Each year the DeSoto Co. SWCD hosts several conservation education programs. These are typically face to face programs to teach children in the community about the importance of conserving our natural resources. In March, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US, that prohibited our Information & Education Specialist, Meleiah Tyus from educating in the schools and local community. Each year the District hosts a week long summer camp in June at Arkabutla Lake in Hernando, MS. Conservation Kids Camp focuses on teaching campers about our natural resources while incorporating STEM activities into each lesson. Tyus started this camp in 2014 and it has proven to be a success year after year. Since she had already finalized the agenda for the annual Conservation Kids Camp, but knew it would eventually end up having to be cancelled she started brainstorming about other ways to she could continue educating about conservation. She first shared educational activities on the District Facebook page followed by adding additional education resources to their website; however, she knew the District could do more!
She reached out to Bowdre Emerson, Chairman of the DeSoto Co. SWCD to discuss outreach efforts. Emerson suggested hosting zoom sessions and from there Tyus created “Conservation Chats”. These weekly zoom education sessions started the last week in May and are held each Wednesday morning at 10am. Local children hop on Zoom with Tyus to engage in a learning lesson followed by a craft to recap the session. So far topics covered include: insects and pollinators, snakes of Mississippi and snake safety, water conservation, recycling, wildlife rehabilitation, and aquatic insects. Tyus invited special guests into a few of the sessions. These guests that have partnered with Tyus to share their knowledge and expertise include: Lauren Wilson with the MS Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Suzanne Burch with MS Wildlife Rehabilitation, and Deb Veeder with the MS Wildlife Federation.
The District is thrilled to be able to offer these sessions this summer and appreciates all the support from the community. Conservation Chats has been a great way to continue educating the children in DeSoto County through this pandemic and the District plans to keep Conservation Chats going throughout the summer or as long as they are needed. For more information about Conservation Chats, please feel free to email Meleiah Tyus at email@example.com.