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SWCD Administrative Handbook

The intended use and purpose of this Handbook is to provide guidance to Ohio soil and water conservation district supervisors as to their fiduciary responsibilities and assist SWCD employees in carrying out day-to-day operations. The SWCD Administrative Handbook is organized into 8 chapters.  Click on each chapter tab for find introductory information about the chapter and links to view chapter content.

Chapter 1 - Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Partnership and History

This history has been included in an effort to educate the reader/user on the creation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Ohio, as well as the history of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Conservation (DSWC).   
The information contained herein up to the 1980s is selected text which has been excerpted from an existing document entitled Division of Soil and Water Conservation Districts written by Floyd E. Heft.  For those desiring a more inclusive account of this time period in its entirety, it is suggested that the original document be reviewed.
We would like to express our sincere thanks and deepest appreciation to former DSWC Chief Larry Vance, DSWR Chief David Hanselmann, and former DSWC Deputy Chief, Brad Ross for their contribution of historical content and review of the sections 1980 through 2012.

Chapter 1 - History of the Ohio Conservation Partnership

Conservation Partnership Area Map

Organization of SWCDs by Date

Ohio Conservation Partnership List of Acronyms and Abbreviations


Chapter 2 - Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Laws, Rules, and Agreements

This chapter provides links to the various enabling statues and subsequent rules establishing the soil and water conservation district (SWCD) government structure in Ohio as well as defining certain powers and authorities with regard to erosion and pollution abatement. Also included are ancillary state and federal laws and rules by which SWCD boards and supervisors must adhere to as employers, as a public entity and as public officials. Additionally, agreements are included which set working relationship between and among SWCDs and federal and state conservation agencies.

Chapter 2 - Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Laws, Rules, and Agreements
Conflict Designation Form
1996 Ohio Mutual Agreement
2016 Ohio Cooperative Working Agreement
Ohio Sunshine Law 101

Chapter 3 - Soil and Water Information Reporting and Guidance

To facilitate uniform statewide reporting, the OSWCC with the assistance of the division, provides a cloud-based management and reporting software platform called Beehive for all SWCDs and the division to use. 

Beehive is an asset and infrastructure management software program used by state and local governments, natural resource districts, utilities, and the construction industry.  The Beehive software utilizes a common framework with several different specific modules. The modules provide users the ability to track, manage, document and report on all the activities and events that affect the work they do. The customized version of Beehive developed for Ohio SWCDs provides a modern user experience with tracking, mapping and reporting interfaces for all SWCD programs and activities and supports OSWCC, DSWC and OFSWCD information gathering.

Chapter 3 - Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission Beehive Use Guidelines

Beehive Login


Chapter 4 - SWCD Board Governance and Operations

This chapter is a comprehensive guide to the roles and responsibilities for elected soil and water conservation district board members as the governing body of an independent political subdivision of the state of Ohio. The information will assist in conducting business within the scope of the laws and rules that govern soil and water conservation in Ohio with professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness. Several fact sheets and other helpful ancillary documents are referenced below.

Chapter 4 - SWCD Board Governance and Operations
Sample Policy: Robert's Rules of Order
Sample Policy: SWCD Model Public Meeting Notice Policy
Sample Policy: Public Comment At SWCD Board Meetings
Chair's Board Meeting Evaluation
Simplified Parliamentary Procedures Table
Annual Plan of Work Template
SWCD Planning Meeting & Local Work Group Model
Guidelines for Traditional Non-Digital District Correspondence
Guidelines for Digital District Communications
Ohio’s Public Records Act – Common Questions
SWCD Guidelines for Recording Official Minutes
Sample SWCD File Index 
Ohio's Open Meeting Act - Common Questions
SWCD Annual Meeting Check List

Chapter 5 - Soil and Water Conservation District Finances

Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) are organized under state law, but financial support for operations is not mandated. However, when local funds are garnered by SWCDs (and in some cases when they are not) the law does provide a process by which those funds may be matched by the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission (OSWCC).

Regardless of source, any funds managed by SWCD are public funds, and therefore, must be maintained at the highest level of fiscal integrity. SWCD boards should ensure that proper fiscal internal controls and check and balances are in place. To do this SWCD board members are expected to provide regular oversight of all SWCD funds. This oversight, may include but is not limited to such activities as: a detailed review of monthly bills to be paid, monthly deposit account reconciliation oversight and periodic transaction testing by the board fiscal agent and/or treasurer.

Just as any Ohio public office, SWCDs are audited by the Ohio Auditor of State. For assistance and guidance with regard to SWCD fiscal matters, SWCD staff and board members should contact their designated Ohio Auditor of State representative or designated Program Specialist with the Division of Soil and Water Conservation.

Chapter 5 - Soil and Water Conservation District Finances  
Sample Letter - Certification Of Fiscal Agent  
SWCD Personnel Cost Calculator (xls) 
SWCD District Fund Voucher 

Chapter 6 - SWCD Employment and Management of Personnel

The ability of SWCD boards to hire employees is authorized under Chapter 940.08 of the Ohio Revised Code. This employer role is as important a responsibility as setting the direction and priorities of the SWCD. SWCD employees carry out the SWCD mission to achieve the strategic vision of the board. Hiring effective personnel and managing them to get the best possible performance are essential. In this chapter, you will find guidance on hiring, managing and evaluating personnel. Information in this chapter should not be construed or depended upon as legal advice but only guidance as to matters board members should consider. For legal opinions contact the SWCD legal adviser.

