NACD South Central Region leaders meet in Little Rock

Last week, local conservation district officials, conservation employees, state conservation agency staff, NRCS staff, and other conservation leaders from across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas came together for the NACD South Central Region meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The meeting’s highlights included a day-long conservation tour that focused on water conservation projects, soil health, and farm management for wildlife habitat. The following morning, speakers gave updates on feral swine management and chronic wasting disease, and Harrison Pittman with the National Agricultural Law Center spoke on the latest legal issues impacting agriculture and conservation programs.

Rick Jeans of Oklahoma, NACD Executive Board member for the South Central region, gave a briefing on NACD activities and upcoming meetings. Coleta Bratton of the Employees Association and Mike Brown of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies spoke to the group as well.

Jeans will be succeeded in February as the South Central board representative by Bill Thomas from Texas. Jule Richmond from Texas was elected to serve another term as region chairman. In 2017, the region meeting will be held in Louisiana.

North Carolina Hosts 2016 NACD Southeast Region Meeting

The North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (NCASWCD) was the host of this year’s NACD Southeast Region Meeting held from July 31 to August 2. Over 250 soil and water enthusiasts from the region gathered in Cherokee, North Carolina – the home state of the “father of conservation” Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett – for a board meeting and a Conservation Partnership Roundtable discussion on conservation capacity building.

NACD’s Forestry Resource Policy Group, which meets biannually to review and discuss issues and policies affecting conservation district forestry, also joined the Southeast Region leaders in Cherokee. Keynote speakers included Patrick Lambert, chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Steve Troxler, North Carolina’s agriculture commissioner; Dick Went, NACD second vice president; Jones Loflin, motivational speaker and advocate for soil and water conservation; Allen Nicolas, a forest supervisor for the Forest Service in North Carolina; and Mike Brown, executive director of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA).

Pictured from left to right are Southeast Region leaders Julie Groce, NCASWCD executive director; Ben Knox, NCASWCD president; Franklin Williams, NC NACD board member; Jeff Harris, NC NACD alt. board member; Kevin Jeffries, Southeast Region Chair; Dick Went, NACD second vice president; and Phylis Vandevere, Southeast Region representative.

In addition, state executive directors, soil and water conservation leaders, private agriculture industry representatives, and local touring opportunities provided valuable educational information on cover crops, agricultural drones, community and urban conservation projects, soil health initiatives, and agriculture water management. For a complete list of speakers and more information about the meeting, click here. And as a heads up, next year’s NACD Southeast Region meeting will be held in Greenville, South Carolina, in August.

Arizona CDs meet with other conservation leaders

Tribal, state, and federal partners met with representatives of the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts in Flagstaff last week to focus on the Arizona Forest Partnership and tribal forest management, tour local forestry projects, and receive technical training. Debbie Hughes, executive director of the New Mexico Association of Conservation (NMACD), discussed how the NMACD collaborates with partners to restore watershed health in New Mexico.

The full board of directors also met to review policies, position statements, resolutions, and standard operating procedures. Jeff Burwell, NACD’s Western Issues Specialist, presented on NACD’s current forest health projects in the West and encouraged ranchers and woodland owners in western states to join the Soil Health Champions Network.

Oklahoma student wins Auxiliary scholarship

Max Barrett Cosby from Buffalo, Oklahoma, won the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts' Auxiliary scholarship and represented the state for the NACD South Central Regional Auxiliary scholarship contest last week. After more than two hours of deliberation, the Buffalo High School graduate was selected over applicants from Texas and Louisiana for the prize.

Cosby has worked closely with Harper County Conservation District over the years, volunteering for monthly monitoring and habitat assessments, invertebrate and fish collections, and groundwater testing. He also has brought conservation practices home with him, assisting his family with the conversion of their farmland to no-till. Cosby will attend Oklahoma State University in Stillwater this fall.

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