Top 10…no wait, 22 of 2022 at Cuyahoga SWCD
As we wrap up 2022 and look back on the year, we started to jot down highlights of all that we’ve accomplished at Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD). What started as a top 10 list quickly turned into a top 15, which quickly turned into a top 20. And even a list of 20 just wasn’t enough to capture all the amazing work of our staff, board, and partners! While the top 22 is definitely an impressive list, there is still a ton not listed that just couldn’t fit. Here are the highlights from the past year:
1. We kicked off 2022 hiring Tim Becker, Education Program Specialist, to join our Watersheds & Education team. Tim has a teaching background and comes to Cuyahoga County via New York City. He dove right in and has been overseeing the N.U.T.S. (Native Urban Tree Starters) and George Washington Carver programs, in addition to providing support for many other District programs.
2. In February, the Education team hosted the 2022 Conservation Career Expo at the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio. More than 150 high school students from first ring schools were connected to local agencies and professionals to learn more about career pathways in environmental and conservation fields.
3. As facilitating organization for the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC), CSWCD helped organize the bi-annual Cuyahoga AOC Symposium, providing updates on Management Actions and delisting progress to the AOC Committee and other local stakeholders.
4. Throughout April, May and June, the District hosted a number of stream clean ups throughout the county including Big Creek, Bay Village, Bedford Heights, Maple Heights, Glenwillow, Warrensville Heights, and Oakwood Village. Our staff and volunteers removed hundreds of pounds of litter and debris from our local waterways, while learning about the importance of keeping our water clean.
Spring and summertime are always a great time of year for conservation events, programs, and workshops. Items #5-9 are some great examples of the many resources Cuyahoga SWCD offers to support for residents, businesses, and land owners in the county. These include:
5. Backyard Buffers program
6. Arbor Day and other community tree plantings
7. Rain Barrel Workshops
8. Green Yards, Healthy Homes Workshops
9. Master Rain Gardener Class
10 Midway through the year, we hired Watershed Coordinators, Kate Chapel & Kairsten Nitsch. Kate is leading watershed efforts in the Euclid Creek Watershed and Kairsten is helping coordinate efforts for the Cuyahoga AOC.
11. Our Watershed team was busy in 2022! Not only did we bring on two new staff, but we also secured funding through Ohio EPA for both the Mayfield Sandridge stream restoration project, a Cuyahoga River Management Action, and the Greenbriar Valley stream restoration project in the Rocky River watershed.
12. 2022 was a huge year for the Envirothon, especially in Ohio. Envirothon is a high school competition designed to stimulate, reinforce, and enhance interest in the environment and natural resources. This year the Area 2, state, AND national Envirothon competitions were all held in Ohio. Cuyahoga’s own Brecksville team even made it to the state competition!
13. Through funding from the NOAA B-WET program, our Education team was also able to launch the First Rings First Fellowship Program, offering first-ring science teachers in Cuyahoga County with FREE resources and professional development training to create meaningful, place-based watershed projects with their students. We are excited to see this program continue into 2023.
14. Throughout the year, Cuyahoga SWCD continued to support restoration of Cuyahoga County’s tree canopy. From helping administer the County’s Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grant program, to the N.U.T.S. & Foster-A-Tree Programs, the District is committed to helping municipalities, residents, and youth find ways to help reforest our communities.
15. Building off existing tree programs, the District was able to partner with The Negev Foundation to launch the Healthy Soils, Healthy Trees project. This project will examine the effectiveness of mycorrhizal inoculation on tree health, while also planting 180 trees.
16. Cuyahoga SWCD believes all people deserve improved and sustainable quality of life through clean water, healthy soil, and diverse habitats. In July 2022, the District released its statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Additionally, the DEI team, with support from the Board of Supervisors, created a list of Actions & Commitments for 2023 to continue directing the District’s DEI efforts.
17. As the District looks to grow and deepen our relationships in the community, we were excited to work with local houses of worship, congregations, and faith-based communities to help implement the National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds initiative, which works to actively link faith practices and caring for the environment.
Items #18 & #19 highlight ways Cuyahoga SWCD helps give back to our communities and residents. Through the (#18) Resident & Community Conservation Action Grants and Camp Canopy Sponsorships to our (#19) Stormwater Management Conservation Action Grants, the District provides numerous opportunities to empower our communities to take action in conservation.
20. While the staff at Cuyahoga SWCD works hard, we also know how to step back, relax, and try to have a good time as a team. The 2022 Staff Retreat, pumpkin carving contest, and various lunchtime board games remind us to have fun with our work and colleagues.
21. As you can see from items 1-19, there is TON going on here at CSWCD. So much so that we were able to grow our staff by two positions in 2022, including our newest Urban Technician position. This increased capacity will help us better serve our municipalities and residents in 2023.
22. On November 10th, we rounded out an awesome year by hosting the District’s Annual Meeting and Supervisor Election. We had a great turn out and Board member Mike Jirousek was re-elected to another term.
As you can see, we’ve been busy here at Cuyahoga SWCD and we can’t wait for all that’s to come in 2023!
To catch anything we missed or learn more about all that we’re up to at Cuyahoga SWCD throughout the year, you can sign up for our e-newsletter, check out our blog, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Blog Author: Kristin Hall, Executive Director