Coronavirus updates are available on the Emergency Event Information Page.

Education Programs

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District offers a variety of FREE education programs to all citizens of Fauquier County.


Classroom Programs


The following programs are presented in the classroom by the John Marshall SWCD Education Specialist.  These programs are well-suited for public and private schools, as well as homeschool students.  However, they can be adapted for other groups too.  Programs are provided for all grade levels.  Programs can also be adapted for different grade levels.


Soil Tubes3rd Grade

Soil Tubes (30 minutes) – VA SOL 3.1, 3.7, 3.10

Each student will make and take home a Soil Tube showing the soil profile (bedrock, subsoil, and topsoil).  Students will learn about the soil profile, the importance of soil, and how soil is formed.  This program can be easily paired with the Soil Tunnel.


The Incredible Journey (30 minutes) – VA SOL 3.1, 3.9, 3.10

Students will take a journey as a raindrop and move throughout the water cycle.  As they move, they will make bead bracelets representing their movements throughout the water cycle.


Soil Tunnel – VA SOL 3.1, 3.7

The District has a Soil Tunnel which students can crawl through and experience what life would be like under the soil.  This display works well with the Soil Tubes program and can be set up at the same time.


4th Grade

Your Watershed Address (30 minutes) – VA SOL 4.1, 4.5, 4.9

The Augmented Reality Sandbox projects real-time sand elevations onto the sand in the box.  Students can also create virtual rain events and follow the water's path through watersheds that they create.  Students learn about their local watershed address, Virginia’s watershed resources, human impacts on ecosystems, and the idea that we all live downstream.  This program can also use the Enviroscape table top model.


Leaf Pack5th Grade

Leaf Pack Project (2, 50-minute sessions) – VA SOL 5.1, 5.5

The Leaf Pack Project involves putting leaves into mesh bags and placing these bags in streams for a few weeks.  During this time, macroinvertebrates will inhabit the bags.  The bags will then be brought back to the classroom where the students will identify and sort the macroinvertebrates.  This program works well for classes who are not able to physically visit a stream.  The Leaf Pack Project also works well with after-school Ecology or Environmental Clubs.


6th Grade

Where Does Your Water Shed? (50 minutes) – VA SOL 6.1, 6.5, 6.7, 6.9

Students will use the Enviroscape table top model to learn about the Virginia’s watersheds, the health of ecosystems, and the importance of protecting our water resources.  The Enviroscape model allows students to create a storm event to see the effects on a landscape.


Biology, Ecology, and AP Environmental Science

Water Quality Monitoring (90 minutes)

Biology and Ecology students from Fauquier and Kettle Run High Schools have been involved in stream monitoring for several years.  Students collect macroinvertebrate samples and conduct water quality tests on a monthly basis to determine stream health.


The John Marshall SWCD offers assistance to teachers in planning natural resource projects and activities.  Additional opportunities are frequently listed in the monthly teacher newsletter.  Contact us to be placed on our newsletter list.


Conservation Capsules

Some programs are offered as a self-contained conservation capsule.  The capsules come with a lesson plan and resources to conduct a lesson on the topic. Conservation Capsules may be borrowed for up to one week and can either be delivered to your school or you can make arrangements to pick it up.

You may check out any of the capsules regardless of grade level designations. Please keep in mind when requesting a capsule that our capsule program is on a first come first serve basis.  We will try our best to meet your needs.  Our Conservation Capsules are like a library system. We ask that you please return all capsules you use in the condition in which they were received.

To reserve a capsule, please send an email to Michael Trop at with the following information:

  • Name of Capsule
  • Dates (please provide 3 dates in different weeks; many times other teachers will be requesting the same capsule for the same week. We will try our best to select your first date.)
  • Name of School
  • Name of Teacher
  • E-mail address and/or phone number for teacher
  • Grade(s)
  • Estimate numbers of teachers, classes, and students that will be using the capsule.

The District currently has two Conservation Capsules available for check out:

Food Webs: 3rd & 4th Grades (SOL: Science 3.5, 4.5)
Students explore the terms food chains and webs through interactive games explaining the relationships between animals and plants in food chains.

Regions of Virginia: 4th Grade (SOL: VS.2)
Students will learn the different regions of Virginia displayed on a large canvas map. The students will label the map and determine the agricultural products and major industries of each region.


Other Materials & Programs


The District has numerous reference materials and other supplies available for teachers to use.  Teachers are welcome to visit the John Marshall SWCD Office to obtain materials.  Items can also be sent to and from public schools by the courier.


Non-classroom programs


John Marshall SWCD also offers programs for a variety of non-school groups.  Often, classroom programs are used or modified for non-classroom presentations to suit the group’s specific needs.  New programs may also be developed to suit a specific need.

Some groups where District programs would be relevant include:

Boy Scouts (Merit Badges)

Girl Scouts (Patches)

Master Naturalists

Civic Clubs



Programs are certainly not limited to those groups listed above.  John Marshall SWCD will do programs for any group that is interested.  If you would like us to do a program for your group or would like additional information or assistance with natural resource studies, please contact us.

The District also sets up displays and the Soil Tunnel at various public events around the county including festivals, expos, and the Fauquier County Fair.


Special Activities


The John Marshall SWCD has been conducting several activities on an annual basis for many years.  These include Conservation Field Days and the Envirothon Program:

Conservation Field DaysConservation Field Day

These are conducted for students at local farms in spring and fall.  Students rotate through stations to learn a variety of agriculture and natural resource topics from experts in the field.

Field days are popular with elementary and middle school students.  Most elementary schools in the county participate in the annual Third Grade Farm Tour.  These days have also been conducted to accommodate students from private schools and home school programs.



Envirothon is a natural resources competition among high school students.  Five students compete on a team and test their knowledge in aquatics, soils, wildlife, forestry, and a special topic.  The District is always looking for students to be a part of a team.  Learn more about the Envirothon Program at the John Marshall SWCD.


The program lists here are guidelines.  If you have a specific topic that you would like the District to cover, a program can be tailored to your needs.  For all education programs, contact Michael Trop, Conservation Education Specialist, by phone at 540-316-6639 or email