With Mark Proctor, left, and Betty Jo Tompkins, back, are the Hillsborough 100 award recipients, from left to right: Karen Crumley, Outstanding Volunteer; Will Moriaty of TREE, Inc., Outstanding Project; Andrea and Daniel McClellan of M&B Products, Outstanding Supporter; and Nikki Foster of Mosaic, outstanding cooperating partner.

By Linda Chion Kenney

The Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge is back for a fourth year with an open invitation to schools, community groups and individuals to step up and showcase their efforts to conserve natural resources.

Launched by the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD) in 2017, the challenge underscores “the need to make conservation everybody’s business, with a focus on land, water and air projects in rural, suburban, urban and inner-city communities,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, HSWCD executive director. Projects run the gamut from road and water cleanups to planting and recycling efforts.

“The original idea was to get 100 projects, and every year we seem to get more,” said Mark Proctor, who chairs the board of five HSWCD supervisors, an unpaid elected position. “We started with a one-week timeline and now it’s pretty much year-round, with some projects taking on a life of their own.”

The 2020 Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge showcase period is scheduled for April 18, 2020 through May 3, 2020, encompassing Earth Day, Arbor Day and Soil Stewardship Week. The kickoff luncheon, held on November 14 at The Regent in Riverview, featured 2019 challenge awards as well.

Award recipients included: Karen Crumley, Outstanding Volunteer of the Year, for her work with the Plant City Lions Club and school-based Leo clubs; M&B Products, a family-owned dairy farm and processing company, for Outstanding Supporter of the Year; and TREE, Inc., for Outstanding Project of the Year, which involved a watershed reclamation project at the Plant City Commons Community Garden, on the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College.

The Mosaic Company, the luncheon sponsor, received the 2019 Cooperating Partner of the Year award, which in 2017 went to Lipman Family Farms.

“We’re real excited about it,” said Carol Ann Driskell, an ESE teacher at Brandon High. “The students want to learn more about plants and what it takes to grow them and eating healthier.”

For more, call the HSWCD at 752-1474, Ext 3. Call Betty Jo Tompkins at 477-8332 or email bjt6890@yahoo.com.