Chapter 6 - Employment and Management of Personnel
New Hire Checklist  
Sample - Job Description - District Technician  
Sample - Standards of Performance Document - District Technician  Sample - SWCD District Administrator Performance Analysis


Chapter 7 - SWCD Guidelines for Conservation Works of Improvement

Ohio soil and water conservation district law, Chapter 940 of the ohio revised code enables local soil and water conservation districts (SWCD), in addition to their otherresponsibilities, to construct improvements for natural resource conservation and development. Called, Conservation Works of Improvement (CWI), these are projects to conserve soil resources, control and prevent soil erosion, flood prevention, and the conservation, development, utilization and disposal of water within a district. The purpose of this legislation was to enable local people and local units of government to initiate, construct, and maintain natural resource works of improvement through the legal authority of Soil and Water Conservation Districts working cooperatively with the boards of county commissioners. Any landowner located in a soil and water conservation district may petition for construction of CWI. The authorities in Chapter 940 may be utilized to accomplish a project whether or not state funds are used in the project. The guidelines in this chapter describe step-by-step procedures for planning and constructing improvements for natural resource conservation and development.

Chapter 7 - Guidelines for Conservation Works of Improvement
Conservation Works of Improvement - FAQs
JB-1 Request to Form a Joint Board
JB-2 Joint Board of Supervisors Organization Report
JB-3 Joint Board Supervisors Annual Report
JB-4 Joint Board Dissolution Request
CWI-1 Request for Assistance
CWI-4 Application For Advance Of Monies  
CWI-5 Application For State Cost Share
Letter Of Legal Notices & News Releases For CWI Projects - Sample


Chapter 8 - Ohio Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program

This chapter provides information and guidance for SWCDs regarding the responsiblities of implementing Ohio's Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program (APAP). The law and rules are administered by Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation (DSWC) and implemented locally with the assistance of all 88 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) through a cooperative working agreement. Section 901:13-1 of the Ohio Administrative Code establishes state standards for a level of management and conservation practices in farming and animal feeding operations on farms in order to abate excessive soil erosion or the pollution of waters of thestate by soil sediment and animal manure. These rules also define Ohio’s pollution abatement grant program for landowners or operators to voluntarily install conservation practices. 

Chapter 8 - Ohio Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program
APAP Rule Book

SWCD Forms and Guidance Documents

Agricultural Pollution Abatement

Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program Online Training Info and Link
Agricultural Pollution Abatement Complaint Flow Chart
Agricultural Pollution Abatement Standard Operating Procedures
Agricultural Pollution Complaint Intake Form for Beehive
Agricultural Pollution Investigation Form for Beehive
APAP Example Complaint Report for SWCDs
APAP Fillable Form for SWCD Investigation Reports
Webinar: Step-by-step Guide to Entering Pollution Complaints in Beehive
APAP Warning Letter Example for SWCDs
APAP Warning Letter Template for SWCDs
APAP Notice of Deficiency Example for SWCDs
APAP Notice of Deficiency Template for SWCDs

Annual Plan of Work

SWCD Annual Plan of Work Template
​SWCD Planning Meeting/Local Work Group Meeting Model

Board of Supervisor Elections and Appointment

Nominating Committee Checklist
Request to OSWCC for SWCD Supervisor Appointment
SWCD Supervisor Oath of Office
Ohio Ethics Law Receipt Acknowledgement - Template
Conflict of Interest Information - Form
New SWCD Board Member District Specific Fact Sheet - Template

SWCD Supervisor Election Forms and Guidance:
SWCD Election Designee Guidance
EL-1 Statement of Candidacy
EL-2 Candidate Petition Form
EL-3 Candidate Submission
EL-4 Election Notice
EL-5 Election Registry
EL-6 Election Result Form
EL-7 Voter Verification Form
SWCD Supervisor Election Timeline Calculator
2023 Ballot
Example Ballot Return Envelope


Agreed-Upon Procedures Eligibility Checklist
Certification of SWCD Fiscal Agent
Form 11 - SWCD Request for State Matching Funds
SWCD State Match Contingency Calculator

Joint Board

JB-1 Request to Form a Joint Board
JB-2 Joint Board of Supervisors Organization Report
JB-3 Joint Board Supervisors Annual Report
JB-4 Joint Board Dissolution Request

Model SWCD Policies

SWCD Model Ethics Policy - Sample
Public Comment at SWCD Board Meeting Policy - Sample
Board Meeting Policy Based on Robert's Rules of Order ​ - Sample

SWCD Reminders and Resources

2022 Reminders and Resources Guide
2022 Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards

SWCD Reorganization and Partnership Roster

2020 Ohio Conservation Partnership Roster
SWCD Board Reorganization Notice

Soil and Water Phosphorus Program

Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Fact Sheet (Fillable)

Working Lands Buffer Program

Compare Working Lands Buffers to CREP Buffers
Working Lands Buffer Program Frequently Asked Questions
Working Lands Buffer Seeding & Establishment Criteria (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Buffer Signup Process (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Buffer Agreement and Verification (Fillable Form) (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Buffer Program Specification and Guidance (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Buffer Program Fact Sheet (Fillable) (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Buffer Postcard Example (updated 6/2019)

