We were in Shelby County yesterday visiting with Kim Joiner at the Shelby County Soil & Water education garden. This garden was made possible through the generous donation of soil through the Scott Company. Check out the sign for a list of all the partners that made this project awesome!

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YES! Technical schools are important for the future of this country, and for Alabama.

Look! We made the front page!
Please note this grant announcement is for 2016-2017 grants and not the 2018 grants. 🙂

We were featured on WCRL in Blount County today during their Radiothon! We were presented with an award and announced that BCEF was awarded another grant for 2018 to cover supplies for the Summer Learning program.
We'd like to thank local leadership like Dean Calvert and Cawaco board member Judge Green for helping identify worthwhile projects throughout the county. But mostly we need to thank legislators like David Standridge, Shedd and Shellnut for making sure Cawaco receives funding that goes back into our communities!
It's always a pleasure working in Blount County with these great folks!

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Cawaco has been a long time funder and supporter of this wonderful program, which has trained community leaders and citizens on how to envision and plan their towns and communities to make them better for everyone.

We were in Walker County today to announce the completion of several projects, including the City of Jasper Paw Park (fencing), WCCT Rat Rod bus (tools), Friends of Downtown Jasper streetscape (design), Hope House Church (kitchen equipment).
We are stoked that we have such strong community leadership and partners in Walker County!Senator Greg Reed and Representative Rowe are both very active in helping us locate worthwhile projects, as are our board members, Paul Kennedy and Keith Pike.
The 2018 grants will be announced soon so stay tuned!

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Local Alabama produce being served in local schools? Yes!

Tools for Trails Update! The trailer and the tools got a lot of use in 2017. We had 647 volunteers use the tools and the trailer was used 117 hours to clear 20,604 feet of trail. The volunteer contribution of this work has an estimated value of $109,782.96. We'd like to show our appreciation to Charles Yeager, who has a full time job managing Turkey Creek Nature Preserve but still finds the time to maintain the tools, keep an inventory and schedule use of the trailer for us. Thanks Charles!😉

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Cawaco was at Highland Lake this week, where we helped the police force get some updated equipment for their cruiser. Senator Shellnut and Rep. Standridge are instrumental in helping us reach out to the communities they serve in Blount County.

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We were in Townley this week, with Senator Greg Reed and Representative Tim Wadsworth, to announce the community storm shelter that will be built there. Cawaco, with the assistance of the legislators, helped identify this project, where a small grant to the Town of Townley helped them meet their match requirement for a large federal grant. The shelter, once it is built, will keep the community safe during natural disasters.

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Southern Pine Beetles Reach Epidemic Level in Montgomery County

Forestry professionals’ earlier predictions of a bad year for pine beetles is unfortunately coming to pass, especially for some counties in Alabama. Timber losses may be significant according to officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC).

“When trees are drought-stressed as many are from last fall, their weakened state makes them more prone to insects and diseases,” commented AFC Forest Health Coordinator Dana Stone. “This summer, we have seen a large number of trees dying across our state’s pine forests, and the culprit is southern pine beetle. In Montgomery County, AFC foresters have aerially detected over 100 beetle spots. When the number of beetle spots for a county exceeds one tenth of one percent of the pine-forested acres for that county, it qualifies as epidemic. Having fewer pine acres, Montgomery County has now reached that threshold.”

According to Stone, “The Alabama Forestry Commission conducts flights throughout the year for the purpose of detecting and marking beetle spots on a digital map. We then send notification letters to landowners advising them that they have an infestation, along with suggested control measures.” She continued, “Southern pine beetles are the primary killer of pines in Alabama, with unmanaged and overcrowded stands of southern pines most susceptible to attack. Epidemic populations of this bark beetle occur periodically in the state, destroying hundreds of acres of pines. If not controlled, these expanding populations can devastate entire stands, causing millions of dollars in damage.”

