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NC State Extension

Presentation Guidelines: Soil, Water & the Environment


  1. To become aware of environmental problems which involve our inappropriate uses of soil and/or water resources; to recognize the importance of these resources to individuals and society today.
  2. To learn about ways to prevent or correct these environmental problems.
  3. To become aware of persons, agencies and sources of information about these subjects and to practice gathering information from these sources.
  4. To learn skills required in preparing for and giving a good public presentation, and to gain experience and competence by applying those skills.

Individuals or teams may compete. Age categories are:

  • 9-10 – 4-H’er must be 9 years old prior to January 1 of the current year and not have reached their eleventh burthday before January 1 of the current year.
  • 11-13 – 4-H’er must be eleven years old prior to January 1 of the current year and not have reached their fourteenth birthday before January 1 of the current year.
  • 14-18 – 4-H’er must be fourteen years of age prior to January 1 of the current year, and not have reached their nineteenth birthday before January 1 of the current year.

Getting started:

    • Try to begin early by thinking, asking and reading about environmental problems dealing with soil and/or water resources. And, try to keep in mind that learning — both about the subject and about yourself and your own abilities–should be considered the first reason for preparing a 4-H presentation.
    Regardless of whether you’re starting early with plenty of time to think it over, or if it’s “crunch time” for a decision, remember that the task and the learning will be more fun if it’s something that interests you! Perhaps you’ve found a certain lesson or school project interesting, or maybe a TV program or a problem in your family or community has gotten your interest. Would this topic make a good fit for an Environmental Quality presentation?

Choosing a Topic:

    • There is a wide range of topics that make good candidates for an EQ presentation, assuming you are interested in doing it! Please keep in mind that your presentation should involve something about our natural resources of soil or land, and/or water. Air, rocks and wildlife are natural resources too, but there are other 4-H categories for those topics.
    • Soil and water ideas are all around us. Remember that in nature the land needs plants to protect it, and of course, plants need the land to anchor and nourish them. Is there something about your own lawn or garden or around your school grounds that interests you– or maybe it bothers you? For example, muddy spots in your walking path, eroding places around your home or along the roads you travel, these are places where plants are not growing well and are indications of areas where the soil needs some attention, too. On a larger scale, are there practices in your community such as recycling, or trash pickup, or respect and enjoyment of a beautiful lake, stream or river — things in which you would like other people to be more cooperative and to better understand? Then giving a presentation about topics of interest to you will seem logical, and it would be almost like fun, right? Good presentations describe a concern, problem or idea, then explain and suggest actions which could be helpful and interesting with regard to it.
    • There are many kinds of conservation practices to help protect soil and water resources around our homes, gardens, farms, sites for new buildings and along our streets and highways. Some of these involve methods to correct problems, like being sure that the soil is kept covered by living plants or a good leaf or bark mulch. Also, many conservation practices involve planning ahead of time to prevent problems. For example, many kinds of soil situations simply are not good choices for building a home, or locating a septic tank for a home or business. Doing so will be costly and may risk polluting the ground water or causing a health menace. In many areas there is very little land suitable for sanitary landfills, which means that the rapid fill-up of the existing landfills is a severe long-range community problem. And everywhere it is costly and difficult to purchase land for new community landfills for solid wastes. So recycling to reduce waste is especially critical! Understanding more about soil properties helps in planning to avoid problems. Soil “surveys” are available for nearly all counties, and these give information about which areas are suitable for many uses, ranging from agriculture to roads and community needs.
    • There are even larger-scale, soil and water issues affecting counties and communities. Here are some examples: reservoirs built for water supply, flood control and recreation, which may be threatened by poorly-planned construction projects; major problems of protecting the water supply and quality in our estuaries and Coastal areas; understanding and protecting our Outer Banks; the need for protection of natural areas and associated wildlife in our forests, parks, “open spaces.”
    Keep in mind that you can build your presentation around whatever part of these topics fits your age and interest. A BIG topic like protecting a whole watershed, such as the Neuse river basin, can be built around a very small and simple idea such as understanding and correcting an eroding area around your own home or an eroding trail area in your own school yard. Just connect the importance of your small project (that special idea which interests you) to the general needs of the much larger area and all of the people and problems that may occur there!

Examples of Presentation Topics:

Title Subject
Is Your Dirt Showing? Erosion control on construction sites
Save Soil, Dollars and Time Conservation tillage for erosion control
The BMP’s of Farming Farming methods to prevent water pollution
Windbreaks for Conservation Wind Erosion – bad for farms and people
Land and Water Use – Not Abuse Soils for animal waste lagoons
Recycle What? Recycling dairy wastes
Let Death Bring Life to Soil Composting of home gardens
As the Worm Turns Vermicomposting of household wastes
Soils for Homesites Problem soils and septic tanks
The Garbage Pizza Understanding solid wastes and recycling
Give a Hoot – Don’t Pollute Soils and sanitary landfills
Dam It Water resource needs
Better than Arks Watershed and reservoir protection
Don’t Fool With Mother Nature Control of beach erosion – Outer Banks
Land Use Planning Planning for urban land use – county level
What Is An Estuary? Description and importance for Coastal NC
    To indicate the range of ideas for great Environmental Quality presentations, here is a summary of some of the winning titles and topics of recent years. Just because a topic has been used by someone else does not make it either a good choice or bad choice for you. That depends on your special interest and how you choose to put it together! And there also are many others which could fit a young person’s interest or situation. Please note that these subjects range from farm to city and from specific problems to large-scale concepts like community planning.

Resources: You can make good use of the experiences, ideas and examples of others, including both verbal and written information. After selecting a favorite topic, share the ideas and seek information to construct your posters and choose your words. In every county there are lots of sources of information. These include parents, volunteer leaders, your Cooperative Extension Office, the office of your Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service and fellow 4-H’ers.

These topics have friends in nearly every county. Local communities have numerous knowledgeable, civic-minded resource people. These include farmers practicing good soil and water conservation, well-trained persons who install septic systems, and those who construct buildings and roads. In most cases they would be delighted to help a youngster prepare and learn.

In addition to those cited above, here are more examples of people with information.

  • Local Supervisors of your Soil and Water Conservation District
  • County Health Department
  • Schoolteachers interested in natural resources
  • County Forest Ranger
  • County Landfill Manager
  • The Water Treatment Plant
  • County or City Planning Office
  • Sediment Control Specialist (Planning Office)
  • Leading Public Spirited Citizens
  • League of Women Voters
  • Garden Club Leaders
  • Members of Civic Clubs
  • Website: You can check out the site: to learn things about conservation tillage; click on the “Know Your Watershed,” enter your zip code or city, and learn things about the watershed in which you live.



  • District winners in 9-10 and 11-13 age categories receive certificates;
  • District winner of 14-18 category receives $75 scholarship to State 4H Congress for each winner or team member.
  • State award is a $50 award for each age division winner or team member.


    • NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
    • Attn: Mr. Lynn Sprague
    • Div. of Soil and Water Conservation
    • 1614 Mail Service Center
    • Raleigh, NC 27699-1614