Working Lands Small Grain Program

Working Lands Small Grain Program Fact Sheet (Fillable) (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Small Grain Program Guidelines (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Small Grain Program Contract and Verification Form (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Small Grain Program Step by Step Signup Process (updated 6/2019)
​Working Lands Small Grain Program Criteria for Seeding and Establishment
Working Lands Small Grain Program Post Card Template (updated 6/2019)
Working Lands Small Grain Program Frequently Asked Questions (updated 6/2019)


H2Ohio Top Ten Best Management Practices and SWCD Contact Map
H2Ohio Best Management Fact Sheets
H2Ohio Best Management Practices Criteria and Incentives
H2Ohio Best Management Practices Guidelines
H2Ohio Producer Contact Sheet for SWCDs
H2Ohio Best Management Practices Worksheet for SWCDs
H2Ohio Producer Enrollment Checklist 
H2Ohio Program Cost-share Enrollment and Agreement Form



What happens if a soil and water conservation district board member resigns
or is removed from office?

Upon the resignation or removal, Ohio law provides for a process by which the Ohio Soil and WaterConservation Commission can appoint a new soil and water conservation district board member to fill out the remainder of the unexpired term or conduct an election to fill the seat.

Additional Resources & References:
OSWCC Request for SWCD Board Member Appointment
ORC Section 940.04
SWCD Administration Handbook Chapter 4


What are the consequences if SWCD staff or supervisors disclose confidential information?

It is a violaton of the Ohio Ethics Law for SWCD board members and staff to divulge confidential information. The Ethics Law prohibits present and former public officials or employees from disclosing or using any information appropriately designated by law as confidential. This prohibition remains in effect as long as the information remains confidential.

Additional Resources & References:
O.R.C. 102.03(B)
Ohio Ethics Commission
SWCD Administrative Handbook Chapter 2


When a district needs legal advice what is the responsibility of the corresponding county prosecuting attorney?

The prosecuting attorney of a county in which there is a soil and water conservation district shall be the legal adviser of the district. The prosecuting attorney shall be the legal counsel of such district in all civil actions brought by or against it and shall conduct all such actions in his official capacity. the supervisors of a district may also employ such attorneys as may be necessary or desirable in the operations of the district.

Additional Resources & References:
ORC 940.13

SWCD Personnel Policy and Benefits

Can a soil and water conservation district board of supervisors limit the amount of unused vacation time
an employee may carry over to the following year?

Ohio law provides that vacation leave shall be taken by the employee during the year in which it accrued and prior to the next recurrence of the anniversary date of the employee's employment, provided that the appointing authority may, in special and meritorious cases, permit such employee to accumulate and carry over the employee's vacation leave to the following year. No vacation leave shall be carried over for more than three years.

Additional Resources & References:
O.R.C. 940.08
O.R.C. 325.19 (C)

If the soil and water conservation district re-hires an employee that has retired under PERS or any other state retirement fund, does the employee keep the prior years of service with them upon reemployment for the purpose of computing earned leave?

No. Once an individual retires their prior years of public service are void. They are treated as a new
employee without any prior public service.

Additional Resources & References:
O.R.C. 9.44(C)


Can a soil and water conservation district board of supervisors set a dress code?

Yes, Ohio law allows for soil and water conservation district boards of supervisors to set policies for their office. Thought should be given to what is appropriate for the office vs. field work; professional image; and saftey and hygiene.

Additional Resources & References:
O.R.C. 940.06 (F)


Public Meetings and Public Records

Is undue burden or expense a valid reason for a public office not to comply with a public records request?

No. A request cannot be denied tor delayed on grounds that fulfilling it interferes with the operation of the office. However, where a request unreasonably interferes with the discharge of the public office's duties, the office may not be obliged to comply.The Ohio Supreme Court has held that no pleading of too much expense, or too much time involved, or too much interference with normal duties can be used by the public office to evade the public’s right to inspect or obtain a copy of public records within a reasonable time. Reasonable delays may occur if the public records need review or redaction's; location and retrieval; preparation and or delivery.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual
Model Public Records

What is the proper procedure for requesting public records?

Any person can make a request for public records by asking a public office or person responsible for public records for specific, existing records. The requester may make a request in any manner the requester chooses: by phone, in person, or in an email or letter. A public office cannot require the requester to identify him or herself or indicate why he or she is requesting the records, unless a specific law permits or requires it. Often, however, a discussion about the requester’s purposes or interest in seeking certain information can aid the public office in locating and producing the desired records more efficiently.
Upon receiving a request for specific, existing public records, a public office must provide prompt inspection at no cost during regular business hours, or provide copies at cost within a reasonable period of time. The public office may withhold or redact specific records that are covered by an exemption to the Public Records Act but is required to give the requester an explanation, including legal authority, for each denial. The Public Records Act provides for negotiation and clarification to help identify, locate, and deliver requested records if: 1) a requester makes an ambiguous or overly broad request; or 2) the public office believes that asking for the request in writing, or the requester’s identity, or the intended use of the requested information would enhance the ability of the public office to provide the records.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual
Ohio Attorney General
Model Public Records Policy

Can a public office charge a person to inspect records?

