Plant City on March 11.The Governor was treated to shortcakes made by Dee Dee Grooms of Fancy Farms and by Sue Harrell of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Indeed, Plant City’s status as the world-renowned “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World” makes it a no-brainer that the state dessert would be so aptly named, at least for the folks in the greater Plant city area, where according to the legislation,“more than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted, accounting for 75 percent of the [nation’s] winter strawberry crop.” Still, fans of Key lime pie raised their concerns, and especially so in Key West, the namesake city of the pie


born roughly 130 years ago. Count among them Key West Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, who along with author David Sloan and chef/rum distiller Paul Menta formed the Conch Republic

Key Lime Pie Council.The council posted a change.org petition that as of mid-March drew more than 7,000 signatures. The petition notes that while “Key Lime Pie is a native Floridian dessert that originated in the Florida Keys,” strawberry shortcake “is a non-native dessert that originated in Europe.” The petition called upon legislators to allow for strawberry shortcake and Key lime pie to “share the limelight as

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Florida’s official desserts,” as “best cake” and “best pie,” respectively. But whichever way you slice it, the issue is a moot one, as the state dessert bill sponsored by Rep. Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) and Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) is now the law of the land.As a result,“strawberry shortcake with natural Florida dairy topping” joins the list of 43 official state designations, including for animal (Florida panther), butterfly (Zebra Longwing), honey (Tupelo), soil (Myakka fine sand), tree (sabal palmetto palm), fruit (orange) and wildflower (tickseed). As originally written, the state dessert companion bills (SB 1006 and HB 567) described strawberry shortcake as “a dessert consisting of a base of shortcake, which resembles a biscuit, with a touch of cake, a layer of sweet, sliced strawberries, and a healthy dollop of whipped cream.” In a nod to state dairy farmers, Rep. Ralph E. Massullo, M.D. (R-Citrus County) successfully moved for an amendment that included “natural Florida dairy topping” as part of the dessert designation. In casting the spotlight on the fruit that wears its approximately 200

seeds on the outside, the state dessert bill likewise touted the stature of the Florida Strawberry Festival itself, noting that the annual event “welcomes visitors from around the world to celebrate this slice of Americana and the area’s bountiful harvest.” It notes that “approximately 200,000 strawberry shortcakes, the festival’s signature dessert, are served each year at the Florida Strawberry Festival,” which debuted in 1930,

thanks to the efforts of the Plant City Lions Club.After a six-year hiatus during and after World War II, the fes-

tival was revived by American Legion Post #26 and other area organizations. The legislation notes also that in 2000, Guinness World Records recognized Plant City as “home of the biggest shortcake in the world.” According to supporting documentation for the approved legislation, Florida now is one of seven states that has an official state dessert.The others are Delaware (peach pie), Maine (blueberry), Maryland (Smith Island cake), Massachusetts (Boston cream pie), Missouri (ice cream cone) and South Dakota (kuchen).Texas in 2013 designated a best pie (pecan); Alabama in 2016, a best cake (lane). Also among Florida’s official state designations are those for beverage (“the juice obtained from mature oranges of the species Citrus sinensis and hybrids thereof”), freshwater fish (Florida largemouth bass), gem (moonstone), horse (Florida cracker horse, or Marshtackie), heritage cattle breed (Florida cracker cattle), marine mammal (manatee), reptile (American alligator), saltwater fish (Atlantic sailfish), saltwater mammal (“porpoise, also commonly known as the dolphin”), saltwater reptile (loggerhead turtle), shell (horse conch), stone (agatized coral) and tortoise (gopher).

EPC Clean Air Fair

The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County is set to host its signature event, the Clean Air Fair, on Thursday, May 5, at the William F. Poe Plaza in downtown Tampa. Launched in 2002, the fair coincides with National Clean Air Month, celebrated nationwide in May and sponsored by the American Lung Association since 1972. Returning after a break caused by pandemic protocols, the Clean Air Fair brings together different industries, businesses and environmental groups to showcase efforts to improve the environment overall, and the air we breathe more specifically. This year’s theme:“Celebrate Clean Air.” “It’s something we all use all the time and it’s something that we can’t take for granted,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp said, in a video filmed at the 2019 Clean Air Fair in Tampa.“For many decades we’ve been on a trajectory of not having clean air and now we’re coming back and doing better and better and better.We still have a challenge ahead of us, but this [fair] is a great way to communicate with everyone the opportunities we have and the challenges we face and the work we’ve done.” Established by the Florida State Legislature in 1967, the county’s Environmental Protection Commission is driven by its mission “to protect our natural resources, environment and quality of life in Hillsborough County.” The seven members of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners serve also as the commission for the EPC. The EPC’s Clean Air Fair features food and exhibits, that, along with educational handouts and informational displays and discussions, cover everything from electric vehicles to solar panels to the essential role trees play in creating clean air by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reducing the greenhouse gas effect. The Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD) will return again with its own display, featuring information about its Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge and the many ways to protect and preserve our natural resources. “We love our partnership with the county’s Environmental Protection Commission because it helps both our groups expand our reach and share our message,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, HSWCD’s executive director.“Clean air is essential, not only to our health as humans, but also to the overall environmental health of our planet, which includes the food we eat.”