“We encourage forest landowners to monitor their property for signs of damage, then contact their local AFC office or registered forester for management recommendations before taking any action,” said State Forester Rick Oates. “The Alabama Forestry Commission will continue to conduct both aerial surveys and ground checks to assess beetle activity across the state.”

The Alabama Forestry Commission is the state agency charged with protecting and sustaining Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principals and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy. Additional information regarding southern pine beetle may be found at www.forestry.alabama.gov.

Igniting Behavior Change — A Tactical Approach to Fire Safety Communication

In the world of public fire safety education, we often meet people who need to change risky behaviors—or adopt safe behaviors—but are ambivalent about doing so. Numerous studies have shown that simply conveying facts often is not enough to promote action and change. This webinar will cover motivational interviewing (MI) as a tactical approach to more effective fire safety communication.
You are invited to join the fifth webinar in U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) Fire is Everyone’s Fight™ Webinar Series. In this webinar, we will provide participants an opportunity to learn more about what MI is and how it differs from other styles of communication. Participants will observe MI as style of communication for engaging individuals and groups of community members to promote public safety.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
2:00 – 3:00 pm EDT
Attendance is limited so register today!

We got to visit with our favorite teachers today! Anthony Myrick and Michael Craig with Walker County Center of Technology. It's always nice to spend time with teachers who go the extra mile to make sure their students get the best educational experiences they can. The students told me they really didn't enjoy being back in school but they do enjoy shop class. 🙂

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Summer Newsletter!

Within the past year National Audubon has launched a database that links people to specific information plants for birds at the zip code level (http://www.audubon.org/plantsforbirds).

A sampling of some of the community gardens we support through the seed and soil programs. Looking good! 👍🏽

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We helped Chilton County parks and rec get new security cameras and monitoring system for Higgins Ferry and Minooka Park. The system can be monitored by desktop or on the Park managers smart phone. Cameras are motion activated and the park managers can pick any date and time during any month and check activity. This is one of those projects that is useful all year, keeps the public safer, will be useful in years to come, and meets one of our priority focus areas of parks and recreation. 🙂

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March2Stestsucess provides an online study program to help students prepare for standardized tests, improve school work and review materials. They also provide tools for educators and parents to track and encourage their students.

APT offers adult education classes and other educational resources. Check it out!

ATTENTION EDUCATORS AND S.T.E.M. TEACHERS! National Science Foundation grant opportunity.

Synopsis of Program:
The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidencebased
understanding of the design and development of STEM learning opportunities for the public in informal
environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences;
advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and engage the public
of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.
The AISL program supports six types of projects: (1) Pilots and Feasibility Studies, (2) Research in Service to
Practice, (3) Innovations in Development, (4) Broad Implementation, (5) Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or MetaAnalyses,
and (6) Conference

Check out this aluminum water bottle that is part of the City of Montevallo's "hydration station"! The purpose? To reduce the use of plastic water bottles by having a centrally located "hydration station" (filtered water source) for Montevallo residents to refill their water bottles- and to educate the public about conserving resources and reducing waste. Way to go Montevallo! Our logo looks great on this bottle. 🙂

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We are so proud of out Teacher of the Year Michael Craig, Anthony Myrick and the students for all the cool stuff they're doing. Cawaco is proud to support this amazing project! 👍🏽

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Thorsby High School library got a small grant from us to purchase e-readers and books. Money spent on educational projects and materials is money well spent.

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Look at these brave folks at Holly Springs Volunteer Fire Department in the new turnout gear they purchased with a grant from Cawaco! We need to keep the first responders safe! THANK YOU for everything you do for the people in rural Blount County!

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Planning meeting with Roy Clem, executive director of Alabama Public Television, Caroline Martin, American Graduate project manager, Phil Hutchenson, CFO, and David Walters, State Director of Adult Education.
We are partnering with APT to educate citizens in our area about APT adult education classes and accelerated learning/Career pathways trainings that are offered statewide at a very low cost to participants.

