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  • Writer's pictureSonya Terry

NRCS Conservation Bootca

I’d like to apologize for the inactivity on our website, Facebook, and Twitter over the past month. I have been in Lincoln, Nebraska learning about conservation planning. Through a partnership between the National Association of Conservation Districts and the Natural Resource Conservation Service I was able to attend the June session of the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Boot Camp. This training is intended for new NRCS employees; it is designed to teach field employees how to guide decision makers or landowners through the conservation planning process. There were five NRCS instructors that lead our training: Kathy Buttle, from Nebraska; Matt Denton, from Tennessee; Kasey Robinson, from Kansas; Bruce Rider, from North Carolina; and Darren Moser, from Illinois. These inspiring instructors shared their conservation planning knowledge and expertise with 35 Conservation District employees and NRCS employees from across the United States and U.S. Territories.  We spent three weeks in Lincoln, Nebraska attending classes at the Robert V. Denney Federal Building. The federal building also houses the National Soil Survey Center, which we were lucky enough to tour.

We spent about half our training time in the classroom and half out in the field on a no-till research farm owned by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Rogers Memorial Farm. Paul Jasa ran the Rain Fall Simulator and gave an exciting presentation about soil health on one of our field days. Our instructors explained several tools and assessments used in the Nine-Step Conservation Planning Process. We used the data collected from the field in our classroom along with input from our decision maker to put together a conservation plan. In groups of three we visited with our decision maker and presented the plans based on what our decision maker’s conservation goals.

I have been working the Aiken Soil and Water Conservation District (ASWCD) for two years. The ASWCD office is shared with the Aiken NRCS field office. I occasionally go along on field visits with our District Conservationist Josh Martin to help with resource assessments, evaluations, and first time field visits with our landowners. I mostly however work behind the scene helping Josh with the paperwork attached to conservation planning, mapping, and cost-share programs. After attending the training I have a new understanding of the conservation planning process and the role I play in our partnership between the District and NRCS. The most important part of conservation planning is field work; it is being on the land with the decision maker. I will continue to help with all office aspects – paperwork, scheduling, mapping, answering landowner questions, and uploading documents, so that our District Conservationist and Soil Conservationist can spend the necessary and important time out in the field. I will however be ready to help in the field whenever they need it!  


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