Grounded in Conservation

Student Activity based on “Grounded in Conservation“, from the May/June 2013 Our Ohio magazine.


Ohio English Language Arts Common Core State Standards
(Grade 4: Reading Standards for Informational Text) In this education expander, students will “refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.  They will determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.”  Finally, students will practice “explaining events, procedures, ideas or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why based on information in the text.”

(Explanation and key terms are from the Ohio Department of Education, 2011)

Grounded in conservation
•    Ask students to read the article titled “Grounded in Conservation” found in Our Ohio Magazine or online.
•    As students read, encourage them to take note of the main idea and supporting ideas in the text.

Main Idea:  Explicit

  1. What is the main idea of this informational article?
  2. Is the information presented meant to inform, entertain or persuade?  Explain.
  3. Give the two reasons that the farmer states that he gives back to society.
  4. Provide the definition of the acronym SWCD.  What does this organization do for people who live in Ohio?
  5. List three ways that the SWCD helps homeowners conserve the environment.
  6. How many volunteers help the paid employees of the SWCD?
  7. What does Mr. Shininger do on his own farm to “put his beliefs into practice?”
  8. What is the final statement Mr. Shininger provides about taking care of the environment?


  1. Can you explain what the farmer means by stating that he is “serving his debt to society?”
  2. Do you believe if Mr. Shininger sees more wildlife on his farm then his farm is healthier or in a good environmental state?  Explain.
  3. Explain the joke, “I am from the government and I am here to help you.”  Can you infer that many people used to mistrust government employees?  Why or why not?
  4. Explain why homeowners may be more willing to speak with volunteers about conserving the environment than government officials.
  5. Do you believe it is important to protect resources (soil, water, air) now, even though one does not get paid money to do so?  Explain.


  1. Define the word debt.  
  2. When a farmer in central Ohio says that he “grows grain,” what type of grain does he grow?
  3. Explain what run-off water is and why it can cause problems?
  4. What is erosion? Where does one find erosion? What can be done about it?
  5. The farmer in this article states that one of his conservation actions is to “reduce how much he tills the land.” What does he mean and how does this prevent erosion?

Explore with technology

  1. Explore the Education Page of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation District
  2. Answer the following questions from this site:
  • How many soil and water conservation districts are in Ohio. (Hint: There is one district per county.)
  • Name one workshop opportunity coming up this year.
  • On the left hand side of the page, click on the “Ohio project WET” tab.
  • Read about project WET by clicking on the “Introduction to Project WET Activity Guide” link.
  • Is project WET something that you think students in your school or in your community would benefit from participating in?  How can you get more information?


  1. Using a map of Ohio , or your own map:
  • Locate Fulton County, where Mr. Shininger lives.
  • Locate your county.  Where is your county SWCD office located?

This student activity was prepared by Camille Kopczewski, who is coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City. She is a former sixth grade social studies teacher for South-Western City Schools. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.