Understanding Hillsborough County's Soil and Water Conservation District before election day

Posted at 6:28 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 18:28:21-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Whether it's helping farmers conserve water or teaching kids how to take care of the environment, the Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District says what they do is important for everyone.

"We've got to be concerned about our future not only here locally, but worldwide," said Executive Director Betty Jo Tompkins.

She answers to the five elected board members, who volunteer their time and are non-partisan.

This election has seven people running for two open seats on Hillsborough's board.

"They are people committed to increasing the conservation environmental impact of this Earth to make sure they are doing everything they can to make our world as viable as it can be," said Tompkins.

The district's main project each year is the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, where they lead 100 different conservation projects.

"That includes road and river clean-ups, tree planting, wildlife habitats. All kinds of other activities. And we try and encourage the public to get involved," said Tompkins.

The conservation districts have roots going back to the 1930s when the Federal government created the national conservation service to deal with the ecological disaster caused by the dust bowl.

And the work continues today.

"Every year in this world, two million people die from consuming polluted water, and another 20 million are debilitated. But if that weren't of enough concern, if we don't increase agriculture production by 50%-100% in the next 30 years, we are going to have massive starvation in this world," said Tompkins.

It can be hard to learn about the candidates from these races, so we did some legwork for you.

To learn about the platforms of the candidates running for the conservation district board go to