Columbia, SC—The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has named Principal Denise Barth of Catawba Trail Elementary School Richland County’s Conservation Principal of the Year for the 2015-2016 school year. Principal Barth was nominated for this award by her school faculty because of her dedicated support for environmental education and stewardship in the Catawba Trail school community. It is the second time Principal Barth has received this award.
For several years, Catawba Trail Elementary School has been a leader in environmental education initiatives. The campus boasts several large and growing school gardens, a nature trail, an outdoor classroom, wildlife habitats, compost bins and tumblers, a duck-and-fish pond, and an upcycled bottle greenhouse. Indoors, classrooms and the school cafeteria are fully engaged in reducing, reusing, recycling, and hands-on learning about environmental stewardship. Students raise trout in the classroom to release at Saluda Shoals Park; take field trips to Congaree National Park, Camp Leopold, and Lake Murray; and participate in conservation-themed contests and education exchange programs with other schools and local organizations.
In all these activities, teachers at Catawba Trail Elementary know exactly what to expect from Principal Barth: encouragement, support, and leadership. “There is not a learning experience for our students that Mrs. Barth has ever discouraged,” says Science Lab Teacher Vikki Pasco, who notes that the existence of a staffed science lab at the school when the science labs of many schools remain unoccupied is also “100% due to Denise Barth’s credit.” Principal Barth also provides financial support for environmental projects and allows flexibility for teachers to participate in conservation-related professional development, leadership, and service opportunities.
Principal Barth is also someone who leads by example, in conservation as in all things. “At a faculty in-service she was observed going through the trash can pulling out the boxes from lunch that could be recycled,” says Pasco. “What a fantastic example for our school leader to set!”
“To receive this award once is an honor,” says Richland SWCD Vice Chairman Jeff Laney, “but to receive it twice really emphasizes Principal Barth’s dedication and commitment to educating our youth about conservation. For some, conservation is just something they think they need to do as a part of their job. But for Principal Barth, it’s a part of who she is, and for that, we are grateful.”
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Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use of natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of Richland County.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
2020 Hampton Street, Room 3063A
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone (803) 576-2080
Fax (803) 576-2088