No. The public records act does not permit a public office to charge the public for inspection of public records.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual
Model Public Records Policy


When must a public office allow inspection of records?

At all reasonable times during established, regular business hours.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Attorney General
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual
Model Public Records Policy


What is a public record?

A public record is any item held by a public office that is: stored on a fixed medium (paper, computer, film etc.), created, received, or sent under the jurisdiction of the public office, and documents the organization , functions, policies, decisions, or procedures of the office.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Attorney General
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual

When must a public office allow inspection of records?

At all reasonable times during established, regular business hours.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Attorney General
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual
Model Public Records Policy

What constitutes a public meeting?

Before a public body is subject to the requirements of the Open Meeting Act, it must first be having a meeting. A "meeting" is a "pre-arranged gathering of a majority of the members of a public body to discuss or conduct public business" per the Ohio Revised Code. Each of these characteristics must be present; otherwise the gathering is not a "meeting" and is not subject to the Open Meeting Act requirements. Where each of these characteristics is present the gathering is a meeting, regardless of whether the public body itself initiated the meeting or it was initiated by another entity.

Additional Resources & References:
ORC 121.22 (B)(2)
Ohio Auditor of State
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual


Where are the guidelines located for holding an Executive Session during SWCD board meetings,
and what are the reasons why a board may enter into Executive Session?

The Executive Session information is found in the Ohio Sunshine Law contained in Ohio's Open Government Laws or the information can be downloaded from the Ohio Attorney General's website. There are nine allowable reasons why a district or other public body may enter into Executive Session; one of which is required to be stated during the public meeting and included in the minutes. In many cases, SWCD board executive sessions are for personnel reasons, which should state the specific personnel reason as outlined in the law and guidance. 

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual
O.R.C 121.22


How much information should be detailed within the SWCD Board meeting minutes?

A public body must keep full and accurate minutes, which must enable the public to understand and appreciate the rationale behind the public body's decisions. Minutes must be prepared promptly, must be filed and maintained by the public body. Minutes are merely the record of the actions. They are not actions in and of themselves.

Additional Resources & References:
Auditor of State
SWCD Administrative Handbook Chapter 4 - SWCD Guidelines for Recording Official Minutes


What happens when the SWCD Board Secretary refuses to sign minutes for
a meeting he/she did not attend?

As long as the minutes are found to be accurate by the board, the signature is only a procedural matter. Minutes, unsigned do not invalidate the business of the board. In this case the Chairman could ask another member who attended to sign on behalf of the Secretary, or he could appoint an acting Secretary to sign as detailed in Roberts Rules of Order.

Additional Resources & References:
SWCD Administrative Handbook - Chapter 4


Does an SWCD working committee or subcommittee, for example, an education
committee, have to comply with the Sunshine Law?

Yes, when that committee includes a majority or quorum of SWCD board members.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Auditor of State
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual


What are the requirements of a special meeting?

Any meeting other than a regular meeting is a special meeting. The public body's notice requirements for a special meeting must establish by rule, a reasonable method that allows for the public to determine the time, place and purpose of the meeting. Notice to all media outlets that have requested such notification is to take place at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Additional Resources & References:
Auditor of State
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual


What requirements must be followed if the SWCD board needs to hold an emergency meeting?

“Emergency meetings” are special meetings that are needed because a situation requires immediate action. The public body, in this case the SWCD, must immediately notify certain media outlets of the time, place, and purpose of the emergency meeting. As with special meetings, only topics related to the stated purpose of the meeting can be discussed. The board should have a public notice policy in place which details processes for notifying the news media that have requested notification immediately of the time, place, and purpose of the emergency meeting.

Additional Resources & References:
ORC 121.22(F)
Ohio Auditor of State
Ohio Sunshine Law Manual




How often is a district expected to review the Ohio Ethics Law?

While there is no law requiring a regular review of the Ohio Ethics Law; it is a good board governance practice to have staff and board members become familiar with their ethical responsibilities. One way to accomplish that is through training upon joining the SWCD and an annual review thereafter. The Ohio Ethics Commission provides a wide variety of training opportunities in a variety of formats.

Additional Resources & References:
Ohio Ethics Commission



SWCD Education and Outreach Programs

Thinking about expanding and improving your district’s education and public outreach efforts? Education and outreach are part of everyone’s job as each staff and board member interacts with the public, elected officials, teachers and students, partnering agencies, and the media. Use the practical information and links to resources  below to help present soil and water conservation messages effectively to a variety of audiences. 

