Education & Outreach Programs

Field experiences for school groups to engage students in thinking critically about watersheds and the Chesapeake Bay.

TJSWCD is a sponsor of the Envirothon, a national environmental competition for high school students.

The Enviroscape is a 3D watershed teaching tool available to science classes of all ages.

TJSWCD offers two scholarships each year for local high schoolers to attend the Youth Conservation Camp, a week-long camp, sponsored by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and held at Virginia Tech in July.

We are proud to sponsor students continuing their education in conservation and environmental science.

Workshops and projects available to all residents within our District.

MWEE at Camp Albemarle

What is a MWEE?

MWEE stands for Meaningful Watershed Education Experience. A MWEE has multiple parts to it: defining your investigative question, doing a field investigation, data analyses, reflection on the findings, and sharing the information.

As defined by the Chesapeake Bay Program, a MWEE is an investigative or experimental project that engages students in thinking critically about the Bay watershed. MWEEs are not intended to be quick, one-day activities; rather, they are extensive projects that allow students to gain a deep understanding of the issue or topic being presented. Students participate in background research, hands-on activities and reflection periods that are appropriate for their ages and grade levels. These experiences

    ...are investigative or project oriented.
    ...are richly structured and based on high-quality instructional design.
    ...are an integral part of the instructional program.
    ...are part of a sustained activity.
    ...consider the watershed as a system.
    ...involve external sharing and communication.
    ...are enhanced by natural resources personnel.
    ...are for all students.


The District provides MWEE educational support to all fourth grade classes within Albemarle County and Charlottesville public schools. Camp dates are coordinated by Camp Albemarle and the Albemarle County or Charlottesville City School Science Coordinators.

The field investigations are conducted at Camp Albemarle near Free Union along the Moormans River, part of the Rivanna River Watershed. Cancellations due to inclement weather are made by the school, the day before if possible. There are limited rain dates in the schedule for such events. Watershed Education programs are available for other grades and schools as our schedule allows, so please feel free to inquire with the MWEE coordinator, Lauriston DaMitz.

These MWEE events include three stations facilitated by TJSWCD education staff and Rivanna Master Naturalist volunteers. These are the Enviroscape, Nature Hike, and Macroinvertebrate Stream Study. Different schools conduct various other stations to suit their time at Camp Albemarle and the number of students they have in attendance. A good reflection activity is Sense of Place which is based in the geography curriculum. TJSWCD provides staff and equipment for the three stations and may assist with other stations as needed.

MWEE Lesson Plans

    Other Stations conducted by Camp Albemarle classes to suit their group sizes and class needs


Louisa County High School Envirothon Team placed 8th in the state at the 2015 Virginia Dominion Envirothon!

Congratulations to Marissa Sperry, Taylor Comer, Alexis Culley, Samantha Heid, Morgan Caudill, Matt LaPorte, Joshua Isenhour and Kim Jancaitis Martinak (Envirothon Team Coach). Well Done!

The Virginia Dominion Envirothon is a natural resources competition for high school students. Students participating have opportunities for hands-on learning from natural resource professionals. Expanding their knowledge of soils, forestry, wildlife and aquatics. As well as developing stewardship and management concepts while formulating strategies to solve real and hypothetical environmental issues. At each level of competition (local, regional, state and nationals), students are tested “in the field” on their knowledge of natural resources and oral presentation of the special topic - a current environmental issue (2016 Invasive Species - a challenge to the environment economy and society).

Envirothon is a hands-on environmental problem-solving competition for high school age students. Students who participate learn stewardship and management concepts and work to solve real and hypothetical environmental issues. Teams compete in 5 areas: soils, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and the special topic (topic changes yearly). The competition is held in the field and teams have the opportunity to meet and work with natural resource professionals. Teams consist of 5 members plus 2 alternates, in grades 9 - 12. All schools, FFA, 4-H, and home-school students are welcome. The team coach can be a teacher or any willing adult.

Competiton Structure


Hosted by TJSWCD in March; first and second place teams proceed to the Area II competition. To compete, teams must be registered with TJSWCD by February 1.


Hosted by the Area II Soil & Water Districts in April; the top three teams proceed to the State level.


The Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) hosts the State level Envirothon in May.


The top team from each state meets at the National Envirothon. The 2016 Envirothon will be held in Canada this July.

Get Prepared!

The TJSWCD has resource back packs filled with study materials available for teams to borrow. There is one pack each for Wildlife, Soils, Aquatics, and Forestry. These packs are very hands-on and using them to study will undoubtedly help you. Please call the office and speak with Lauriston DaMitz for more information (434-975-0224 ext. 107). Team registraton is due for the Local Competition in February.


What is the Enviroscape?

The Enviroscape is a three dimensional teaching tool which visually demonstrates the water movement within a watershed. It is an interactive, portable model of a watershed that illustrates both water pollution and its prevention. Teaching with the Enviroscape is a hands-on, balanced approach that effectively demonstrates how protecting water quality is a whole community's responsibility. It allows students to be both the polluters as well as the protectors of the environment.

Who is the targeted audience for the Enviroscape?

The Enviroscape is appropriate for all ages. Depending on the age group, the degree of detail can be adjusted to suit the audience's attention span and level of comprehension.

What can I teach with the Enviroscape?

  • Watershed Dynamics
  • Sources of Pollution
  • How Pollution Occurs
  • How Pollution Can Be Prevented
  • How can I use the Enviroscape to address concerns in my area?

    The Enviroscape is a generic landscape that teaches responsible land use. Make the message personal and its significance increases. Use examples within your community. Is there a local golf course? Has anyone left a cleared building site without vegetation for months? Is your community serviced by a septic system? Encourage your students to make these connections to their community and let them come up with some real solutions that could be applied to problem areas.

