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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. You will also find a complete handbook to download in the sidebar to the right.

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DSWC Chief Larry Vance, DSWR Chief David Hanselmann, and former DSWC Deputy Chief, Brad Ross for their contribution of historical content and review of the sections 1980 through 2012.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 Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission with the assistance of the division, provides a cloud-based software reporting tool for all SWCDs and the division to use. A legacy program called Soil and Water Information Management System or SWIMS has been retired after over ten years of use. It's replacement "Beehive" is also a web based administrative, operational, and decision making system that supports all conservation business functions and practices, across multiple Soil and Water Conservation Districts and administrative units. Beehive has been designed to meet the demands of multiple decentralized computing environments and the needs of diverse stakeholders and conservation program participants.

Beehive Login

Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission SWIMS Minimum Use Guidelines - May 2018

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
Chair's Board Meeting Evaluation
Simplified Parliamentary Procedures Table
Annual Plan of Work Template
Annual Plan of Work Guide Using SWIMS Planner Module
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 
Policy on Public Comment At SWCD Board Meetings - Sample
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
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  
SWIMS Pollution Complaint Guidance
SWCD Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Handling Pollution Complaints 

SWCD Forms and Guidance Documents

Agricultural Pollution Abatement

Agricultural Pollution Abatement Complaint Flow Chart
Agricultural Pollution Abatement Standard Operating Procedures
SWCD Process for Entering Pollution Complaints into SWIMS
Agricultural Pollution Complaint Intake Form for Beehive
Agricultural Pollution Investigation Form for Beehive
Agricultural Pollution Investigation Worksheet

Annual Plan of Work

SWCD Annual Plan of Work Template
​Annual Plan of Work Guide Using SWIMS Planner Module
​SWCD Planning Meeting/Local Work Group Meeting Model

Board of Supervisor Elections and Appointment

Request to OSWCC for SWCD Supervisor Appointment

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 Board of Supervisor Election Process and Procedures Guide
SWCD Election Voter Eligibility and Requirements
SEL-1 Election Legal Notice - Template
SEL-1a Sample Legal Notice Letter
SEL-2 Resident Request for Absentee Ballot
SEL-3 Non-Resident Firm Corporation LLC Trust Request
SEL-4 Candidates Submission and Ballot Request
SEL-4a Statement of Candidacy
SEL-5 Candidate Petition
SEL-6 Resident Registry
SEL-7 Non-resident, Firm, Corporation, Trust Election Registry
SEL-8 Non-resident Affidavit
​SEL-9 Corporation, Firm, LLC or Trust Affidavit
SEL-10 Election Results Form
SEL-11 Oath of Office


Agreed-Upon Procedures Eligibility Checklist
Certification of SWCD Fiscal Agent
2019 Form 11 - SWCD Request for State Matching Funds
SWCD State Match Contingency Calculator
FY2018 Conservation Assistance Fund Application
Preparing for Year-End for SWCD - Presentation

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

2020 Reminders and Resources Guide
2019 Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards

SWCD Reorganization and Partnership Roster

2018 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 Elections

What is the purpose of the SWCD Nominating Committee?

The Nominating Committee's purpose is to solicit qualified nominees and set the slate of candidates for the SWCD election. The Nominating Committee will meet to discuss board strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT Analysis). The Nominating Committee will then brainstorm for potential board candidates based on the SWOT Analysis, will recruit candidates for election, will complete the Ohio Soil & Water Conservation Commission (OSWCC) SEL-4 Form and submit the SEL-4 Form to ODA-Division of Soil and Water Conservation.

Additional Information:
A Nominating Committee should be composed of three members. The Chairman of the board shall appoint an SWCD Board Member who is not up for re-election for the next election, to chair the Nominating Committee and select two other Nominating Committee members. These Nominating Committee Members are often from outside the District and are selected to assist the Chair in pursuing board candidates that will strengthen the Board and bring needed diversity based on a SWOT Analysis. They should be knowledgeable of SWCD operations. District employees and USDA employees should not be part of the Nominating Committee. However, the office staff and partnership staff can assist the Nominating Committee by preparing a list of possible candidates for the Committee to review and consider.
Time Frame. The Nominating Committee shall be functioning at least six months prior to the election. The Nominating Committee should contact potential candidates, explain the roles and responsibilities and determine the person's willingness to be nominated and ability to serve if elected. When the Nominating Committee meets and selects their slate of candidates they will prepare the required District Board Member Candidate Submission and Ballot Request Form (SEL-4) and each Committee Member will sign the form certifying the slate of candidates. The District Program Administrator may assist the Committee with the completion of the Nomination portion of the form.The Committee must submit the signed form to the SWCD office 45 days prior to the election. The Nominating Committee sets the election slate and does not need SWCD Board approval of the slate. The SWCD election slate will include Nominating Committee Candidates and any Petition Candidates.

