Cooperator of the Year Awards
Mike McCaffrey of Hidden Pond Nature Center Recognized with 2015 Cooperator of the Year Award
Mike McCaffrey, Hidden Pond Nature Center Manager, was honored as the 2015 Diane Hoffman Cooperator of the Year. He has been a stalwart partner and ambassador for NVSWCD’s programs, resources and expertise.
Since the Virginia Envirothon program began in 1995, the Hidden Pond Nature Center has been a fearsome opponent in local, state, and international competitions. The basketball great Michael Jordan stated, “Champions do not become champions when they win an event, but in the hours, weeks, and months, and years they spend preparing for it.” The confidence the team has when they enter a room and present and answer questions is unlike many of their peers. The team exudes this presence because they are disciplined in their preparation and especially because they have fun. It is plain to see that that their coach encourages this serious and yet playful tone. Their hard work has paid off with state championships and participation in two of the last three international competitions.
Diane Hoffman, for whom the Cooperator of the Year Award is named, is a current Associate Director and retired as the NVSWCD's District Administrator in 2012. The Cooperator of the Year Award is named in her honor, for the legacy of cooperative spirit she instilled throughout all NVSWCD programs. Learn more about Diane Hoffman's tenure.
Blanchard Family Honored With Clean Water Farm Award
The 2015 Clean Water Farm Award was presented to Eydie and Paul Blanchard, who own and operate Three Star Farm, LLC. Three Star Farm is a five-acre mini-farm in Clifton, VA. This small but active operation is a common example of agriculture in suburban communities. USDA Farm Service Agency issued a “farm number” to Three Star Farm in February 2014.
NVSWCD began working with the Blanchard family during the spring of 2013, when they had only two horses. NVSWCD’s Senior Conservation Specialist developed a Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plan for the property that identifies opportunities for reducing existing and potential pollution sources as the Blanchard family sought to expand their operations. Today, the farm has four horses, 40 chickens (producing 60-75 eggs per week, which he sells through local markets), and 11 African Pygmy “show” goats (consisting of nine does, one wether, and one buck).
The Blanchard family is determined to run the farm using environmentally sound practices. Although there is no Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area (RPA) within their property limits, there is one on an adjacent parcel. Therefore, good nutrient management, erosion control and integrated pest management practices are of great concern during their everyday farming activities.
In spring 2015, the Blanchard family cooperated with NVSWCD and participated in the Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Program, through which they constructed a four-cell composting facility, sized to manage up to 30 cubic yards of farm waste. The facility was designed using USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service specifications. All composted material will be spread on the pasture fields, as recommended in their nutrient management plan. Spreading composted waste on the pasture recycles nutrients, enhances the water holding capacity of the soil, and increases soil microbial activity – all of which result in improved pasture yield and reduction of non-point source pollution within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Peter Mecca Honored with Conservation Teacher of the Year Award
Before a crowd of 400 conservation professionals, Peter Mecca, biology and ecology teacher at George Mason High School in Falls Church, received the 2015 Conservation Education Teacher of the Year Award from the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The award honors Mecca’s innovative program for involving students in conservation on the school grounds and beyond. A groundbreaking daikon radish study was one of the projects highlighted. Mecca has worked directly with NVSWCD for the past two years to determine the effectiveness of using the radishes to relieve urban soil compaction.
The density of urban soils is a prime cause of runoff pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Daikon radishes – due to their deep, large underground taproots – have been used for many years by farmers to break up compacted soil layers. Through this partnership, students tested whether they can provide the same benefits in an urban setting.
Students measured the infiltration rates and density of compacted soils on the campus of George Mason High School, before and after amending them with compost and planting daikon radishes.
The results were excellent. The daikons grew well and follow-up testing revealed that the soil’s ability to infiltrate stormwater increased significantly while its density decreased by nearly half. Mecca and NVSWCD hope that the experiment can prompt daikon soil amendments to be used more commonly in urban landscapes.
Other programs Mecca has spearheaded with students at Mason have included Trout in the Classroom, E. coli and macroinvertebrate (aquatic critter) moni- toring in streams, a Stormwater Sentries Facebook game, invasive species removal on the Appalachian Trail and more.
George Mason High School principal Ty Bird, who joined Peter Mecca in Richmond to receive the award, had the following to say:
Dr. Mecca is a committed educator who demonstrates a genuine devotion to children and the environment. His continued efforts to enlighten our students, his colleagues and the greater Falls Church and global communities have greatly enhanced our collective capacity to serve as effective stewards of our planet and its resources.