Indeed, the reasons are plentiful for celebrating and promoting clean air, the aim of the Clean Air Act of 1970, which resulted in programs that have lowered levels of six common pollutants — particles, ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide — as well as numerous toxic pollutants. The first legislation involving air pollution — the Air Pollution Control Act — was enacted in 1955, seven years after 20 people were killed and thousands of others were sickened after a cloud of pollution from a local factory formed over the mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania. The Clean Air Act, signed into law in 1970 and strengthened in 1977 and 1990, gave the federal government the authority to, among other things, set healthbased standards for ambient air quality; set national emission standards for large or ubiquitous sources of air pollution, including motor vehicles, power plants and other industrial sources; and mandate emission controls for sources of 187 hazardous air pollutants. “Historians of the environmental movement are likely to peg Earth Day 1970 as a key turning point in the American public’s consciousness about environmental problems,” Paul G. Rogers wrote, for the January/February 1990 edition of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Journal.“I believe that Congress’ enactments of the 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act a few months later was an equally significant landmark. For the 1970 amendments moved environmental protection concerns to a prominent position on Capitol Hill, where they by and large have remained ever since.” That legacy continues today. Both the EPA and the Clean Air Act amendments celebrated their respective 50-year milestones in 2020. “Today, as in the past, the Clean Air Act continues to cut pollution and protect the health of American families and workers,” the EPA notes on its website.“Fewer premature deaths and illnesses means Americans experience longer lives, better quality of life, lower medical expenses, fewer school absences and better worker productivity.” Moreover, the Clean Air Act “has created market opportunities that have helped to inspire innovation in cleaner technologies,” the EPA notice continues, “technologies in which the United States has become a global market leader.” For more on the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, and its annual Environmental Photo Contest, visit www.epchc.org.

Community Air Quality Monitoring Are you interested in your community’s air quality or concerned with the potential impacts of roadway pollution on your health? Plan Hillsborough’s Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health, and Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) are working with the community to increase community access to air quality data in areas near roadways, particularly in neighborhoods disproportionately burdened by traffic pollution, such as low-income communities and communities of color. Currently in its pilot study phase, ultimately envisioned is a network of air monitors that provide local air quality information for use by communities, organizations, and local government to inform future transportation planning and improve air quality and equity. Learn more about air quality, monitors, and how you can get involved: https://tinyurl.com/TPOAirQuality or scan the QR code.

For information on upcoming TREE, Inc. projects, please contact Will Moriarty at (813) 514-3941 or visit www.treeinctampabay@gmail.com.

Tampa Bay Times

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Water Management Districts… Their Focus is Protecting Florida’s Water Charged with protecting the state’s water resources, five water management districts serve Floridians.The Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as “Swiftmud,” was established in 1961. SWFWMD, along with South Florida Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, Suwanee River Water Management District, and Northwest Florida Water Management District carry out responsibilities including managing water supplies, protecting water quality and natural water systems of lakes, wetlands and even uplands throughout the state. Jurisdiction over all or part of Charlotte, Citrus, Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter counties is under the Southwest Florida Water


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Management District. SWFWMD consists of approximately 10,000 square miles, serving a population of 5 million.The District is made up of eight basins, based primarily on watersheds or geographic boundaries.

SWFWMD headquarters are located in Brooksville and the District operates with a budget of almost $200 million annually. Funding is derived from a 1 mil tax levy (one dollar for each $1,000 of accessed land value)

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as well as other sources such as the Florida Forever Program. The District and its partners manage acquired conservation lands that are visited by over 2.5 million people annually. Hillsborough County properties include Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve, Chito Branch Reserve, Edward Medard Park and Reserve, Little Manatee River Lower Tract, Little Manatee River Upper Tract, Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve, Schultz Preserve and the Tampa Bypass Canal. Further information on the programs, projects and activities of the Southwest Florida Water Management District is available at WaterMatters.org

National Association of Conservation Districts Represents Districts Throughout US Founded on July 25, 1946 in Chicago, IL, the National Association of Conservation Districts serves as the unified voice of conservation throughout the United States, its territories and tribal nations. The organization was created by 18 men representing 17 states, and its first executive officer was Ellen Cobb, an SCS employee from South Carolina who served from 1946 to 1948. Today, this non-profit represents nearly 3,000 districts and over 17,000 volunteers as it serves to carry out its mission. The NACD mission includes legislative advocacy at the federal level, with headquarters in the nation’s capitol. Legislative interaction covers a wide array of issues, including climate change, wildlife management, forest and wildfire, watershed management, and appropriations, among others. A spring fly-in is held annually to visit representatives and senators to express the importance of action on conservation issues. Funding support comes from its membership, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. Programs supported by NACD include Urban and Community Grants, Technical Assistance Grants, Water, as well as Tribal Outreach and Partnerships. In fact, it was one of NACD’s initial Urban and Community Grants that led to the creation and development of the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge program in 2017. This $50,000 grant helped establish what is now an ongoing, self-sufficient program with dozens of projects conducted annually by hundreds of volunteers. Local conservation districts, with the support of NACD, promote good soil health practices such as crop rotation; cover crops; and no-or-minimum-tillage systems that keep soil on the ground, increase organic content, reduce the need for frequent application of fertilizers, and mitigate the effects of drought, excessive heat and extreme weather on crops. Hillsborough agricultural operators

