Conservationists of all ages celebrate Stewardship Week

From April 29 to May 5, districts, state associations and NACD all took part in celebrating the 63rd Annual Stewardship Week and its theme “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.”

In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a proclamation designating Arkansas Stewardship Week. Pictured are representatives from the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) and their partners – AACD President Martha Manley holds the proclamation with the governor.

On Friday, May 5, NACD staff hosted a booth at the opening of the USDA’s Farmers Market in the People’s Garden on the National Mall. The staff administered watershed and wetland quizzes, demonstrated nonpoint source pollution with an interactive watershed model from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, and were visited by NRCS’s mascot Sammy Soil and the Forest Service mascot Woodsy the Owl. USDA leadership stopped by the booth, including NRCS State Conservationist for Iowa Kurt Simon and Secretary Sonny Perdue, who visited with NACD CEO Jeremy Peters and NACD Northeast Region Representative and Policy Specialist Eric Hansen (pictured) on the importance of watershed stewardship.

Thank you to all the districts who celebrated Stewardship Week and helped make it successful! You can continue to celebrate the “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home” theme by participating in NACD’s poster contest, which closes December 1. Winners will be announced at our 2019 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

NACD Government affairs update

As a member of the National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition, ensuring healthy horses on healthy rangelands is a priority for NACD. On May 3, NACD Director of Government Affairs Coleman Garrison penned a blog on the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro Sustainability Report to Congress, describing the steps to address the unsustainable number of animals on federal lands.

On May 4, NACD sent a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee leadership urging them to support full baseline funding for the Conservation Title in the next farm bill. NACD has received indications that the Senate draft of the farm bill should be expected in the next few weeks; the House Committee on Agriculture’s 2018 Farm Bill is expected to be taken up on the House floor next week.

Earlier today, the Trump Administration submitted to Congress a list of programs that they would like to see Congress rescind funds from. This included $144 million in unobligated balances of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from FY 2014 through FY 2017, $50 million from the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations program from FY 2017, and $107 million in unobligated balances appropriated in FY 2013 for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program in response to Hurricane Sandy. Congress now has 45 days to respond to the request before it expires.

NACD and Southeast Region announce summer meeting speaker line-up

NACD’s 2018 Summer Conservation Forum and Tour and Southeast Region Meeting, held Aug. 3 -7 in Williamsburg, Va., is quickly approaching. NACD and the Southeast Region have prepared a week full of informative speakers, engaging tours, breakout sessions, networking and more! Click here to register – you won’t want to miss out.

Monday’s general session will feature a keynote speech from recently confirmed USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey. Northey is a former district commissioner for Dickinson County SWCD in Iowa and previously served as the state’s Secretary of Agriculture. Under Secretary Northey will oversee USDA’s farm production and conservation mission area, which includes the Farm Services Agency (FSA), the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Mississippi forest landowner and Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD) Program Assistant Vickie Roberts-Ratliff will be one of the keynote speakers for Tuesday’s general session. Roberts-Ratliff is a sixth-generation landowner in Mississippi, where she and her mother own property designated as an agroforestry demonstration site. In her work with GACD, Roberts-Ratliff assists landowners, especially female and African-American landowners, with conservation practices and forest management plans. Learn more about Roberts-Ratliff in this NACD Forestry Notes feature article.

Click here to read the full line-up of speakers, including confirmed and invited speakers, on NACD’s website. Visit the Summer Meeting webpage to learn more about the agenda, tour options and hotel accommodations.

Greene County SWCD, Missouri

In 2016, NACD and NRCS selected the Greene County SWCD in Missouri as one of the recipients of the inaugural Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative. Through this award, Greene County SWCD provided funds to the Springfield Community Gardens (SCG) to create a working urban market garden in Springfield’s under-resourced Zone 1 district. Within six months, community members, students and partners helped create a green, food-filled oasis in the middle of the Grant Beach neighborhood.

The garden acts as a center of educational opportunities, technical assistance and sustainable production located at a former elementary school turned community center. Using help from over 286 volunteers giving over 830 hours of service, the space now has 34 in-ground beds in production, totaling approximately 3,725 square feet of bed space.

SCG also uses the space to serve the community, hosting free educational workshops on gardening and conservation topics for approximately 270 community members. SCG has provided technical assistance and resources to a network of 23 community gardens, as well as school gardens and neighbors.

Produce grown at the SCG Market Garden has several outlets, including the weekly C-Street City Market, also located in Zone 1. The weekly contact with market patrons allows connection with even more people about ways to get involved with SCG through gardens, education or events. Produce is also sold to area restaurants, neighbors and others, and is donated to community dinners, local food distributions and volunteers.

The SCG Market Garden has been a successful and valuable addition to a neighborhood being revitalized through grassroots efforts focusing on food, wellness, access to resources and community building. Learn more about the other 2016 NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant award recipient projects on our website.

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