Camps - Day and Residential

SWCDs in Northwest Ohio – SWCDs in Northwest Ohio sponsor a Kids’ Outdoor Science Camp each June at 4‐H Camp Palmer. This 4‐day, 3‐night residential camp targets youth in grades 3‐8 and can accommodate up to 125 students. More information on their program is available at http://www.fultoncountyoh.com/index.aspx?NID=1278 
Pickaway SWCD – Pickaway SWCD puts on “Experience Earth" Day Camp for children who have completed 3rd or 4th grade. It takes place for three days each July, and campers are charged a small fee. http://www.pickawayswcd.org/experience-earth-camp.html
Shelby SWCD holds a 3-day Conservation Day Camp that teaches kids, in grades 2-5, the importance of caring for the world around you.  Educational activities include archery, fishing, medal investigations, and butterfly observations. https://co.shelby.oh.us/soil-water-conservation-district/events-annual-sales/

Community Programs

SWCDs provide a wide variety of educational and informational programs targeting the general public. A few of the most common examples are listed below, along with tips, sample agendas, or links to exemplary programs and/or resources.
Arbor Day Programs – Traditionally, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. While it is a worldwide event, in individual communities the date is frequently set to tie in with optimum tree planting conditions for the area, or to coincide with Earth Day celebrations. National Arbor Day info at http://www.arborday.org/
Community Events – SWCD’s may participate in large community events 
Fall Foliage Tour – Medina https://www.medinacountyparks.com/index.php/partners/fall-foliage-tour
Fall Farm Fest – Miami  https://www.miamicountyparks.com/fall-farm-fest
Breakfast on the Farm – SWCD’s have partnered with local Ohio Farm Bureau’s and OSU Extension’s to help the public learn about modern food production practices and introduce them to the farm families who work hard to produce a safe, wholesome food supply for Ohio communities and the world.  Participants to enjoy a breakfast featuring an Ohio-grown and produced menu of items as well as a farm tour.  
Fulton SWCD https://www.fultoncountyoh.com/1495/Breakfast-on-the-Farm


Big Tree Contest – The Big Tree Contest is designed to stimulate or continue interest in trees. In this competition, entrants submit a nomination for a predetermined type of tree that they believe to be the largest in their county. Guidelines for the Big Tree Contest are determined by the ODNR Division
of Forestry. Winning trees may be nominated for the Ohio Big Tree Program. http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/championtrees. Gallia SWCD awards an engraved plaque made from the same type of wood as that of the contest tree. They also present the winner with a copy of National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. Other SWCD Big Tree contests:
Lorain SWCD - http://lorainswcd.com/forms/2017-Big-Tree-contest-rules.pdf
Geauga SWCD - http://geaugaswcd.com/home

Photography Contest – Photography contests provide a great way to make the public aware of your SWCD and what you do. To successfully hold a contest you must set a theme, provide a timeline and guidelines, select winners, and decide on prizes and ways to promote the contest. Winning photos are often displayed at SWCD annual meetings.
Athens SWCD used their winning photo and top honorable mention winners to create a beautiful calendar. https://www.athensswcd.org/
Defiance SWCD photos must have a natural resource theme including wildlife, landscapes, agriculture, and people enjoying nature. https://www.defianceswcd.org/photo-contest.html
Paulding SWCD has a separate contest for those over 18, and those under 18.  They use their 8X10 photos online, in publications, and for promotional purposes. http://www.pauldingswcd.org/education-outreach-1/contests/photo-contest/

County Fair Programs

County fairs can be an ideal place to promote your SWCD through personal contact or via unmanned displays, exhibits, flyers, or educational models. It always helps to have a “hook” to capture fairgoers attention and kindle an interest in what you have to share. For example, offer a prize, provide free water and a place to sit, have a quick and easy activity for kids, such as making a seed mosaic or getting their picture taken with a cute farm animal or on a toy tractor.

District Owned or Managed Outdoor Learning Centers

Several SWCDs own and/or manage outdoor learning centers where they demonstrate best management practices, host school programs and special events, and promote conservation.
Ashland SWCD – Hazel Willis Woods https://www.ashlandswcd.com/
Delaware SWCD Natural Resources Park at the Delaware County Fairgrounds – https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/natural-resources-park/
Meigs SWCD Conservation Area – http://www.meigsswcd.com/conservation-area.html
Seneca SWCD Miller Farm – http://conservesenecacounty.com/millerconservationfarm/
Tuscarawas SWCD Norma Johnson Center – http://normajohnsoncenter.com/

Earth Day Celebrations

Traditionally Earth Day has been observed on April 22. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin came up with the idea for a peaceful educational event, and his dream became a reality on April 22, 1970. Now Earth Day in an annual event celebrated throughout the world. Many of the activities conducted by SWCDs such as water festivals, canoe floats, stream clean-ups, and poster contests can easily be retitled and fine-tuned to fit the Earth Day theme. Some good online resources for planning an Earth Day event can be found at:

Education Tools

Models – Most SWCDs have available a variety of educational models for use in bringing natural resource concepts and processes to life for their audiences. Most common are the EnviroScape Watershed model and the Drinking Water and Waste Water Treatment model (http://www.enviroscapes.com/models.html).  
The Ground Water Flow Simulator (http://www.envisionenviroed.net/) helps teach concepts such as fractured bedrock, confined and unconfined aquifers, artesian wells, and ground water recharge and discharge. 
The Streamulator provides insights into stream dynamics and the value of riparian buffers. http://www.carrollswcd.org/education.html 
Augmented Reality Sandboxes  demonstrate principles of topography as small groups review topographical maps and design their own landscapes.  Ross SWCD  https://www.rosscountyswcd.org/news 
Each SWCD has their own policy for demonstrating or lending out their models. 