Additional Resources & References:
Election Process & Procedures
SEL-4 Form Candidates and Ballot Request
SEL-4a Statement of Candidacy
SWCD Administrative Handbook Chapter 4
OSWCC Policy


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‐nightresidential 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 

Muskingum SWCD – The Muskingum SWCD hosts Camp Adventure every summer for students entering the 4th, 5th, or 6th grade. It is held at Friendly Hills Grange Camp. Each year, approximately 100 children have the opportunity to experience the joy of nature in a safe and fun setting. For two days, campers explore the outdoors and enjoy hands-on activities based around a yearly theme.

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/education.html

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.
Possible Arbor Day related activities include: tree sales, community tree plantings, “big tree” contests, and school programs. Franklin SWCD offers a program featuring The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Students sit in the setting of The Lorax as they listen to the story. The 30 ft. wide felt backdrop hangs from a 10 ft. by 10 ft. pop-up tent. http://www.franklinswcd.org/programs-and-services/youtheducation/youth- presentations/ National Arbor Day info at http://www.arborday.org/

Backyard Conservation: Lawns & The Environment – The OFSWCD has partnered with the National Association of Conservation Districts and Scotts Miracle-Gro to provide resource materials, brochures, and sample presentations on how to care for your lawn in an environmentally friendly way. http://ofswcd.org


Big Tree – 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: Jefferson SWCD ,Pike SWCD, and Medina SWCD, among others.

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.
Summit SWCD displays their winning entry on a billboard.
Jefferson SWCD uses the photos in just about everything they do with marketing – flyers to advertise programs, brochures, blank note cards as meeting favors, the header on their newsletter. Official “judges” determine the top five entrants in each category, and then annual meeting participants determine the final winners. 

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
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:

Educational 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. 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 – http://www.butlerswcd.org/#!trailer/cpvs
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. http://www.franklinswcd.org/programs-and-services/youth-education/youthpresentations/
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.
Seneca SWCD has a variety of lending trunks shown on their education resource brochure. http://conservesenecacounty.com/school/

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.

Rural Drainage Systems and Conservation Works of Improvement

Through this program conservation engineers assist Ohio's SWCDs and county engineers with implementing rural drainage systems throughout Ohio. These systems include networks of tile and open drainage ways (ditches) that receive water from individual farms, home lots and small rural communities.  For additional information: Ohio Drainage Law resource page and Ohio SWCD Administrative Handbook, Chapter 7 - SWCD Guidelines for Conservation Works of Improvement.


SWCD Professional Development

Technician Development Program (TDP)

The Technician Development Program or "TDP" was developed in 2003 with the objective of increasing the technical capacity of Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff, with the goal of 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 assembled in tiers of classes based on beginning, intermediate and advances skills. Technicians may enroll in the entire program or simply take individual classes as needed. There is currently a TDP Beginner Level, with advanced courses being offered intermittently..

Beginner Level Courses


Registration Forms:

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

Administrative Development Program (ADP)

The Administrative Development Program or "ADP" is offered with the objective of developing valuable skills and professional capacity of any SWCD position in Ohio. The target audience of the program includes both new SWCD employees, and those veteran employees needing a skills refresher.

The program currently consists of seven classes designed to develop fundamental skills and build solid leaders with organizational excellence. The classes are offered throughout the year covering a variety of topics, and providing networking opportunities with professionals from many state agencies. Topics include:


For more information contact Rob Hamilton at 614-562-0738 or Robert.Hamilton@agri.ohio.gov

New Employee Training

Attention SWCD District Administrators: We ask that all SWCD Administrators begin to complete the following survey for new employees hired on or after November 1, 2019.  Please find the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2WCXYJD.

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 70%. 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 short cut, browser bookmark or to directly reach the login page for Beehive:  https://ohioswcd.map.beehere.net/Account/Login?returnUrl=%2FInternal.

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: We ask that all SWCD Administrators begin to complete the following survey for new employees hired on or after November 1, 2019.  Please find the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2WCXYJD.