The Bedford County Soil Conservation District has several programs intended to educate the public and promote natural resources conservation.

For more information about any of our Education or Outreach programs please contact David Scocchio or Gena Coats @ 931-684-1441 ext. 3


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Makayla Elizabeth Hickman was the 2016 Bedford County SCD scholarship recipient.  She graduated from Community High School and is majoring in Dairy Science at University of Wisconsin River Falls.  She is a member of the Bedford County 4-H and her hobbies are music, youth dairy programs, and showing dairy cows.  This scholarship is awarded to a Bedford County student who plans on majoring in agriculture or a related field.


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The Envirothon is an environmental competition in which high school students demonstrate their knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management.  The teams, each consisting of five high school-aged students exercise their training and problem-solving skills in a competition centered on four universal testing categories (i.e., soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, and wildlife) and a current environmental issue.  The teams can advance through local, regional, state, and national competitions. 

Each year, the winning teams from each region in Tennessee travel to a designated location in middle Tennessee for competition at the state level. This competition consists of separate quizzes in each of the five categories followed by a comprehensive question involving all five categories. The comprehensive question is included in both the state competition and the national competition. Students are given resources such as books, pamphlets and videos to study both before and during the state competition to come up with the most effective solution to the problem introduced in the comprehensive question. They will develop and deliver their presentation orally, using audio or visual aids if necessary.

Elementary Education

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Mackenzie Painter, USDA-NRCS, read a story about SK Worm, official annelid of the NRCS to kindergarteners at Community Elementary School.  The students’ questions about soil and agriculture were answered and they returned to their classrooms with soil desserts – each containing a layer of crumbled Oreos, chocolate pudding, crushed vanilla wafers and a gummy worm on top.  The different layers of a soil dessert are meant to represent the horizons in a soil profile.


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Gena Coats , Bedford County Soil Conservation District, and Mackenzie Painter, USDA-NRCS worked with kindergarteners at Liberty Elementary School to make Soil Babies.  To make a Soil Baby, pantyhose are filled with potting soil and tied off to create a ball.  Seed is placed inside the ball on top of where the “head” will be.  When watered, the soil baby grows a head of “hair” that is made of living grass.    The students enjoyed adding features to their soil babies including noses, ears, eyes, lips, mustaches, necklaces, and many others.  Every child’s creation was certainly unique and the activity was fun while helping to increase the students’ awareness of the importance of soil.

Poster Contest

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Cody Hodge, a junior at Cascade High School, came in 1st place in both the state and national conservation poster contests for 2017.  This is the second year in a row that Cody has placed 1st in the state competition.  He placed 2nd in the 2016 national competition.

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Cody Hodge, a sophomore at Cascade High School, placed 1st in the 2016 annual Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts poster contest.  The theme of this year's contest was "We All Need Trees" with a first place prize of $50.  The winners of the state contest go on to the National Association of Conservation Districts' contest to compete against other students from across the nation.  Cody placed 2nd in the national contest, earning an additional $150.

Duck River Fest

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The Duck River Fest is an annual educational activity for the fifth graders of Bedford County. It is sponsored by The Duck River Education Committee (DREC) and takes place every year in October.

 The students are bused to Shelbyville's River Front Park during the school day for two hours and rotate through stations. There are twelve education stations that are staffed by experts and professionals from local organizations, state agencies, and federal agencies. Each station is setup to cover one topic about the importance of protecting the Duck River. 

Bedford County SCD and the NRCS demonstrate the action and effects of non-point source pollution using a model farm and discuss the importance of preventing pollution within the Duck River Watershed.

The students collect data and analyze information, draw conclusions, and propose and implement action plans to enhance the river and riverside habitats.   The project’s innovative design bridges the gap between classroom studies and field work.

Through this educational opportunity students learn about their local environment and how to preserve it for future generations. It is an exciting, outdoor learning time for students that they will remember for many years.

Conservation Farmer of the Year

Dereck Layne - 2016 Conservation Farmer of the Year

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Dereck Layne was the recipient of the 2016 Conservation Farmer of the Year award, an award given annually by the Bedford County Soil Conservation District to a Bedford County farmer with a commitment to practicing conservation agriculture.  Dereck is a fourth generation farmer who has been involved in his family farming operation from the age of eight, when he began driving tractors and helping his father around the farm.  In 2007, Dereck started out farming on his own, purchasing equipment and renting land in order to expand the original operation.  Today he farms approximately 500 acres of no-till row crops.

Dereck planted 140 acres of soil health cover crops in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  The five-species mix he has been using includes wheat, cereal rye, crimson clover, hairy vetch, and tillage radish.  Diverse cover crops such as this help to improve rooting depth, aeration, and biological activity in the soil, in addition to providing cover and nitrogen for the following crop. 

In the mornings, Dereck works as a mail carrier, then he comes home to farm until dark.  Dereck and his wife Tracy have two sons, Mason and Morgan, and a third on the way, Micah.  They hope their sons will inherit Dereck’s work ethic and love of farming.  Most importantly, Dereck is a man of God, and he gives all the glory and praise to the Lord for being blessed with productive crops and with the conservation programs.

The Bedford County Soil Conservation District would like to thank Mr. Layne for helping to conserve Bedford County’s natural resources through his cover cropping practices.  Using cover crops to improve soil health and build soil organic matter ensures sustainability.  It also improves water quality by decreasing the need for pesticides and commercial fertilizers.  As a pioneer of soil health cover crops, Dereck Layne is setting a great example of stewardship for future farmers!


Environmental Awareness Week

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The Bedford County Soil Conservation District and NRCS educated approximately 1,200 1st and 2nd graders on soil conservation, water pollution prevention, riparian buffers and crop planting/harvesting.  The event was held over three days, September 26-28, at the Bedford County Agricultural Center.  Other local and state organizations such as the UT Extension, TNCEP, Interlocal Solid Waste Authority, TDF, Duck River and Tennessee Beekeepers Association, Farm Bureau and TWRA participated as well.  Heritage Farms, Tyson Foods, and Bedford Mulch donated materials for the event.  Environmental Awareness week is an annual event in Bedford County that takes place every September.