Portable Exhibits – Several SWCDs have interactive educational trailers or other portable exhibits that can be used for special events such as county fairs, school programs and teacher workshops, water festivals, and other community events. Several examples include:
Butler SWCD – The World Beneath Your Feet, Soil and Water Educational Trailer – https://www.butlerswcd.org/trailer
Delaware SWCD – The World Below the Tree Roots inflatable soil tunnel – https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/soil-tunnel/
Franklin SWCD – Journey Through the Soil painted canvas tent, a dry stream model,and a soil erosion simulator are just a few of their interactive exhibits. https://www.franklinswcd.org/education
Muskingum SWCD – Aquatic Education Trailer – http://www.muskingumswcd.org/PDFs/Aquatic%20Education%20Trailer.pdf
Erie Basin RC& D – S. K. Worm allows for basic audience interactivity. The model moves and talks; activated either by a push button interface or from live takeover controlled by an instructor. Designed to help third grade students meet their Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Benchmarks for Earth and Space science, the model will teach soil composition, soil conservation, soil diversity, and renewable energy. The model can also be used at events to educate the general public on the importance of soils in our environment, including fairs, field days, day camps, and other venues. The S.K. Worm model is available for rental by educators and other groups. A trailer painted with an environmental mural transports the model. For more information click on this link: Order Form, Rental Form, Coloring Book, Activity Book.

Kits for Loan – Lending trunks are great, compact, mobile resources. They contain a variety of resources for a particular topic and can be loaned out to educators for a specific period of time. In addition to books and posters, trunks should contain items that students can touch, smell and hear as well as supplies for hands-on activities. Examples of trunk themes include agriculture, forestry, recycling, soils, water quality, nonpoint source pollution, and more. The ODNR/Division of Wildlife has developed a number of trunks that can be borrowed from their District Offices on a variety of different species.
Wayne SWCD- https://www.wayneswcd.org/home/education/teacher-trunks  has a variety of teacher trunks, materials to borrow, and additional education resources that can be downloaded off their website. The trunks are made to create a lesson, help accentuate school lessons, and make learning a lot more exciting!

Out-of-the-Box Ideas

Districts may choose their own outreach ideas that are specific to their individual district or region.  It may be a passion of a staff member, or an idea that other staff are willing to help with.  Below you will find a few examples of districts that had Out-of-the-Box ideas that have been very successful!

Knox SWCD developed a mobile device application (Android and Apple) with Knox County Farm Bureau to help producers track their fertilizer and manure applications and ensure compliance with regulatory record keeping requirements. It uses GPS to pinpoint exactly where farmers are on their acreage, record the current weather conditions, and provide a warning if the weather isn’t favorable to apply fertilizer or manure nutrients. It has been used throughout Ohio and in several other states. The web account, which instantly links farmers’ data and updates records, can be set up at onmrk.com .
Portage SWCD encourages environmental responsibility by promoting local businesses that commit to sustainable practices, thus reducing plastic waste in the Great Lakes and Ohio’s rivers. They have a set criterion that the business must follow and are rewarded with a logo portrait to hang in their establishment.  http://www.portageswcd.org/lake-river-friendly
Erie SWCD partners with other local organizations to host an annual Upcycled Runway. Designers create amazing outfits out of recycled and disposable items to raise awareness for water quality issues in the Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie.  http://erieconserves.org/
Holmes SWCD has a rainfall Simulator spreads “rainfall” by uniformly spraying five different, side-by-side groundcover samples.  Each sample, taken from local fields, represents a different management practice. Clear collection jars beneath each sample show the amount and clarity of run-off water and water that has infiltrated into the soil. http://www.holmesswcd.com/farm-news/2019/10/24/rainfall-simulator-demo-hopes-to-precipitate-change
Hamilton SWCD holds and annual event to raise funds for water education signage in their parks.  Local artists transform 65-gallon urn style rain barrels into one of a kind pieces of art.  The art is judged, then available for auction. https://www.rainonmain.com/2019.html


A modern Soil and Water Conservation District could not function without the use of the latest technologies. If 2020 taught us anything, it was to learn how to best deliver information to the public on multiple platforms.  
Cuyahoga SWCD uses their Google Forms on their webpage to encourage and promote Individual Acts of Conservation. https://www.cuyahogaswcd.org/programs/individual-acts-of-conservation
Many SWCD’s use social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep landowners and schools up to date with many of the ongoing programs. 
Jefferson SWCD uses their website and Instagram page to give updates on their state endangered Eastern Hellbender, Branagan. https://www.instagram.com/branagan_hellbender/
Hamilton SWCD has a district YouTube channel and uses their Instagram page to promote their YouTube videos and district events.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEjmQz19OqaNoaAxkaejjiw 
Warren SWCD started an education blog with articles added monthly that are relevant to both conservation and the seasonal changes.  https://www.warrenswcd.com/education.html 

When using digital communications, always remember to maintain professional standards.  While email is often considered less formal then a paper letter sent regular mail, items such as grammar, spelling, and format standards should be maintained.  A poorly written email filled with misspellings and grammatical errors will reflect badly on both the sender and the district.

SWCD Engineering & Technical Assistance

This program works with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service engineers to provide training and support to enable SWCDs to increase the number and quality of conservation practices installed by landowners to meet resource management and needs on their land. Division engineers also develop standards and specifications that allow SWCDs to use new and improved technologies to assist urban and rural landowners and land users.This program provides oversight and assigns job approval authority to approximately 200 SWCD technicians. Conservation engineers have developed a training and classification program titled the Technician Development Program, which includes 20 training modules. Conservation engineers also provide technical oversight for Conservation Works of Improvement Projects implemented by SWCDs, and developed Ohio's Rural Drainage Manual as part of this program.