Dr. Mecca brings relevance to the traditional study of science. His passion is infectious and his energy compels others to think deeply and act purposefully. His continued creative and engaging efforts to provide our students with relevant, real world educational experiences ensure that they are capable of leading the global charge of protecting our environment.
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The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District annually recognizes individuals or groups who work in partnership with the district to protect and conserve natural resources in Fairfax County. Other recent honorees include:
Matt Meyers, Watershed Projects Implementation Branch Chief
for Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Division, was the 2014 Cooperator
of the Year, honoring his partnership on projects including the Wakefield
Run Stream Restoration Project, Tysons Corner stream restoration, Pohick
Watershed Lake Dredging and Rehabilitation, Patton Terrace, the Bay-wide
Stormwater Retreat and numerous outreach and education efforts.
The Friends of Accotink Creek were named the 2013 Cooperator
of the Year in recognition of their partnership on the Wakefield Run
project, promoting and taking on the stream naming, coordinating stream
cleanups, native plant rescues and planting, invasive plant removal
volunteer days, and using many tools to engage the Accotink Creek
watershed community in water quality protection.
Charles Smith was named the 2012 Cooperator of the Year for
his collaboration with NVSWCD staff on many projects over the years,
including rain garden projects at the Packard Center, as well as Audrey
Moore, Mt. Vernon and Cub Run Recreation Centers. He also facilitated a
stream restoration at Wakefield Recreation Center.
Craft, General Superintendent for the Department of Public Works and
Environmental Services, was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation
for his outstanding partnership over many years. Craft has partnered with
the NVSWCD staff to organize the Annual Land Conservation Awards
program. Under his leadership, the entire program runs smoothly, from
the nomination of projects and the semi-annual site judging to the
culminating awards ceremony.
The Fairfax Master Naturalists is a cadre of volunteers
that has been growing since 2007. Their 138 active naturalists (as of
2011) are trained in the field and classroom and have contributed
countless volunteer hours to environmental projects. Fairfax Master
Naturalists have partnered, volunteered and taken a leadership role with
a number of prominent environmental programs with the Soil and Water
Conservation District, including as Watershed-Friendly Garden Tour hosts,
organizational judges for the Fairfax County Science and Technology Fair,
long-term biological stream monitors, and volunteer storm drain labeling
- Matt Meyers, 2014 Cooperator of the Year
- Friends of Accotink Creek, 2013 Cooperator of the Year
- Charles Smith, 2012 Cooperator of the Year; Chuck Craft, Special Appreciation Award
- Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, 2011 Cooperator of the Year
- B.J. Sistani, Code Analysis, DPWES, 2010 Cooperator of the Year
- Angler Environmental, 2009 Cooperator of the Year
- Jim McGlone, 2008 Cooperator of the Year
- Fairfax County Public Schools - Maintenance Division, 2007 Cooperator of the Year
- Resource Management Division, FCPA, 2006 Cooperator of the Year
- Maintenance and Stormwater Management, 2005 Cooperator of the Year
- Jeanette Stewart, 2004 Cooperator of the Year
- Diana Handy, 2003 Cooperator of the Year
- Laura Grape, 2002 Cooperator of the Year
- Steve Aitcheson, 2001 Cooperator of the Year
- Norma Hoffman, 2000 Cooperator of the Year
- DPWES Utilities Planning and Design, 1999 Cooperator of the Year
- Judy Okay, 1998 Cooperator of the Year
- Sherry Penney, 1997 Cooperator of the Year
- Friends of Sugarland Run, 1996 Cooperator of the Year
- Walter Hamilton, 1995 Cooperator of the Year
- Shep Oliver, 1994 Cooperator of the Year
- Supervisor Gerry Hyland, 1993 Cooperator of the Year
- Cindy Zimar; James Frazier, 1992 Cooperator of the Year
- Mrs. Hiu Newcomb, 1991 Cooperator of the Year
- Bernie Parsons, 1990 Cooperator of the Year
- Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District, 1989 Cooperator of the Year
- Union Camp Corporation, 1988 Cooperator of the Year
- Bill Sheads, 1987 Cooperator of the Year
- Mike Wagner, 1986 Cooperator of the Year
- Col Spalding, 1985 Cooperator of the Year
- John Koenig, 1984 Cooperator of the Year
- Joe Flakne, 1983 Cooperator of the Year
- Arlington-Fairfax Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, 1982 Cooperator of the Year
- Col. Bill Smith, 1981 Cooperator of the Year
- Shouse Homeowners Association, 1980 Cooperator of the Year