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Just so everyone knows- CAWACO is pronounced Cuh-wah-CO.

We were incorporated in 1979 to address local problems and bring partners together to create innovative solutions, focusing on community and environmental issues.

Cawaco gets its name from the first letters of the three main river systems in the service area-(CAhaba-WArrior- COosa)

There are 9 RC&D councils in Alabama-named for the river systems they service.
We serve people and the land!

Our grant cycle is currently open!

Jasper is highlighted on Main Street Alabama! Just another example of small town vision becoming reality! Many of these visionary changes were made after City and County leadership attended a "YourTown Alabama" workshop. 🙂

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Jasper is highlighted on Main Street Alabama! Just another example of small town vision becoming reality! Many of these visionary changes were made after City and County leadership attended a "YourTown Alabama" workshop. 🙂

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Urban gardening tip!

We are really excited that we were able to help scholarship kids to participate in educational outdoor events at Red Mountain Park! They look like they're having fun!

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Hey we made the news and nobody told us! Cawaco provided the City of Jemison a grant to update their city ball fields.

We had a great meeting yesterday with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. We are building partnerships to help landowners and identify and rectify environmental problems that impact T&E species in Alabama.

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Our grant cycle is now open! If you are a non-profit in Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby or Walker Counties, you are eligible to apply.

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We had a great turnout yesterday for the second urban forestry tree canopy mapping training! The next training is scheduled for June 13 at Ruffner! Your $10 registration fee goes towards lunch. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/itree-train-the-trainer-workshop-tickets-33662024020

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Helen Keller Foundation Conducts Character Training Across Alabama

130 years after the famous “Miracle at the Pump” scene between Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan in Tuscumbia, Alabama, there is still a story to tell. Perhaps no one tells it better than Helen Keller’s great grandniece, Keller Johnson-Thompson. For over 25 years, Johnson-Thompson has dedicated her life by spreading the hope that her aunt’s inspiration continues to live every day through the Helen Keller Foundation’s Character Education Programs. “As religion has all but left our public schools, and as students have to face so many obstacles in their day-to-day lives, giving them examples of people that have overcome so much is so important to these kids, as well as their attitudes about themselves,” says Johnson-Thompson.

Through the Helen Keller Character Education Program, Ms. Thompson delivers over 150 presentations per year throughout the state of Alabama free of charge to Alabama’s schools through personal appearances and virtual field trips from the University of Alabama. In addition, she also focuses on other admirable Alabamians including Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Vonetta Flowers, Kathryn Tucker Windham, George Washington Carver, W. C. Handy, and much more.

To schedule a presentation at your school for the upcoming year, or to participate in a Virtual Field Trip, please contact Ms. Thompson at kellerj@helenkellerfoundation.org

Cawaco was able to help the Blount County EMA update their emergency siren system throughout the county. We would like to thank Senator Shellnut, Representative David Standridge, Representative Randall Shedd and Cawaco board members Judge Greene and Doug Smith for identifying local needs. This is what good leadership looks like!

Our second training on urban tree mapping! Sign up now! Learn how to measure tree species, age, height and diameter; assess the tree canopy; and assess tree health by measuring die back and missing limbs/branches. All info will be used to replant the urban forest!

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Accepting Applications for USDA Organic Cost Share Programs

Montgomery, AL – Growers and handlers of organic agricultural products now can recover part of the cost of their USDA certification. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) will be allocated funds from the USDA to reimburse producers and handlers who either obtain or renew their organic certification in the fiscal year that ends September 30, 2017. The reimbursement covers 75% of certification costs, up to a maximum of $750.

The Organic Certification Cost Share Programs (OCCSP) reimburse eligible organic crop and livestock producers for a portion of their organic certification costs. The OCCSP consists of the following two programs authorized by separate pieces of legislation: the National (NOCCSP) Organic Certification Cost Share Program authorized by the Agriculture Act of 2014, commonly known as the Farm Bill, and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Organic Certification Cost Share Program authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act of 2001.

