Water is the topic du jour at Floyd’s observation of Earth Day this Saturday in the Floyd County High School auditorium and the schedule of speakers features a lot of people with long lists of academic credentials and lots of initials after their names.

Ordinarily, such a large collection of eggheads would send me screaming into the hills. I approach presentations from academic types and "experts" with the same trepidation as a root canal. These are the folks who think a 200-slide PowerPoint presentation is a "brief summary" and use words that drive up sales of encyclopedias and thesauruses.

But even glutenous consumers like myself must recognize that the earth’s resources are running short. So I’ll probably be in the auditorium listening intently and hoping the PowerPoints are kept to a minimum. Jason Rutledge is on the program and at least he uses words that even a country boy can understand. Also, Fred First promises that his presentation contains only "sixty Floyd County digital images."

The schedule (courtesy of Fred First at Fragments From Floyd).

9:30 Fred First

Fred First moved to Wytheville, Virginia from Alabama in 1975 and taught biology at WCC until 1987. Since 1989 he’s been a licensed physical therapist practicing locally and has also taught as adjunct biology faculty at RU. Since 2002 he’s written and photographed the “beautiful ordinaries” of life in Floyd County and shared these reflections on his blog, Fragments from Floyd, in his book, Slow Road Home, and by way of NPR essays and his columns in the Floyd Press and Roanoke Star Sentinel. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the South Fork of the Roanoke River.

PRESENTATION ~ Fred will narrate his multimedia “Our Place in the World” that includes some sixty Floyd County digital images. His presentation offers a visually-rich and compelling invitation to forge deeper relationships with the landscapes we call home.

10:00 Tammy Stephenson

Tambera (Tammy) D. Stephenson is the Senior Water Supply Planner for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. In this capacity, she works with localities in western and southwest Virginia in developing local and regional water supply plans. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Old Dominion University and is certified as an Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program Administrator. Tammy serves on the Alleghany Highlands YMCA Board of Directors and Executive Board, President of the Alleghany Highlands Humane Society Board of Directors, Chairman of the Upper James River Roundtable/Mountain Waters RC&D, Chairman of the Alleghany Highlands Emergency Food and Shelter Board, and a member of the Council for Rural Development Board of Directors Tammy is married to Roscoe B. Stephenson, III, an attorney, and has three children: Nick, Sarah, and Daniel, and two stepchildren: Jane and Bo, one granddaughter by Jane and Joe, Antonia, and one granddaughter on her way (due early April) by Nick and Courtney.

PRESENTATION ~Tammy Stephenson will discuss the role of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and particularly, her role there as she works with the region and localities in the development of their water supply plans. She will provide a brief overview of Virginia’s Water Supply Planning regulation which requires all localities in the Commonwealth to develop water supply plans that will become part of a statewide water supply strategy. In addition, she will identify policies that may impact the water supply and offer actions that everyone might take to conserve water inside and outside the home.

10:30 Rupert Cutler

Rupert Cutler of Roanoke, Virginia, is vice chairman of the board of directors of the Western Virginia Water Authority, a trustee of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and a former member of the Roanoke City Council (2002-2006). A native of Detroit, Michigan, he has an undergraduate degree in wildlife management from the University of Michigan (1955) and master’s (1971) and doctor of philosophy (1972) degrees from the Department of Resource Development of Michigan State University.

He has been the editor of the Virginia Game Department’s magazine, Virginia Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation’s magazine, National Wildlife. He has been assistant executive director of The Wilderness Society, senior vice president of the National Audubon Society, executive director of Population-Environment Balance, president of Defenders of Wildlife, and president of the Virginia Section of The Wildlife Society. Rupert was assistant secretary of the US Department of Agriculture in charge of the Forest Service and the Soil Conservation Service during the Carter Administration.

Since 1991, Dr. Cutler has resided in Roanoke where he has served as executive director of Virginia’s Explore Park, an outdoor living history museum, and founding executive director of the Western Virginia Land Trust.

PRESENTATION ~ Dr. Cutler will offer ideas regarding grass-roots measures for conservation of water supplies and protection of water sources. He’ll describe how easements can help keep working farms and forests going, to provide local food and fiber and protect watersheds. Reducing the amount of coal and oil-based electrical energy we use can reduce air pollution and slow climate change and global warming. We can reduce our “carbon footprints” in southwest Virginia and should encourage state and national legislators to help us manage our water and other natural resources and maintain a healthful environment.

11:00 David E. “Jason” Rutledge

Mr. Rutledge is a lifetime farmer, forester, horseman and father of four. He co-founded Healing Harvest Forest Foundation in 1999 along with community volunteers and fellow horse loggers. He has provided leadership as a visionary and practitioner of “restorative forestry” speaking on the issues of sustainable forestry and sustainable agriculture all over the United States. He was awarded the Rock the Earth Planet Defender title in 2006, has been featured on the cover of the Mother Earth News, Draft Horse Journal and has been featured on television for PBS, A & E Discovery Channel in the documentary “In The Company of Horses”. Jason has raised, trained and worked Suffolk horses for nearly thirty years. He is a native Virginian and lives on Ridgewind Farm in the Appalachian Mountains of Floyd County, a “born teacher who has done more than anybody else known to me to establish horse logging and sustainable forestry as a way of life and work among younger people. In my opinion, his educational efforts are worth whatever you may wish to invest in them.” Wendell Berry, December 31, 2007

PRESENTATION ~ Jason Rutledge will speak on the issue of water as being the most valuable product to come out of the forest. Since the forest is the largest landscape condition in our region it plays a vital part in our environmental quality. Jason practices restorative forestry that is ecosystem based, carbon positive and a part of ecological capitalism.11:30 David Crawford (no bio available)

11:30 David Crawford of Rainwater Management Solutions (Roanoke) ~ will speak on practical aspects of rainwater harvesting and other practical and sustainable ways to manage freshwater resources.