The NACD Summer Conservation Forum and Tour and Southeast Region Meeting offered a selection of four tours held Tuesday, August 7, from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The agriculture tour visited farms and farmers in east central Virginia who have built successful, profitable operations through conservation and provide their community with valuable ecosystem services. Farmers, agriculture advisers, policymakers, conservation and private industry professionals discussed recognizing, supporting and paying for agriculture’s ecosystem services through government programs and new, market-based approaches. The tour highlighted locations such as:
- Upper Shirley Vineyards – Lunch and speakers from Upper Shirley and Shirley Plantation. Upper Shirley Vineyards is next door to Shirley Plantation – topics here will focus on new ag efforts. Lunch speaker from both Upper Shirley and Shirley Plantation – Shirley Plantation is the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638. Shirley Plantation is Virginia’s first plantation (1613), and one of the first economic engines of the new world. A long list of great Americans were guests at Shirley, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. During the Revolution, Shirley was a supply center for the Continental Army. The mother of General Robert E. Lee was born at Shirley. Charles Carter, owner of Shirley Plantation, serves as a Director on the Colonial SWCD and welcomed tour participants.
- Renwood Fields – The Hulas are considered some of the most progressive crop producers in Virginia. Featured in numerous journals and winners of many awards, the Hulas are living proof that profitability and conservation of natural resources go hand-in-hand. The Hulas are currently the world record holder for corn yield. Their farm, located on the James River, uses innovative precision technology. On-site, tour-goers took part in conversation with David and Stanley Hula regarding production and precision agriculture, participated in a drone demonstration by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation staff, and toured the unique tractor museum on the premises.
Education & Coastal Topics Tour
This tour focused on environmental education as well as coastal topics. Attendees visited the Virginia Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, followed by a trip to the Virginia Institute for Marine Science.
The Watermen’s Museum is located on the Yorktown, Va., waterfront and demonstrates the role Chesapeake Bay Watermen, from pre-colonial to modern times, have played in the shaping of our nation. Tour participants enjoyed lunch by the river while hearing from key partners in our work, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Attendees also viewed a living shoreline, experienced the historic schooners, and more. Click here to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Watermen.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has a three-part mission to conduct research in coastal ocean and estuarine science, educate students and citizens, and provide advisory service to policy makers, industry and the public. VIMS provides these services to Virginia, the nation and the world. Chartered in 1940, VIMS is currently among the largest marine research and education centers in the United States. Participants visited the teaching marsh – a one-acre site restored to marshland for both practical and educational purposes. The marsh is designed and maintained by VIMS wetlands experts to naturally remove contaminants from Coleman Bridge storm water runoff, improving water quality in the York River. Learn more about the Virginia Institute of Marine Science by clicking here.
Urban & Forestry Tour
This tour touched on a wide variety of topics that demonstrated the positive impact various conservation efforts in the state have had on forested and private lands, urban areas and the economy. In partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP), participants enjoyed walks, talks and interactive sessions on forestry and urban stormwater initiatives – as well as the intersection of these two disciplines.
From Williamsburg, this tour traveled to the New Kent Forestry Center for a “lunch and learn” introduction to the center, the department and their many impactful programs. Attendees also heard from a panel of representatives including VDOF’s Tree Improvement Program, City of Newport News Waterworks and Dominion Energy.
The tour continued with an overview of New Kent Forestry Center facilities, before boarding the bus to learn more about VCAP and urban initiatives across the state. Before returning to Williamsburg, attendees stopped for a visit of one of our many urban stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs). Participants learned how VCAP, just a small pilot program a few years ago, has grown to be the latest in-demand effort of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) and participating districts.
The historical tour featured a visit to Historic Jamestown, where the first successful English colony in North America began in 1607. Lunch was provided on site by the Dale House Cafe. Following a one-hour guided tour, attendees visited the 1620 “New Towne” – an expansion of Virginia’s first capital, viewed ongoing archaeological investigations, the National Park Service visitor center, and the archaeology museum. The site is jointly administered by the National Park Service (1,500 acres) and Preservation Virginia (22.5 acres).
Before heading back to the Lodge, tour-goers made a 30-minute stop at the NPS Glasshouse, where interpreters use the same techniques and tools employed by glassblowers of 1608 to produce items for sale. English America’s first industry was glassblowing – learn more by clicking here.