NACD celebrates father of soil conservation

On April 15, 1881, Hugh Hammond Bennett was born in Anson County, N.C.

Bennett worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils in the early 20th century, beginning his career with soil surveys across the country. He began steadily publishing articles increasing awareness about soil erosion’s decimation of farmland and its threat to rural America, and he advocated for the passage of the Soil Conservation Act, which established the Soil Conservation Service at USDA. Shortly after, the first soil conservation district was established in North Carolina, covering part of Bennett’s home county.

Learn more about Bennett’s critical work and enduring legacy by watching this video. NACD celebrates the life of Hugh Hammond Bennett and his commitment to enacting conservation practices nationwide. Click here to watch a short video by the Walton Family Foundation describing conservation solutions in action today in the Mississippi River Basin because of the work of conservationists like Bennett.

NACD welcomes new Mississippi senator

NACD Executive Board Southeast Region Member Jim Harreld traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to view the swearing-in of Mississippi’s first female Senator: Cindy Hyde-Smith. The former state agriculture and commerce commissioner, Hyde-Smith, a beef cattle farmer, was sworn in yesterday by Vice President Mike Pence.

NACD Soil Health Webinars: Your Tool for Outreach

With the establishment of the NACD Soil Health Champions Network, NACD has started to conducted monthly webinars focused on soil health to assist in further education and outreach. Each month, topics include aspects of soil health such as exploring the soil ecosystem of beneficial insects and invertebrates, nutrient management and soil biology, companion and cover crops, the incorporation and impacts of grazing, as well as current and on-going research. Speakers include NACD Soil Health Champions and experts in cooperating organizations and members of the USDA NRCS Soil Health Specialists Team.

While the live webinars are promoted within the network, each webinar is recorded and available online for the general public to utilize as a way to further soil health education and encourage more acres to be managed for soil health. To view the soil health webinars to date, please be sure to visit the NACD Soil Health Champions Network webpage and contact Beth Mason with any suggested topics and speakers for future webinars.

NRCS funding opportunities

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking proposals to assist with restoration work of degraded wetlands, floodplains and forestlands. Click here to learn more; applications must be received by May 18 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Twenty states are seeking Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) proposals to address local or state-level natural resource concerns. Louisiana, Oregon, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Arizona, Maine, California, Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New York, Iowa, Oklahoma, the Pacific Island Area and the Caribbean Area are all still accepting project proposals – contact your state’s NRCS office for more information.

Durham County SWCD, N.C.

Thanks to funding from NACD’s 2016 Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative, the Durham County Soil and Water Conservation District in North Carolina was able to accomplish its goal to bolster urban agricultural efforts within the county. The district provided eight training events, hired contractors to survey and educate producers regarding available technical services, and supported two existing entities – the Bull City Cool Food Hub (BCCFH) and the DPS Hub Farm – which serve Durham’s urban agricultural community.

The workshops covered key elements of urban agriculture, including operations and resource management. They were attended by a mix of farmers, gardeners, homeowners and conservation professionals interested in managing their land more sustainably and making more connections within Durham’s local food system.

The Piedmont Conservation Council, Inc. was contracted to identify and survey existing agricultural operations, including community gardens. Over 257 farms and 24 community gardens were visited and provided information about technical services available to them through the Durham SWCD and NRCS.

The BETC Summer Green Team (pictured here) was created, made up of Durham Public School teachers and high school students participating in the Durham YouthWorks Internship Program. Teachers and students worked together for six weeks, visiting nine schools and community sites, to establish and maintain storm water management projects and vegetable gardens. Field trips to a large-scale nursery, an organic farm, and traditional agricultural farms with produce and animals introduced students to potential career opportunities.

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