Richland County employee Chanda Cooper has been named South Carolina’s premier educator about the importance of conservation.
The recent recipient of the 2016 South Carolina Project Learning Tree Jerry L. Shrum Outstanding Educator of the Year award by the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Cooper shines in her field and in the classroom, where she spreads the message of protecting natural resources.
“Chanda does a terrific job creating a team environment with all the different partners we work with throughout the state and County,” said Conservation Director Quinton Epps. “Her zeal and passion for natural resources and education are infectious and reflected in her work.”
As the Education Program Coordinator for the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District, Cooper’s natural habitat is as much a classroom as it is a pasture. From teaching students about the necessity of caring for the environment to helping the agricultural community become more knowledgeable about water quality protection and soil health improvement, Cooper is well-versed in nearly every facet of conservation. She conducts more than 50 classroom presentations at Richland County schools each year and helps organize hands-on workshops for local farmers and gardeners.
With Cooper’s educational efforts and grant money offered through the Soil & Water Conservation District, several local schools now boast trees that were planted by students during Arbor Day celebrations as well as pollinator gardens, water habitats, fruit and vegetable gardens and greenhouses — all with the purpose of keeping the importance of conservation resonating within the minds of local youth.
“Project Learning Tree (PLT) is a wonderful environmental curriculum whose hands-on, minds-on principles infuse my teaching philosophy,” Cooper says. “I am honored to be recognized by the PLT program and grateful to the colleagues who make my work possible.”
Cooper’s achievements and initiatives have been spotlighted before: in 2013, she was named Outstanding Conservation District Employee by the South Carolina Association of Conservation Districts, and the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District was named the 2015 South Carolina Conservation District of the Year.
For more information about Richland County Conservation, click here.