Erica Thomas

Erica Thomas is Administrator of the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District.

SHELBY -- Erica Thomas, District Administrator of Richland Soil and Water Conservation District has accomplished a lot since her reign began one year ago.

She has a degree in Environmental Policy and a Masters in Agriculture. Previously she worked with the state Legislative Commission on budgets and management. She and her two daughters live in Fredricktown where they raise sheep.

Thomas has always been a member of 4-H and in later years became a 4-H advisor. Both daughters are interested in agriculture. One is making a pollinator garden for Stars and Stripes, equivalent to the Boy Scouts higher degrees.

Thomas relishes getting things accomplished. Some of the accomplishments the Richland SWCD had this year in agriculture were:

Became a certified local sponsor for Ohio Department of Agriculture Farmland Preservation Program.

As a local sponsor, Richland SWCD will work with landowners who want their farmland preserved.

They received 1 application for 2019 and several new applications are being accepted.

Under Manure & You: The first annual Manure & You workshop was held in the Buckeye Community Center to learn about proper nutrient management techniques. Approximately 80 attended.

Richland SWCD partnered with: NRCS, Ashland, Crawford, Morrow, Huron SWCDs, ODA,OSU Extension and numerous private partners. Sponsors for the workshop were Ag-Pro Companies, Centerra Co-Op, East of Chicago Pizza, Country Metals, LLC, Fackler Kubota Tractor, FCBank, Farm Bureau-Crawford and Richland counties, The Ohio State University, and Putt Farms.

A Pond Clinic was held at Walnut Hills.

The Western Lake Erie Basin program grew in the past year.

Sandusky, Sharon, and Springfield townships are eligible for Western Lake Erie programs to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen in the Maumee Watershed.

Richland SWCD offers programs for Lake Erie CRP, NRCS EQUIP Cover Crops, Working Land Program, Forage Management, Buffer, and Small Grain Programs.

The MWCD Cover Crop Program grew to 206 acres in Richland County.

Richland SWCD met with ODA Director Pelanda and partnered with Morrow and Knox SWCD districts.

A new soil testing vendor has been hired at a cost-saving level.

Volunteers: Richland SWCD volunteers were recipients of the 2018 NRCS National and Northeast Regional Earth Team Awards.

A Volunteer Appreciation event was held to recognize the accomplishment and thank volunteers for all their work and dedication. Alta Florist and Greenhouse donated pansies for each volunteer and Richland SWCD gave each volunteer a Norway Spruce seedling.

Conducted training for Precipitation, Office, Lake and Stream Monitor Volunteers. Data reported throughout the year on the Water Data Map on website: https://richlandswcd.net/services/water/water-data-map

Volunteers also assisted with office projects, scanning and archiving historical photos and documents, special events and photography.

70 Volunteers were involved with Richland SWCD this past year.

Marketing and Outreach: Richland SWCD Annual Celebration was held with 114 attendees. Guy Denny spoke about Ohio Prairies. Win Meek was recognized as the Conservationist of the Year.

Mark Meinzer was recognized as Volunteer of the Year. Denny and Rhonda Berry shared pictorial and information board on how they installed an urban prairie in their yard. Sponsors were Alta Florist and Greenhouse, DRM Productions, Inc., Farm Credit Mid- America, Shady Lane Alpaca Farm, Amy Crutchfield, and Rob Workman, Richard and Janet Shellhouse, and The Vault Wine Bar.

Approximately 31,000 fish fingerlings were purchased through the Pond Fish Sales.

Richland SWCD collected 22 pounds of seeds from the public.

A pollinator Festival was held at Gorman Nature Center and included a Pollinator poster giveaway. Posters donated by USDA-NRCS. 89 milkweed seed packets were given away.

The Bellville Boy Scout Program had a Pollinator program and Milkweed seed removal day.

Richland SWCD coordinated the Land Judging contest at Rural Life Center.

Richland SWCD and Richland County schools participated in Area 2 Envirothon.

A partnership with Clear Fork FFA Alumni helped to sell approximately 10,000 tree seedlings.

RSWCD partnered with Richland County Commissioners, Richland Public Health, Richland County Regional Planning, Richland County Building Department, City of Shelby, City of Mansfield Engineering Department and Richland County Chamber of Commerce.

Richland SWCD coordinated the Nature Park Exhibitors and Presentations for Richland County Fair. The themes were: stormwater, rainfall simulator, rain barrel giveaway, a fish contest sponsored by Meijer, and fish Pond sponsored by Fender's Fish Hatchery and Alta Florist.

The Junior/Senior Class of Mansfield Christian School partnered with SWCD and is monitoring and reporting chemical and macro-invertebrate data on designated streams.

SWCD participated in OSU & NC State College Community Involvement and Intern Fairs.

Partnered with American Heritage Girls on Rain Barrel Painting and Tree Seedling planting.

Partnered on Earth Stewardship Celebration: Tree plantings, beautification and litter projects.

Partnered with Raising Richland Community Garden Summit by assisting with planning and making an information table with free resources.

Stormwater Programs: MS4 Program-The Clean Water Act (NPDES program) establish mandates for a stormwater management rogram in defined urban areas called the “Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems” (MS4) that is intended to improve waterways by reducing the quanity of pollutants that stormwater picks up and carries into storm sewer systems and deposits directly into waterways during storm events.

The 2019 theme was “Only Rain Down the Drain” promoted at the Richland County Fair, SWCD Website and in E-Newsletters.

October 21 through 25: Stormwater Awareness Week was proclaimed.

Process of digitizing stormwater maps and locating outfalls in MS4 areas.

339 stormwater permits were issued by the Richland SWCD in 2019.

Watch for more exciting things to be happening at Richland SWCD with Thomas in charge because she is always looking for ways to improve water and agriculture in this area.

For questions about soil and water, you can contact her at thomas.erica@richlandswcd.net.

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