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Soil and Water Conservation District

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The Swain Soil & Water Conservation District’s mission is to provide for a quality environment and a higher standard of living while protecting our natural resources.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts were formed across the country as a method of addressing soil erosion on cropland during the Dust Bowl Era of the 1930’s. Swain County is one of 96 Soil and Water Conservation Districts in North Carolina. The country’s very first Soil and Water Conservation District, the Brown Creek SWCD in Anson County, was formed in North Carolina in 1937. In 1957 the Tuckaseigee Soil and Water Conservation District was formed in Swain County. However, in 1982 the Tuckaseigee Soil and Water Conservation District transformed into the Swain SWCD.

Soil and Water Districts encourage the sound use and management of our natural resources: soil, water, air, plants and animals. The Swain Soil and Water Conservation District’s objectives are secured largely through voluntary cooperation of landowners. This cooperation enables the District to offer technical assistance and resources to landowners and operators by planning, executing, and promoting sound conservation practices offered through the North Carolina Agriculture Cost Share Program and other grant opportunities to assist landowners with conservation practices and their land.

The District works closely with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA, NRCS) and the Division of the Soil and Water Conservation Department, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NC DA&CS).

While the Soil and Water Conservation Districts main role is reducing soil erosion, we give great priority to educational activities promoting natural resource conservation. The District provides education services for schools, civic groups and many other organizations.


Soil and Water Conservation Office
100 Brendle Street
Bryson City, NC 28713

Creeden Kowal, Director
Phone: 828-488-2684, ext. 3106

Shelby Cook, Education Coordinator
Phone: 828-488-2684, ext. 3099

Office Hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday

Office Staff:

Shelby Cook, Education Coordinator  –

Creeden Kowal, District Director  –


Katie Gibbs, Soil Conservationist  –

Dave Komorowski, Supervisory Soil

Social Platforms:

Fair Facebook Page

Swain County Extension’s Fair page: 

Mailing List & Newsletter:

Please take a minute to join our email list:

We offer free soil test kits, maps, and technical assistance. Call us to learn the benefits of soil testing or visit NCAGR for more information. 

Technical advice and conservation planning is available free to landowners in Swain County. We can also help address resource concerns by installation of best management practices (BMPs). If qualified, there is also financial assistance available through the following three cost share programs. These programs are administered by the NC Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Services: Division of Soil and Water Conservation. The contracting is conducted at the county level, but the Division gives final approval and processes requests for payment to cooperators participating in the program. Call our office or visit the links below to learn more about each program.


The District’s community education program was established to encourage stewardship and improve environmental literacy. Each year the Swain Soil and Water Conservation District sponsored a series of outreach programs intended to enhance public knowledge of natural resources despite age, social values, or political affiliation.   

Most often programs are based on the significance of soil and water resources however many themes and topics are available including sound land practices and food, plant, wildlife, and air resources. All lessons are intended to be experience-based and interdisciplinary as a means to foster the attitudes and build the skills and motivation responsible action requires.

A majority of the District’s programs correlate with the objectives outlined by the North Carolina Essential Standards for Science, Social Studies, and Health Education as well as the National Science Education Content Standards. Many of the programs were developed by or otherwise adapted from curricula outlined in Project Learning Tree, Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), Project Food, Land, and People and others.

Soil & Water - Swain County NC Available Lessons & District Sponsored Events
Swain SWCD education programs are year-round and constantly developing. Annually, we offer education contests for grades 3-9, Envirothon sponsorship and training, Fifth Grade Conservation Field Days, FFA Land Judging Career Development Event, Soil & Water Conservation Merit Badge, as well as various classroom activities. Please contact Shelby for additional information or special requests.

Soil & Water - Swain County NCVisual Aids and Outdoor Learning
Swain SWCD has grant-funded education tools that make learning about soil and water conservation fun! The Em-River Stream Table and Mobile Soil Exhibit are great for grades 4-12, and are available for school lessons and events.

Soil & Water - Swain County NCScholarship and Workshop Opportunities
There are several Soil & Water Conservation scholarships available each year, including the Swain SWCD Scholarship, Area 1 SWCD Scholarship, Careers in Conservation Scholarship, and NC Conservation District Employees Association Scholarship. Swain SWCD also sponsors two outstanding Swain County students each summer to attend the Resource Conservation Workshop at NC State. Contact Shelby for access to applications.

Click here for Scholarship Application

Participating farms can be found by going to Swain GIS and selecting the Voluntary Agricultural District option under map layers.

Currently, there are 10 landowners in Swain County Participating in the Enhanced/Voluntary Agricultural District program totaling almost 672 acres enrolled in Farmland Preservation.

Brochure – Farmland Preservation Brochure


Board of Supervisors

The Swain Soil and Water Conservation District are governed by a five-member board of supervisors. The board consists of two members appointed by the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission and three members who are elected by the citizens of Swain County, to a four-year staggered term on a non-partisan basis.

Board meetings are open to the public and are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 4:00 PM in the conference room of the Bryson City USDA Service Center unless otherwise advertised. For upcoming meeting information, please call the office.

Board Members:

Mitchell Jenkins, Chairman
PO Box 593,
Bryson City, NC 28713

McKinley Jenkins, Vice Chairman
226 East Jenkins Branch Rd.
Bryson City, NC 28413

Patrick Breedlove, Member
900 Panther Branch Rd.
Bryson City, NC 28713

Philip Carson, Sr., Secretary/Treasurer
PO Box 1878
Bryson City, NC 28713

Billy Dills, Member
1700 Wesser Creek Rd.
Bryson City, NC 28713

William Shuler, Associate Member
1165 West Deep Creek.
Bryson City, NC 28713

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