Education/Outreach Activities

The Benton SWCD began in 1948 to protect and enhance Benton County's soil, water, and other natural resources; to nurture a conservation ethic by educating county residents on conservation and environmental issues.


Yearly education activities and contests include:

Conservation Contests

Environmental Education Days

Outstanding Conservation Cooperators (OCC)

Tour of Practices


Additional activities our office participates in:



The Envirothon is an outdoor environmental learning event for both Junior High (grades 6-8) and High School (grades 9-12) students. It is one of Minnesota's largest environmental education competitions. Teams consisting of five students from the same school/organization visit five different learning stations covering Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and a current environmental topic that changes every year. High School students are given a 25-point exam and Junior High students are given a 20-point exam relating to the station’s topics. High School students are also required to give a brief (8-9 minute) pre-determined oral presentation to a panel of judges, also based on the current environmental topic for the year.


Natural resource professionals from across the state are presenters at each of the stations. They use the outdoor setting, as well as their own props, to add to the experience. In Minnesota, teams participate in various regional Envirothon’s, which are organized by SWCD personnel. The top 3 teams from each of these regional events advance to the Minnesota State Envirothon, where students compete for the chance to represent Minnesota at the Canon Envirothon.


2014 Area Envirothon 32 2014 Area Envirothon 2014 30





 Take a Day OFF

2011 DNR-PWELCTake a Day OFF 200021952011In order to heighten public awareness of the Mississippi River, the Minnesota River Renaissance (MRR) has partnered with Benton and Stearns SWCDs, Stearns County Parks, Benton County, St. Cloud State University, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to host the annual "Take a Day OFF (Outdoor Family Fun) on the Mississippi River." This annual event has proven to be very successful with an estimated 1,300 participants in its fourth year.2011 Take A Day Off 001


The event offers participants hands-on instruction in a variety of outdoor activities, education on land use impacts to our natural resources, and an increased awareness of the Mississippi River within central Minnesota. Kids learn to cast and fish from shore, learn to paddle a canoe and travel down the Mississippi, experience a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS units, ride a pontoon and watch DNR demonstrate fish survey (electrofishing) techniques, test your aim at the laser shooting range, try your hand at archery, see wild animals up close, build a birdhouse and take it home, find out about the water in our world, see an old time fur trader, play ‘disc golf'...and more!


Boy Scouts

Each spring, District Technician Nathan Sanoski assists the local Boy Scout Chapter by teaching the Fish & Wildlife Management Badge at the Boy Scout Merit Badge Clinic held in Foley, Minnesota. There are a total of 32 boy scouts that participate in receiving the Fish & Wildlife Management Merit Badge.


The boy scouts were required to build a bird feeder and record the kinds of birds that visited the feeder in the winter before the clinic, and discuss their observations later on in class.


Boy Scouts 2013aThe scouts examining the anatomy of a Perch Boy Scouts 2013bThe wildlife observation hike


During the clinic the boy scouts participated in examining some Perch to locate the external and internal anatomy of the fish, and they also used a magnifying glass to determine the age of the Perch. The scouts also participated in a wildlife observation hike where they would write down what species of birds, mammals, plants, reptiles, and insects they observed during the hike.