Ohio Drainage Law
Electronic Field Office Technical Guide (USDA-NRCS)
DSWC Technician Training Video Channel - YouTube

Technician Development Program

The Technician Development Program or "TDP" was developed in 2003 with the objective of building the technical capacity of Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff, leading to better planned, designed, and constructed conservation practices. The focus of the program is on newly hired staff, but all SWCD, NRCS and partner staff are welcome to attend any class needed for their professional development.

TDP provides hands-on instruction of engineering fundamentals and conservation practice design in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Ohio USDA-NRCS on a statewide basis. The program is arranged into four distinct categories:

The Beginner Level:  The beginner level series is intended to form a good foundation of knowledge and technical skills to get any technical staff off on the right foot. The Beginner Level courses includes:

  • AG POLLUTION ABATEMENT PROGRAM (This course is available without registration or fees)

Advanced Level Courses:  These are generally practice specific classes that go into more in-depth discussions on theory, design, calculations and construction practices and includes topics such as grassed waterways, wetlands, nutrient management and grade stabilization structures.  These courses are best suited for technicians that have completed the Beginner Level and have 1-2 years of conservation related experience under their belt.

Grazing Series:  These courses are designed for technicians that assist grazing operations and covers everything from the basics to advanced topics.  Past course offerings have included grazing management plans, fencing, stream crossings and watering facilities.  Typically several courses are offered each year in the Grazing Series.

Urban Series:  This class series was started in 2021 with the goal of providing training for district staff that are involved with meeting the requirements of Ohio EPA’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit.  To date, the class series has included an Introduction to Urban Conservation, Stormwater Regulations and Urban Hydrology.  Additional courses are currently being developed and will include topics such as basic erosion and sediment controls and stormwater pollution prevention plans.  All of the classes offered so far have been webinars and recordings of the webinars are available here:  Urban Conservation Webinars

Supplemental Webinars
In addition to the classes, the program has offered a number of webinars over the years that cover a wide range of topics including AutoCAD, ArcMap, drainage law and water control structures.  The recordings for all of the webinars are available on our DSWC YouTube Page.  Click on the “Playlists” tab to see the videos organized by topics.

To Register:
Register for any currently available classes through this link:  https://www.apps.agri.ohio.gov/SWCD/.  Payment options for classes include debit or credit card, electronic fund transfer or select “Pay Later” to mail in a check.  All NRCS employees should select the “Pay Later” option.

For more information contact Tim Fulks at 614-581-3521 or timothy.fulks@agri.ohio.gov


Administrative Development Program

The Ohio Department of Agriculture—Division of Soil & Water Conservation offers annually the Administrative Development Program that provides training to multiple staff positions and board members.  The program allows a participant to attend all course sections or an option to attend individual sessions and send alternate employees or board members to special skill set trainings.  The Division also offers a price discount if the district signs up for all the training sessions helping the district budget.

The Administrative Development Program  offers training support solutions in the following areas:

  • Human Resources
  • Strategic Planning
  • Fiscal Management
  • Board Governance
  • Program Development 
  • Program Marketing and Branding
  • Grant Management

Recent ADP Webinar Recordings
(Click on the title to view the video)

Risk Management for SWCDs  Join Mike Brown, Executive Director of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies, in this session that focuses on and identifies potential risks that may impact SWCDs such as human, financial, operational, reputational, and structural aspects of the SWCD.    

Successful Planning Sessions  Ohio Department of Agriculture – Division of Soil & Water Conservation Program Specialists discuss the main components for successful strategic and planning meetings including objectives, stakeholders, supporting documents and meeting details.  The training also includes four districts from across the state sharing different methods of how they’ve held district planning sessions. Highlighted are Franklin SWCD, Ottawa SWCD, Butler SWCD and Coshocton SWCD.    

Optimizing Summer Outreach  Ohio Department of Agriculture – Division of Soil & Water Conservation Program Specialists discuss educational program evaluation and development.  Fairfield, Hamilton and Hocking SWCDs share ideas on expanding beyond traditional education by using youth camps, fair booths, and virtual outreach that they’ve successfully used in their programming.  Martin Joyce, ODA-DSWC, also demonstrates how to enter events into Beehive for reporting.    

SWCDs and Taxes  The Ohio Department Taxation provides insight into a SWCD’s responsibility to collect sales/use tax from customers and possible exemptions from the tax requirement. Also covered is information on how to file and pay sales tax.  Cathy Berg, ODA – DSWC Program Specialist, provides information on completing and filing the different 1099 forms with the Internal Revenue Service.   

Permits and Permissions   Rebecca O’Neil, ODA-DSWC Program Specialist, focuses on a district’s responsibilities regarding the use of copyrighted materials and copyright infringement.  Alexandra Lombard, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources Assistant Permit Coordinator, shares information on necessary wildlife permits and education permissions needed by SWCDs when collecting specimens for survey and/or educational purposes.   

The Buzz on Beehive   Martin Joyce, ODA-DSWC Beehive Coordinator, demonstrates how to enter goals into the Beehive data reporting software and focuses on Annual Plan of Work and Annual Report functions within Beehive   

Auditor of State Updates (November 2021) – Richard Cunningham, Ohio Auditor of State, provides updates and  insights into various financial, reporting and policy requirements such as Certificate of Transition, payments by credit cards, grant reporting, sales tax, etc. to help prepare for upcoming SWCD audits.

Ethics and 2022 SWCD Resources & Reminders – Susan Willeke with the Ohio Ethics Commission provides insight into Ohio’s ethics laws and requirements. Her presentation addresses various situations and questions she has experienced during her career.  Division of Soil and Water Conservation Program Specialists follow-up with a review of the 2022 SWCD Reminders & Resources.

Working with Multiple Generations – Today’s workplace may have people from up to 5 generations working together. Each generation has unique characteristics that can impact aspects of their job and office continuity.  Beth Flynn from the Ohio State University Leadership Center dives into these differences and provides insight to better understand each generation and help the multi-generational office function at a high level.

Diversity & Inclusion – Join USDA-NRCS Civil Rights Advisory Committee Chair Cheryl Rice (she/her) and Megan Burgess USDA-NRCS Civil Rights Advisory Committee Member and LGBTQ+ Special Emphasis Program Manager as they share insight into the topic of diversity and inclusion.  Discussion points include, tangible value and benefits, bias, personal pronouns and today’s changing workplace.

Administrative Basics – Join Area 2 Program Specialist Rebecca O’Neill, Franklin SWCD Director Jennifer Fish and Coshocton SWCD District Administrator Deb Bigelow as they share insight into board meeting preparation.  Topics discussed include packets, action items, minutes, financial reports, and board meeting procedures.  The webinar concluded with Vickie Cavote from the Ohio Department of Taxation.  She provided information on ways collected sales taxes could be submitted both through The Gateway and Telefile as well as some tips and tricks.

Job Postings & Announcements – Please join Ohio State University Career Development Manager Adam Cahill as he shares best management practices for creating job postings and announcements. He also provides insight into what today’s workforce is seeking when looking for a career, what fields of study students are graduating from and demonstrates available tools for employers and job seekers.

Beehive Reporting Tools – Martin Joyce Beehive Project Manager with the ODA-DSWC  leads this webinar focused on the Annual Plan of Work capabilities of the Beehive Reporting System.  The Annual Plan of Work template can be utilized to track each district’s staff time and progress on activities towards accomplishing their goals. 



To obtain slide presentations or additional reference material from any of these webinars please reach out to your ODA/DSWC Program Specialist or Cody Hacker by email. 

For more ADP training information including up coming ADP sessions, contact Cody Hacker by email or by calling 614-809-1009.

New Employee Training

Attention SWCD District Administrators: Please notify Martin Joyce by email at martin.joyce@agri.ohio.gov as soon as your new employee information for Beehive is available. This information will help to register staff in the New SWCD Employee Online Training. Credentials will be sent via email. 

New SWCD employees are encouraged to complete a new employee training course designed by ODA-DSWC to introduce employees to the many aspects of the organization and operations of soil and water conservation program delivery in Ohio. What you will learn will not only help you understand your local role better but also give insight into a committed community of conservation professionals ready to assist you as you grow in your career.

Although navigation through the entire training is possible from within the application, trainees may also use the links below to access individual modules and lessons directly.

The course was developed using SoftChalk software. Each module includes an overview, 2 lessons, and a final assessment exam, which the trainee may attempt up to four times to achieve a minimum score of 75%. Successful completion of each module assessment will allow the trainee to print a certificate. Although the lessons are available to anyone, access to the module assessments and printing certificates requires a username and password, which may be obtained by contacting your ODA-DSWC program specialist.

When credentials are issued, students will also receive guidance on the technical requirements and browser set-up requirements to view and maneuver through the course content especially as it relates to ensuring that assessment scores are properly recorded in the SoftChalk ScoreCenter.

Before beginning this or any other DSWC online training, please view the video DSWC Online Training Orientation for All Online Training Courses.

Introduction to Ohio Soil and Water Conservation

Course Introduction and Technology Requirements

Module 1 – Our Rich History and Organization
Lesson 1.1 –  Ohio SWCD History
Lesson 1.2 – Ohio Conservation Partnership
Module 1 – Assessment

Module 2 – Powers and Money Designed to Deliver Conservation
Lesson 2.1 –  SWCD Powers
Lesson 2.2 – SWCD Finances
Module 2 – Assessment

Module 3 – Ohio Sunshine Law and Ethics Law Responsibilities
Lesson 3.1 – Ohio Open Records and Open Meeting Act
Lesson 3.2 – Ohio Ethics Law
Module 3 – Assessment 

Module 4 – Activity Reporting, Training and Benefit Opportunities
Lesson 4.1 – Soil and Water Information Reporting
Lesson 4.2 – Training and Benefit Opportunities
Module 4 – Assessment  

Beehive Login

Use this link to create a desktop shortcut, browser bookmark or to directly reach the login page for Beehive:  https://www.beehere.net/?app=Ohio.

Guidance on soil and water conservation district information reporting is found in Chapter 3 of the SWCD Administrative Handbook (see tab above) or click here.

Attention SWCD District Administrators: Please provide Martin Joyce with your new employee information as soon as it is available to ensure timely creation of Beehive login credentials.