The 2022 Bessie Bocock Carter Conservation Award recipient, The Spotswood Garden Club, was announced at the Awards Banquet during the 2022 Annual Meeting in Richmond. Club President, Donna Harper (center with Debbie Lewis (l) and Missy Buckingham), accepted the award for $9,000, on behalf of her club for their project “Growing Citizens with Seeds of Conservation”. The club was inspired to pursue this project after becoming aware of Lacey Spring Elementary School’s conservation program several years ago.

In 2020 the club nominated first grade teacher Phil Satolli for the GCV Conservation Educator Award. Phil had been committed to teaching students how their food is grown and what is needed for an environmentally successful harvest. Lacey Spring Elementary, in rural Harrisonburg, convinced Spotswood Garden Club that their efforts to educate students, teachers and the community on conservation issues was important. The club was inspired and enthusiastically signed on.

The club has supported school efforts since 2019 and plans to continue to work on projects to include education of students to plant, cultivate, harvest, cook and eat the food they grow; grow the school garden club recycling and composting program and instill a conservation ethic in the student body.

The Bessie Bocock Carter Conservation Award will enhance the outdoor classroom, giving students access to multiple areas, to include:

  • A pollinator garden
  • Outdoor classroom trail, with signage
  • Soil to restore gardens and the school greenhouse
  • A pergola and outdoor stage for school programs centered on conservation and environmental issues

Spotswood Garden Club has actively pursued alliances with community groups and organizations. Their partner in the project is Simply Sustainable Landscapes at Glenhaven Greenhouse. Among many local organizations who have lent support and manpower, are the following:

Mt. Tabor Church, Mt. Valley 10th Legion Ruritan Club, Rockingham Public Schools, Rockingham Educational Foundation and Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District. Multiple grants have been awarded to the club and school and over $3000 of the club’s budget has been allocated to the work at Lacey Spring Elementary.

In their nomination, the club called the outdoor classroom for learning and conservation “The Beginnings of a Dream”. They wrote “We started small with a lesson about compost. Kids are naturally curious and a former principal and master gardener lent a hand with a “compost in a jar experiment”. Materials were donated for an easy- to- build compost bin. Parents volunteered. The whole school was involved, with first graders piloting the compost cafeteria waste project. They taught the rest of the school how to compost. One thing led to another with 16 raised beds, a greenhouse, an after-school garden club, and community partnerships. Outdoor learning takes place every day and a summer school involving all students was created. All leading to success! From garden to table, back to the garden. Students learned that the garden is the teacher.”

For their plans to instill a conservation ethic in students, their families and the community, and a commitment to the future- starting with our youth becoming good stewards of our resources, the 2022 Bessie Bocock Carter Conservation Award is presented to Spotswood Garden Club.

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