and landowners interested in these programs and the implementation of Best Management Practices, can receive more information through Hillsborough SWCD. In addition, NACD supports and sponsors the Soil Champions Network, a network of farmers, ranchers and foresters who champion the benefits of soil health within their communities. Another issue of critical importance is the availability of clean and abundant water. Both NACD and local conservation districts work together to make sure that landowners and producers have the information and tools they need to protect water from sediment runoff, nutrients and other contaminants. In addition, they work with partners and stakeholders to improve stormwater management, prevent and mitigate the effects of drought and advance the restoration of dams and reservoirs. Other NACD activities include its annual Soil Stewardship Week, which runs from April 24 – May 1, 2022, with the theme: “Healthy Soil, Healthy Life.” In addition, upcoming NACD meetings include the Summer Conservation Forum and Tours, with the Southeast Region Meeting, July 16 – 19 in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the 77th Annual Meeting, slated for Feb. 11-15, 2023 in New Orleans. Currently serving as NACD President is Michael Crowder of Washington who manages farm operations in Illinois, Indiana and Washington; and President-Elect and 1st Vice President Kim LaFleur, a cranberry farmer from Massachusetts. Rounding out the officer team is 2nd Vice President Ian Cunningham from Minnesota, Secretary-Treasurer Gary Blair from Mississippi and Immediate Past President Tim Palmer of Iowa. Heading the NACD staff is CEO Jeremy Peter, with Southeast Region responsibilities being handled by Candice Abinanti. For further information, call: (202) 547-6223; Fax: (202) 547-6450; NACD, 500 Capitol Court, NE, Washington, DC 200024937; www.nacdnet.org.

Local Working Group Seeks Producer Opinions Mark your calendars now for the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District’s Nov. 29, 2022 Local Working Group meeting, to be held in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service at the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, 13138 Lewis Gallagher Road, Dover, 33527.This annual meeting brings together farmers, ranchers, agricultural educators, affiliated partners and the public to evaluate programs and make recommendations for future priorities for NRCS funding. Among the funding pools considered are brush and herbaceous weed

control, cropland, forestry, invasive plants, seasonal high tunnels, water conservation and weed control, among others. Participants will be able to discuss their experiences, offer suggestions and fill out evaluation forms on the various programs. Additionally, those attending will be asked to select Resource Concern categories and priorities for Florida. All residents are welcome to attend, with registration for this no-cost event requested by Nov. 25, 2022. For further details, call: (813) 477-8332 or email: bjt6890@yahoo.com.

AFCD Supports Florida Conservation Districts Florida’s 56 conservation districts are affiliated under membership in the Association of Florida Conservation Districts (AFCD). The Association, headquartered in Chiefland, FL, is divided into six geographic areas, with Hillsborough County located in Area 4. Making up the balance of Area 4 districts are Brevard, Hernando, Lake, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and Sumter counties. Serving as Vice-President for the area is Dr. Sonja Brookins,Treasurer of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District. The Association’s multi-faceted goals include providing a direct link between soil and water conservation districts and the National Association of Conservation Districts, as well as the State of Florida and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.AFCD also works to promote conservation education for youth through annual poster and speech contests, land judging, and environmental education competitions known as “Envirothons.”

According to State AFCD President Jeff Moore of Gadsden SWCD,“What makes Conservation District programs so unique is that they are citizen-led initiatives by individuals from every walk of life. Our supervisors are volunteers who represent a cross section of our state and that’s how they’ve operated since the Florida Legislature’s enactment of FS Chapter 582 in 1937.” Rounding out the Board are 1st Vice President Richard Darby, Clay SWCD; 2nd Vice President Joe Garrison, Polk SWCD; Secretary/Treasurer Wilbur Dean, Levy SWCD; Past President Burlin Findley, Blackwater SWCD and Parliamentarian Archie Matthews, Alachua SWCD. AFCD Staff consists of Executive Director, Charlene Meeks; Restoration Coordinator Natalie Jernigan;Agreement and Outreach Coordinator Kaylee Pate and Conservation Reserve Program Coordinator Quinn Carter. For further information, call: (352) 507-7065; 1121 NW 19th Ave., Chiefland, FL 32626 or mail: Post Office Box 1763, Chiefland, FL 32644; www.afcd.us. Tampa Bay Times

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