    How can I access an Enviroscape model for my classes?

    The TJSWCD will loan out the Enviroscape. A $25 deposit is required and will be returned when the model is returned in good condition. Contact Lauriston DaMitz using the contact page or by calling (434) 975-0224 ext. 107. When you borrow the Enviroscape from the Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District, the model comes with a user guide, and upon request, the District can provide an age appropriate lesson plan. Additional Enviroscape training workshops are conducted periodically at TJSWCD.

    Youth Conservation Camp

    The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) annually sponsors a Summer Youth Conservation Camp to give high school students a chance to broaden and exercise their conservation knowledge and interests. Classroom and field activities are taught by some of the most knowledgeable instructors and professionals in the area. Students get a taste of college life, learn about career options in the conservation field, and have recreational time for hiking, swimming, sports, and other on and off campus activities.

    Camp applicants must be in grades 9 through 12 during the current academic year. Twelfth graders who graduate in May, June, July or August of the current academic year are eligible to attend. Previous campers may not attend.

    The 2017 Youth Conservation Camp will be held July 9-15, 2017, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. For full details please go to: VASWCD Youth Conservation Camp Home.

    Camp Tuition Sponsorship

    Students residing within the TJSWCD (Albemarle, Nelson, Louisa, and Fluvanna Counties, and the City of Charlottesville) are eligible to apply through the TJSWCD. The TJSWCD sponsors two students each year for the Youth Conservation Camp. Students must be able to provide their own transportation to and from Blacksburg.

    The 2017 camp and tuition sponsorship application period is now OPEN.


    Each year, TJSWCD offers one to three scholarships to students who demonstrate an active interest in conservation. One of those scholarships, the Eddie Wood Memorial Scholarship, is dedicated to applicants who most embody the conservation ethic of Eddie Wood.

    To be eligible, applicants must have a permanent address within the boundaries of the TJSWCD, which includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson Counties and the City of Charlottesville. Individual applicants must be full-time students enrolled in or who have applied to a college freshman level curriculum. Applicants shall document a class ranking in the top 20% of his or her graduating class or a 3.0 or greater Grade Point Average or appropriate equivalent of individual scholastic achievement. The applicant’s most recent official school transcript must accompany the application. A copy of a school transcript will not be accepted. Applicants shall demonstrate active interest in conservation.

    In addition to the TJSWCD scholarships, one applicant will be forwarded on to the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) for consideration in their statewide scholarship program. The VASWCD will award four (4) $1000 scholarships to Virginia students. Successful applicants can receive the TJSWCD scholarship, VASWCD scholarship, or both. Only one application form is necessary to apply for both scholarships.

    2017 Scholarship Opportunities

    Congratulations to JAMIE CONNER of Nelson County, KEEGAN CAMPANELLI of Fluvanna County and HUNTER WATKINS of Louisa County--2016 scholarship award winners! Our 2017 scholarship funding and application process is currently OPEN!!.

    Scholarship applications for the 2017 application period are due March 6, 2017 by 4:00 PM. 2017 TJSWCD Scholarship winners will be notified in May. Applications should be mailed or delivered as one packet (including official transcript, 3 letters of recommendation, and essays) to:

    Lauriston DaMitz
    Thomas Jefferson SWCD
    706 Forest Street, Suite G
    Charlottesville, VA 22903

    The Eddie Wood Scholarship

    Who was Eddie Wood?

    Eddie Wood received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in 1961, and Master’s degree in Resource Management from the University of Montana in 1973. Eddie spent more than thirty years working for the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Soil and Water Conservation. After becoming the Assistant State Conservationist in New Hampshire in 1973, he became the State Conservationist of Maine in 1978, and of Kentucky in 1980. He enjoyed international travel as a part of his job as well, advising the governments in Ecuador and Thailand on agricultural projects. After retiring to Albemarle County in 1983, Eddie became a private consultant for pond design, designing more than 50 ponds in Albemarle County alone. He also served on various community service boards such as the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District, Love I.N.C., and Summit Square. Eddie was also the primary designer of the Mountain Run Dam Project in Culpeper County.

    What is the purpose of this scholarship?

    Eddie's greatest peace and pleasure was found in the stewardship of the land, and passing that commitment along to others. Eddie was a true conservationist and the Eddie Wood Memorial Scholarship keeps his work alive. The Thomas Jefferson SWCD awards the Eddie Wood Memorial Scholarship on an annual basis to students from the counties of Albemarle, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Nelson, and the City of Charlottesville, who embody the conservation ideals of Eddie Wood and demonstrate a commitment to soil and water conservation. This scholarship is funded at $500 annually and applicants are automatically considered for this scholarship when applying for the TJSWCD scholarship.

    Community Outreach

    Rainbarrel Workshops

    Our staff will host a workshop for your community group, adult education classroom, neighborhood association, gardening club, or any other group of 4 or more! To schedule your workshop, contact Lauriston at 434-975-0224 ext. 107. Private group workshops can be held in our office or at a location of your choice. We recommend an outdoor space whenever weather permits, with an indoor back-up plan or a rain date scheduled in advance.

    How much does it cost?

    The TJSWCD sells Rain Barrel Kits with the necessary parts and instructions to construct at home for $85.00. Rain barrel workshop registrations are just $80.00 per person, and include all the materials needed to construct your 50 gallon rain barrel, 1-2 hours of hands-on instruction for your group with a member of our staff, and an afternoon of fun!

    More community events

    Keep up to date on our local events and meetings by checking out the Calendar and signing up for the Newsletter. All TJSWCD meetings are open for public attendance and input.