NACD launches Hall of Distinction to honor conservation leaders

NACD was established over 70 years ago in 1946 by a group of forward-thinking conservation district officials from across the country. These leaders recognized the need for a unified voice in natural resource conservation and worked tirelessly to ensure that conservation remained at the forefront of United States agricultural and environmental policy.

NACD is delighted to announce that its newly launched Hall of Distinction will recognize and honor past and present district official leaders who have helped pave the way for NACD's accomplishments. Your state or territory can induct a former or current district official to the Hall of Distinction every four years. Head to NACD’s website to access the online form used to make inductions, and keep an eye out for new inductees featured in eResource.

Indiana’s District Showcase Awards highlight the best of the best in conservation

Each fall, the Indiana Conservation Partnership (ICP) – a coalition of eight Indiana agencies including the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) – sponsors four District Showcase Awards throughout the state. The showcases allow Indiana’s conservation districts the chance to share best practices for conservation project design and implementation.

This year’s four conservation district honorees were: the Huntington County Soil and Water Conservation District Group (including Wabash County SWCD, Wells County SWCD, Blackford County SWCD, and Grant County SWCD), the Jennings County SWCD, the Washington County SWCD, and the Hamilton County SWCD.

Last week, the Hamilton County SWCD’s Urban Conservationist Claire Lane wrapped up the last of the four showcases with a detailed presentation on her district’s activities and a tour of several conservation projects. Pictured are tour attendees – including NACD North Central Representative Beth Mason – visiting the Carmel Clay Schools Plots to Plates Organic Gardens in Carmel, Indiana. Hamilton County SWCD was also one of the 42 conservation districts awarded an NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant in 2016.

Colorado Association of Conservation Districts looks to the future

Over 200 representatives from Colorado’s 76 conservation districts and partner organizations met in Loveland, Colorado, last week for CACD’s 72nd annual meeting. NACD President Lee McDaniel and Western Issues Specialist Jeff Burwell spoke at the event, as did Les Owen, director of conservation services for Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, and Clint Evans, Colorado’s NRCS state conservationist.

The meeting featured six unique breakout sessions that covered topics like water usage and oversight, forestry stewardship tools, and district funding. Several Colorado conservation districts presented policy proposals related to water resources that will be submitted to NACD through the resolutions process. CACD also presented their 2016 Conservationist of the Year awards to farmers, ranchers, and state legislators.

Conservation Stewardship Program enrollment period open

USDA recently opened a new enrollment period for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The federal program provides financial assistance to farmers for expanding and maintaining conservation practices on working lands. Eligible practices include cover cropping, creating pollinator habitat, reducing pesticide drift, and converting to organic production.

If farmers and ranchers are interested in enrolling in CSP they have until February 3, 2017 to submit their initial application. Although NRCS accepts applications year-round, submissions after this date will not be considered until 2018. CSP is a highly competitive program. At the end of each enrollment period, applications are ranked and the highest scoring applications are funded.

Augusto, Berry represent NACD at Sustainable Agriculture Summit

Last week, a meeting unlike any other was convened in Atlanta, Georgia. The Sustainable Agriculture Summit – hosted by Field to Market, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the National Pork Board, the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef – featured presentations from industry experts on all aspects of supply chain sustainability.

NACD Communications Specialist Bill Berry represented conservation in a panel discussion featuring NRCS leaders and Field to Market staff. Berry’s session underscored the value of partnerships, allowing attendees to voice successes and potential improvements to conservation programming.

Following the summit, Field to Market – of which NACD is a member – held its annual plenary meeting and celebrated its 10th anniversary. Berry and NACD Director of Development Melisa Augusto participated in those business meetings and also used the time to introduce NACD to new corporate partners.

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