“Organic producers are encouraged to participate and we hope that the program will help them recoup some of the expenses associated with becoming a USDA certified organic operation,” said John McMillan, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

The ADAI will administer this non-competitive grant program by processing applications for cost share funds, and USDA will reimburse them. USDA distributes funds on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Organic operators typically submit a one-page application form, a W-9 Tax Form, proof of certification, an itemized invoice of certification expenses, and proof of E-Verify to ADAI. The ADAI reviews the application and then may reimburse the operator for 75% of the cost of certification, up to a maximum of $750 per category of certification per year.

All farmers, ranchers, and handlers who have received organic certification or a renewal of certification from an accredited certifying agent between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017 are eligible to participate. Farms transitioning to organic production are not eligible. Most certification-related costs are eligible for reimbursement. Organic producers and handlers may be reimbursed for expenses paid for first-time organic certifications, as well as renewals of certification.

Eligible costs include the following: application fees, inspection costs, travel or per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments, and postage. Ineligible costs include the following: equipment, materials, supplies, late fees, and inspections for transitional certifications or due to violations of NOP regulations. The OCCSP reduces the cost of organic certification in accordance with the Agricultural Marketing Service’s aim to strengthen market support for U.S. agriculture.

Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2017. Application forms and additional details can be obtained by calling Johnny Blackmon with the ADAI at 334/240-7257 or by email at Johnny.Blackmon@agi.alabama.gov. If you are seeking organic certification, you can find information on the process for certification at www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/occsp.

Wow look at what the Shelby County Soil & Water Conservation District did at their office! Raised garden beds using volunteers and the donated Scott's soil! Great job!

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We were in Vestavia today and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony at Meadowlawn Park. The park is located in a flood plain, in an area that was once house sites that were prone to flooding. Cawaco provided the grant to design the park, which includes bioswales, pervious paving, a reconstructed stream and a wetland. All this will beautify the area, get people outside,decrease flooding and help clean storm water prior to entering the creek. Great project! See more tonight on Fox6 and 33/40.

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Congratulations to the graduating class of the Blount County 9-1-1 EMT Academy! Blount County residents are blessed to have dedicated first responders as well as legislators devoted to their welfare! Cawaco granted Blount County 9-1-1 a grant to train these EMT's. We would like to thank Representative David Standridge ,Senator Shay Shelnut and Cawaco Board member Doug Smith for identifying worthwhile community projects that fit within our mission.

We were at East Lake Park today, training with Jason Gordon of Mississippi State University and Arnold Brodbeck with Auburn University. Today we learned how to create a tree inventory and measure height, diameter, crown mass, etc. this data will become a tree inventory map for Birmingham so city leaders can develop a plan to replace damaged/sick trees.
The training included representatives from the City of Birmingham public
Works department, the Nature Conservancy, Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, and Cawaco!
We will be expanding the inventory area and we need dedicated volunteers!

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REGISTER NOW to help create a tree canopy map for Birmingham!
The Nature Conservancy will conduct a pilot study for tree inventory this summer. The first year's work will begin on a small scale using the USFS I-Tree Suite to quantify forest structure, environmental effects, and value to communities in 3 city parks in the upper reaches of Village Creek – East Lake Park, John Hawkins Park and Wahouma Park.
Become a tree inventory team leader on this study of Birmingham trees! (First training limited to 10 adults)

Cawaco RC&D provides assistance to the Alabama Rivers and Streams Network by hosting a conference for federal and state agencies, corporations and nonprofits to share information about threatened and endangered species.

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Michael Craig and Anthony Myrick are definitely valuable resources for Walker County! We're pulling for the gear heads competing in the Rat Rod Challenge. 😎🏎🚌

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Limited space for gardening? Here are some creative ideas!