The Charleston District prides itself on being actively involved in the Charleston community. Over the past 10 years, the District has hosted many community outreach events, and they have grown exponentially to become huge successes.
In 2014, the District hosted the Inaugural Sweetgrass Harvesting Day (SHD) at the St. Stephen Powerhouse. Sweetgrass basket makers and pullers from all over the Charleston area came to the powerhouse to pull the naturally growing sweetgrass, which they use for their craft. While sweetgrass is not an endangered species, it is declining, due to development, and this makes it difficult for basket makers to find grass. After it was discovered growing naturally and abundantly at the powerhouse, the District started planning the event to occur in late summer, which is harvesting season, and partnered with the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association to spread the word. Fifteen basket makers and pullers attended the first event, but each year participation has grown. For a variety of reasons, the sweetgrass basket craft is dwindling, so the District invited students from Miracle Academy to attend the event to learn how to properly harvest the grass. Corps employees and sweetgrass weavers even went into their classroom after their grass had dried to teach them how to weave it into small discs. At the 2018 event, more than 55 harvesters and 25 students attended the event.
Also at the powerhouse property, Wounded Warriors from around the Lowcountry attended the inaugural Wounded Warrior and Veterans Fishing Tournament in the spring of 2014 and the inaugural Dove Hunt that fall. The fishing tournament takes place during fish passage season, which is from February 1 through May 15, to ensure that the conditions are optimal for fishing. Since its inception, students have participated to help the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources collect biological data of the fish that are caught. The 2019 event was the biggest to date, with nearly 50 Veterans and 20 tenth grade
biology students from Timberland High School in attendance. The Dove Hunt takes place during SCDNR’s designated dove hunting season and, in 2018, 26 Veterans attended.
To cultivate relationships between federal agencies and to educate the public on the services that the agencies provide, the District pioneered, implemented and executed the Federal Executive Association’s Annual Government Agencies Exhibition starting in 2015. Federal agencies use displays, equipment and vehicles to interact with and showcase their missions and programs to the public. In 2018, the expo expanded to include state government agencies increasing the number of participants by 25 percent. After the first event, schools were invited to attend in future years to interact with federal civilian and military employees and learn about STEM careers.