On Monday, Oct. 29, NACD President Brent Van Dyke published an op-ed in Agri-Pulse entitled “Conservation Needs Farm Bill Compromise.”

“Everyone has a stake in the farm bill and the support it provides for not only a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply, but for the conservation benefits the bill provides for cleaner water and healthier soils. As conferees continue to meet and work out a compromise between their versions of the farm bill, Congress must ensure the locally-led conservation delivery system will continue to thrive in the final product.

“Farm bill conservation programs are successful when local stakeholders have a say in what natural resource concerns need to be addressed. Resource concerns look different across this nation. While water quality may be important in the Chesapeake Bay, water quantity may be the focus out West. That’s why determining those unique resource concerns at the local level is so important.

“Unfortunately, some are publicly calling for Congress to take one chamber’s version over the other. In August, NACD provided a blueprint of what this compromise should look like to the conference committee. Each version has policies worthwhile of the final product, and a compromise should blend the best parts of each bill.”

To read the full article, visit Agri-Pulse’s website.


On Oct. 22-24, NACD Second Vice President and Tribal Outreach and Partnership Resource Policy Group (RPG) Chairman Michael Crowder attended meetings in Alaska to discuss the state’s natural resource concerns, partnerships and tribal outreach.

In Anchorage, the Alaska Tribal Conservation Alliance (ATCA) (pictured) hosted a symposium entitled “Building Our Foundation.” Symposium attendees heard from USDA National Tribal Liaison Barry Hamilton, Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, and USDA Office of the Secretary Acting Director for the Office of Tribal Relations, Linda Cronin. Crowder spoke on behalf of NACD and spoke to the benefits of expanding outreach to and partnering with tribal conservation districts. During the symposium, tribal conservation districts described their barriers and success stories. Meeting attendees discussed funding strategies, invasive species mitigation, rural development, and partnership with NRCS hubs.

On Wednesday, Crowder attended the Alaska Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) annual meeting. Crowder provided an update on NACD’s recent work and led a roundtable discussion on working with tribal conservation districts. Meeting participants discussed their positive partnerships and passed a resolution supporting co-location with tribal conservation districts in the future. AACD adopted the resolution, encouraging the state’s Department of Natural Resources and USDA to create enabling regulations to allow co-location and collaboration between tribal and state districts.


NACD’s 2019 Live Auction during the 73rd Annual Meeting is a great opportunity for districts and state associations to showcase their pride by featuring local artisanship, hand-crafted jewelry, iconic art and goods associated with the region.

All proceeds from the live auction support important NACD programs including the Soil Health Champions Network and the Stewardship and Education Program. Districts, state associations, businesses, organizations, individuals and other members of the conservation community can donate items to the auction. Popular items include equipment, gift certificates, all-inclusive trips, outdoor experiences or handcrafted goods such as woodwork or quilts.

NACD makes it easy to submit items by using an online Auction Form. Following the receipt of the donation form, including photos, the tax-deductible contribution will be featured through NACD’s pre-auction promotions, the NACD website and the printed auction catalog. The deadline to pledge auction donations for inclusion in the auction booklet is Nov. 30, 2018; these items will receive a full write-up on the artisan, manufacturer or donor.

Join NACD for the Live Auction on Feb. 4, 2019 during the 2019 NACD Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. For more meeting information, visit the NACD Annual Meeting webpage.


NACD is teaming up again with partners to help districts provide conservation technical assistance for urban agriculture. A new round of funding will be made available this fall through the NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) Initiative. NACD expects to fund UAC technical assistance for up to 20 conservation districts for a one-year project. The UAC Request for Proposals is expected to be released in November.

The next Urban and Community (U&C) Conservation webinar, scheduled for 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, will review this initiative and respond to members’ questions. To best prepare for the Q&A, NACD asks that districts send any questions they have to Senior Advisor Deb Bogar at deb-bogar@nacdnet.org prior to the webinar.

These popular webinars, held on the third Thursday of each month, are sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company in partnership with the NACD Urban and Community Resource Policy Group. There is no cost to participate, but space is limited. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. To register, email Debra Bogar at deb-bogar@nacdnet.org with your name, title, district or business name, state and email address. Information to access the webinar will be sent by email.

Did you know district employees may be entitled to FMLA protection? The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees certain employees the ability to take family, medical and military leave. Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year. During this time, their employer must maintain their health insurance benefits and ensure that they have the same or an equivalent job for them to return to.

There are two important questions that need to be asked when determining whether an employee is eligible for FMLA leave: (1) Is the employer covered? and (2) Is the employee eligible? This last qualification is the trickiest, since many districts do not have 50 or more employees. However, FMLA generally treats the state as a single employer and the county as a single employer. It’s not just a question of the number of employees at the district, but also the number of employees their level of government has.

Although offering family and medical leave can place a burden on the employer, it is an important and valued benefit for your employees. Offering these benefits can help retain experienced staff and promote a positive view of you as an employer. Read more in this month’s edition of “Did You Know?”


On Sept. 27, Caribe Soil Conservation District (SCD) in Puerto Rico held its annual meeting for the first time in 15 years. The meeting, held at the Cayacoll Cultural Center in Cayabo, Juana Diaz, hosted about 80 participants, including representatives from the USDA-NRCS, Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Extension Service, PR Land Authority and the Department of Education.

Caribe SCD, is one of the eight conservation districts in Puerto Rico, and was founded in 1946. The district covers the municipalities of Peñuelas, Ponce, Juana Diaz, Villalba, Coamo, Santa Isabel and Salinas, located in the South and South center of the island.

The Caribe SCD Board of Directors evaluated their work plan for the coming year, including a review of the conservation technician agreements with NRCS and NACD. This work plan emphasized the following objectives: to provide technical assistance to farmers and district land users to implement conservation measures; to develop or implement an outreach program for farmers and district land users on NRCS' technical and financial services; to develop and implement an educational program for farmers, land users and the general public; and to develop a Local Working Group for USDA-NRCS programs.


On Monday, Oct. 20, NACD President Brent Van Dyke sent a message to conservation districts and leaders in conservation across the country, asking for their support of the NACD and the National Conservation Foundation (NCF)’s Next Generation Leadership Campaign.

“Contributing to this campaign enables NACD and NCF to identify and develop leaders on the local, state and national level. If we are going to be sustainable as a country, we have to set up a model that will assist and deliver conservation for the next 50 years. This campaign will help us recruit the leaders in that next generation that are best equipped to continue circulating the conservation message in the future.”

“We have to gather the next generation of men and women to get a game plan on how agriculture and conservation move forward. Through this campaign, we have a vision to reach the next generation to help them develop the skillset they need to enable them to make a difference in the conservation community.”

To read Van Dyke’s letter in full, visit the Next Generation Leadership Campaign website.

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