November 1, 2010: For many of us in the 48 continental United States, what we do in our own back yard can directly impact what happens in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 40 percent of the continental United States — and even a small portion of Canada — drains into the Mississippi river and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. We visit central Ohio where the Licking County Soil & Water Conservation District is helping its community restore and protect its natural lands, farmlands and waters while also helping countless communities downstream, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Learn about rain gardens and rain barrels and how all of us can work together to make our back yards more beautiful and our communities — and the Gulf of Mexico — more healthy and vibrant.
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This Week: Why Saving the Gulf of Mexico Starts in Ohio
Can an Ocean Doctor be happy in a landlocked state? The answer is a definite yes, especially when it’s a place like Newark, Ohio, a very special community that was kissed by the ancient glaciers, leaving it with prized farmland and fascinating terrain, and populated by warm and hardworking people.? I went to Ohio at the invitation of the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District to speak at their annual dinner, but that was after delivering three speeches the previous day to local schools. I visited with about 250 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th graders at Newton Elementary School, then with teacher Jeanna Giovannelli’s wonderful 6th grade class at Granville Intermediate School, and finally I visited with students at Ohio State University’s Newark campus. And environmental geology professor Dan Leavell got me outside for a wonderful geology hike where I learned about the rich history of this area — and of course, if you’re getting a history lesson from a geologist, it goes back a few billion years.
So what’s a salt water Ocean Doctor doing in a farming community near Columbus Ohio? As I’m so fond of saying at the end of every show, “wherever you live, the oceans connect us all,” and that goes for Ohio, too, not only through the climate and air we breathe, but the waters that run through Licking County, Ohio ultimately make their way to the mighty Mississippi and then to the Gulf of Mexico.
And Licking County is lucky to have a 66-year-old organization called the Licking County Soil & Water Conservation District, whose mission is to promote conservation of natural resources through local leadership, education and assistance. It’s government at its best, helping ensure the local community has clean water and healthy environment while exceling in its farming practices to grow food. I had wanted to interview Jim Kiracofe, the District’s Administrator, during my visit, but we were all so busy and moving so fast that there just wasn’t time. So as soon as I got home, I gave Jim a call.
For more information the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District
Tip of the Week
Want to learn more about how to install a rain barrel or build a rain garden? Here are some resources: