Bobby Whitescarver and Jeanne HoffmanSwoope, VA
Robert “Bobby” Whitescarver and Jeanne Hoffman
Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District
Bobby holds a degree in agronomy from Virginia Tech and a Masters of Public Administration degree from James Madison University. He is a retired NRCS district conservationist (DC), having served 31 years in the field, and currently is an associate director for the Headwaters SWCD. In 2016, Bobby was named the Watershed Champion of the Year by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay for his work in planting riparian buffers.
Jeanne is the ninth generation in her family to farm in Swoope, located in America’s legendary Shenandoah Valley in the western part of Virginia. The couple’s farm is within the South Fork Shenandoah River Watershed, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Bobby’s book, Swoope Almanac, Stories of love, land, and water, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was released on Earth Day 2019. “It’s definitely about conservation and soil health, but more importantly, it’s an almanac of life on a farm through the seasons, and the journey to improve the health of the river that flows through the farm,” the retired DC said.
Along with Jeanne’s mother, Bobby and Jeanne operate a commercial cow/calf operation with 142 brood cows. “This is a grass farm with all perennial grass,” Bobby told NACD. “We’ve been using rotational grazing practices and specialized watering systems, excluding livestock from streams and wetlands, implementing riparian buffers, and utilizing nutrient management since 2004.”
“We have seen very positive results,” he continued. “It’s easier to get the cows into the barnyard, we can graze more animals per acre, we have fewer health issues, and we have increased the diversity of wildlife. Also, the E. coli pollution in the river was reduced by 30 percent on average. We’ve been producing good food and clean water.”
The biggest barrier to conservation practice adoption, Bobby said, is “creating the right incentives for more farmers to adopt stream fencing and riparian forest buffers.”
Bobby maintains his own blog called “Getting More on the Ground” and works with farmers to install best management practices through his environmental consulting firm, Whitescarver Natural Resources Management LLC. Through this work, he has been involved in implementing bank protection practices on over 600 miles of stream and helped landowners plant over a half a million native hardwood trees. To learn a bit more about Bobby and Jeanne’s farm, check out this blog post on the Potomac Conservancy’s website.
Updated April 2019.