Education and Outreach

Now more than ever, children and adults need to understand how the environment in which they live, play and work functions and realize their role in the system. Individuals have become so disconnected from the environment and the natural resources that sustain them that they don’t know where their food or drinking water comes from. The health of the environment and these resources is inseparable from our well-being and economic prosperity. Environmental education is a lifelong process for the learner and is the key to teaching present and future generations about our unique resources and why it is important to conserve and become stewards of them.

NHSWCD offers, at no cost to county residents, environmental educational programs for all ages. Our qualified staff is available to bring programs to pre-K through college classrooms, to civic or scouting groups, to business professionals as well as Home Owners Associations. Each visit and presentation is tailored to meet the groups’ needs. To make a successful event for your group, we limit most group presentations to 25 people, but we can often work with you accommodate larger groups.

To schedule a program, please complete the following form. Staff will be in contact to schedule presentations after receiving the request form.

You can also check our calendar of events to help with scheduling. Please be aware that Fall and Spring dates fill up quickly!

At NHSWCD, we address many local environmental topics and concerns. Click on the links below to learn more about the following EE topics:


The Enviroscape program is an interactive model of a watershed that enables students to visually learn about stormwater runoff, water pollution, water quality, watersheds, and personal stewardship. NHSWCD Staff brings all of the activity materials to the classroom.

Click here for more information on the ENVIROSCAPE

Environmental Field Days

District staff are happy to provide environmental field days to New Hanover County residents. Field days can be tailored to fit your academic goals. Most field days consist of a half day program with multiple stations including, but not limited to, forestry, water quality, wildlife and soils.

field daysTeacher Workshops

NHSWCD offers teacher workshops upon request.  NHSWCD Staff are trained facilitators for a variety of programs including wetland ecology and agriculture and natural resource management. The aim of workshops is to help teachers stay abreast of new environmental topics as well as providing curriculum guides.

Listen to what participants from past workshops have had to say about our programs:

– “Dru went the extra mile to help me enroll and feel welcome.”

– “This has been the best workshop I’ve attended in 7 years of teaching experience. Please continue!”

– “I love your program and hope it continues! It keeps us informed about what you offer and the guest speakers keep us excited about bringing new ideas to our classroom.”

– “I look forward to your workshops!”

– “This workshop provides useful information for teachers of any grade level and any subject – even though the subject is based in environmental science. The instructors are helpful and willingly make the course meet your needs. You receive materials that can be used in the classroom and are encouraged to think in ways that are appropriate to your needs. I’ve taken a lot of workshops offered by other institutions and anything offered by the SWCA is always heads above anything else.”

If you are interested in learning more about our K-12 programs please contact us.


Envirothon is a team based competition tailored for middle and high school students. The competition focuses on developing natural resource knowledge and real world application. Competitions take place at the regional and state level. If your child’s school is interested in forming a team, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

Click here for more information and videos of the Coastal Envirothon and State Envirothon

Annual Conservation Creativity Contests

Did you know we sponsor contests?  We participate in the NC Soil & Water Educational Contests, including Poster, Speech and Essay contests on a particular theme each year. These contests give students an opportunity to explore soil and water conservation through art, writing, and public speaking.  Educational Contests focus on a soil or water theme each year and align with NC Essential Standards.  These contests are a great way to reinforce concepts learned with a homework option or extra credit. Students can compete locally through the school and county competitions. First place county winners will advance to the Soil & Water Area 6 competition. Top winners from all eight Soil & Water areas compete at the state level for cash prizes.

Contest Themes

2021-2022 “Soil & Water…Yours for Life”

2022-2023 “Water…The Cycle of Life”

Types of Contests & Age Groups

Poster Contest:  Grades 3, 4, 5, & 6–Students create an artistic representation of the theme on posterboard

Essay Contest:  Grade 6–Students write a 300-500 work essay on the contest theme

Speech Contest:  Grades 7 & 8–Students deliver a 4-6 minute speech on the contest theme presented to a panel of judges

Computer Designed Slide Show: Grade 6 — Students design a digital presentation using 15 slides or less

Graphic Design Poster Contest: Grade 6 — Students design a digital poster around the contest theme

Please contact us for more information and to get your school involved!

Official Rules & Entry Forms

Supporting Documents & Programs

Schedule a Classroom Program

101 Student Conservation Contests

2020-2021 Contest Handbook

Important Weblinks:

NC Department of Agriculture: Education Contest Website

This site is under construction! Please email for more information.

storm drain markingWater quality is critically important to our own quality of life. Over the past several decades, New Hanover County has experienced a decline in water quality related to human activities. One of the chronic threats to our local water quality is fecal coliform bacteria, which is commonly found in pet waste. Picking up pet waste is one way to ensure our waterways stay clean for future generations of humans and wildlife.

You probably know that the catch basins and storm drains that run along our streets and road curbs collect rain water. When rain water collects and runs over the ground and into the storm drains and culverts, it becomes stormwater. As stormwater flows across the streets and landscape, it collects oil, grease, debris and other pollutants. Stormwater then flows directly into the nearest stream, creek, or lake, and in our community can flow directly to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic ocean.

Stormwater does NOT go to a treatment plant to be cleaned! This is a common misconception and many residents pour oil, paint, cigarette butts, yard waste, medicine and other chemical pollutants into the storm drains because they think it gets cleaned before finding its way to the Cape Fear River or the Intracoastal Waterway. However, that is not the case.

You can help protect our waterways through spreading the word, installing rain barrels, or by becoming involved in our volunteer opportunities or those of our many partner organizations. If you are interested in a presentation about stormwater or actively helping us spread the word about water quality, district staff are happy to provide a Stormwater 101 presentation to your community or local organization and lead volunteer groups in storm drain marking. Contact us for more information.

Please clink on the links below to learn how you can play a major role in protecting your local water quality. Help protect out waterways by reporting stormwater pollution! Call 910.341.1020 or report online.

For more information about City of Wilmington Stormwater Services programs please visit: 

Check out this short video for a message on the importance of scooping the poop and the City’s pet waste ordinance!

Visit our Stormwater Solutions page to learn more!

Pet Waste Information:
In partnership with the City of Wilmington Stormwater Services, NHSWCD is happy to provide information about the City of Wilmington Pet Waste Ordinance. Please visit the following links for more information.

Shortnose Sturgeon Information:
In partnership with the City of Wilmington Stormwater Services, NHSWCD is happy to provide information about the endangered shortnose sturgeon. Please visit the following links for more information.

Operation Medicine Drop:
Is your medicine cabinet crowded with leftover medicines? That’s a dangerous situation! If you keep drugs around, they could fall into the wrong hands. But if you flush them down the toilet, they pollute our river and ocean. Then everyone is taking your medicine… wildlife included! The solution: Operation Medicine Drop, also called Operation Medicine Cabinet. Operation Medicine Cabinet is a coalition of NC agencies and nonprofit organizations that holds Operation Medicine Drop prescription drug take-back events across NC to encourage the public to safely dispose of unused and unwanted medication. By providing safe and secure ways for people to get rid of unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, Operation Medicine Drop helps prevent accidental poisonings and drug abuse while protecting our waters. North Carolina holds its biannual Operation Medicine Drop the 4th week of March to coincide with Poison Prevention Week.

See our Volunteer page for many more annual events that NHSWCD is involved in such as; Keep America Beautiful’s Big Sweep and Tree Fest or our annual Earth Day celebration.

Annual Education Programs Tri-Fold Brochure

Soil and Water Conservation: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 100 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7130 • Fax 910-798-7282
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