The Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District is dedicated to working with all communities in our district — from Valencia County and northern Socorro County to the Pueblos of Laguna and Isleta — to protect and enhance natural resources for everyone’s benefit.
We provide education, communication, partnerships and opportunities for local engagement. Ultimately, this work strengthens the relationship between our communities and the natural resources upon which we all depend — healthy soils, clean water and thriving open spaces.
Our education program offers hands-on, outdoor science learning for all grade levels in local schools. We offer summer teacher workshops and grants to help our schools create and grow outdoor learning opportunities for students, and to give teachers the tools they need to integrate environmental education into daily learning.
We offer internships and citizen science opportunities for youth to work at the district’s Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area or our East Valencia Urban Gardens Program at the El Cerro Mission and Meadow Lake community centers.
We invite you to visit Whitfield, our 97-acre conservation area dedicated to the protection, creation and conservation of riparian habitats along the bosque. Whitfield is currently open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.
Trail maps and conservation ranger guidebooks are available for free (from funding provided by our district’s 1/4 mil levy). We hold our annual Earth Day Science Fiesta and offer year-round outdoor science learning at Whitfield.
We are pleased to announce that we will host a Farm to Table Camp this summer for local youth, who will learn about sustainable farming, biodiversity, healthy soils and nutritious food, and will visit local farms for hands-on learning.
We will continue offering a three-month Whitfield Master Naturalist course, in which experts teach about our local environment, from geology to plant phenology and the changing bosque. This is a great opportunity for adult community members to regrow their connections to nature and take on environmental projects that can last a lifetime. From 4-5 p.m., on March 3, we will offer an introductory presentation on becoming a Master Naturalist at Whitfield.
We also help improve your land! We work directly with our community members through our financial and technical assistance programs to reduce the financial burden of improving the lands of local farmers and gardeners, ranchers, and businesses.
We also provide on-site expertise for individuals interested in exploring and implementing conservation projects at their home properties. Applications for these programs re-open in July of this year. Stand-alone applications to fund conservation practices such as efficient flush toilets, Johnson-Su bioreactor composting, or high-tunnel hoop houses are accepted year-round, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
By funding conservation projects and training, our district has produced the highest number of Soil Health Champions in New Mexico. These champions are tied to a national network of individuals, who are driving a movement to improve America’s soils.
We invite conservation champions of all sorts to offer presentations or lead workshops to help us create bigger and better opportunities for all.
To learn more about soil and water conservation and about our district’s programs, or to offer your comments, we invite you to visit our website, valenciaswcd.org, or email questions to [email protected], or simply call our office at 505-864-8914 to visit.
In 2021, we asked groups of community members about how the district can be more effective in communicating with partners and the public into the future. Now, we want to hear from you.
We want to grow district programs to meet the needs of our community, and we need your help to do so. We are asking you to tell us what you know about us, how you’ve been involved or would like to be involved in our work, and how we can more effectively work in the future to connect the people of our district with our precious land and water resources.
Please take a moment to complete our new outreach survey to help us better serve you and your fellow community members, as we all work to be educated stewards of our natural resources.
The District’s Outreach Survey can be found on our website and through this link, arcg.is/Sjmm1. Thanks for sharing your important voice.
Andrew Hautzinger, guest columnist
Andrew Hautzinger has been the district director for the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District since 2020. Prior to that, he was a volunteer VSWCD board member for 12 years and spent many years volunteering at the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area.
Hautzinger has a bachelor of science in watershed sciences from Colorado State University. He worked for more than 27 years as a federal hydrologist working for agencies within the Department of Interior including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. National Park Service, and for the final 20 years of his career, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ National Wildlife Refuge System.