Your NCDEA Board and I have just returned from a successful 2016 NACD Annual Meeting in Reno, NV. At the meeting our spirits were invigorated by District Employees, and employees and leaders of the other agencies of the National Conservation Partnership (NCP) when they approached each of us on separate occasions complimenting us on the current state of NCDEA, and the professionalism that we display. It is a true testament to the work that has been done by those that came before us, and those of us currently serving NCDEA.
The meeting activities for NCDEA included; two Board meetings; two NCDEA sponsored tours; representation at all Partner Agency Leaders meetings; moderating of numerous breakout sessions by NCDEA Board Members, Officers, and their designees; an NCDEA Reception; and the NCDEA Partner’s Brunch where the 2016 NCDEA Board and Officer teams were sworn in, the NCDEA District Employee Choice and District Official Awards were presented, and each Partner Leader spoke regarding the current state of the NCP.
It is my pleasure to announce that the District Employee Choice Award was presented to Rick Mickowski of Delaware, and the District Official Award was presented to John Peterson of Virginia; both very deserving awardees that have worked tirelessly for many years on efforts promoting and assisting the advancement of District Employees nationwide.
Discussions throughout the meeting revolved around current activities of local, state, and regional partnerships; and the NCP; activities that the bulk of the NCDEA work in 2015 revolved around that continue to provide benefits, and improvements to the nationwide conservation delivery system.
The entire NCDEA Board and designees were busy throughout the year; representing district employees on task forces, committees, leadership conferences, and other local, state, regional and national activities of every partner agency of the NCP. There have been three major themes we have tried to impress upon the members of our partner agencies, and other interested parties.
To this end, NCDEA has also continued to work on characterizing and evaluating state conservation delivery systems as part of their 2014 and 2015 Contribution Agreements with NRCS.
In many cases strengths and/or weaknesses may differ between technical, financial, logistical, etc. Through collaboration and willingness to share resources, many (if not all) weaknesses can be overcome. For example, if you are in a state that is too large to travel for meetings face to face, and your District does not have the budget for conference calls – NRCS most likely has an option for you. They have the budget, and VTC capabilities in most locations throughout the country to accommodate Partnership activities. I can tell you they are very accommodating on the National level, and regularly encourage their Regional, State, and local representatives to be the same.
Understand that the example I provided in number 2 above where NRCS may offer conference call and/or VTC capabilities to partners to accommodate Partnership activities very well will not just happen through a blanket announcement. It will take someone asking the question and/or presenting a proposal, i.e. championing the effort!
Number 3 above was the main focus of my comments in November when I addressed the contingency at the NRCS State Conservationists Orientation Training in Washington, DC. I impressed upon the State Conservationists present that in most cases Districts have the expertise to deliver the message, and more times than not it’s the same message NRCS is trying to deliver, often they just need the delivery vehicle provided and/or funding to do so. This same message has been echoed by the other National Partnership agency leaders including NACD, NASCA, and RC&D. Be a champion, or find the champion you need for your efforts and priorities, the highest of which should be a strong Conservation Partnership at all levels.
I am very happy to report that right now the NCP agency leaders are as good a set of “Champions” for the NCP as there has ever been. Quite literally, District Employees have arrived on the national level, and this success is attributed of course to those current leaders, but more importantly to the hard work of our predecessors begun over 25 years ago, and formalized by an NACD Board decision in Reno, NV in 1992 recognizing NCDEA as an affiliated organization. With this vote came NACD’s commitment to provide the NCDEA with the same privileges, rights and services as other NACD affiliated organizations. In turn, NCDEA committed to having the same communication with NACD as other affiliated organizations; all of which was formalized once again with the signing of the MOA by the National Conservation Partnership Leaders at the 2015 NACD Meeting in New Orleans, LA.
Perhaps the most comprehensive undertaking of the NCP to date began in 2015 with the initiation of the National Conservation Planning Partnership Initiative (NCPPI), which is designed to reinvigorate conservation planning as the foundation for voluntary conservation delivery. NCDEA Past President Irene Moore, and former NCDEA Southeast Regional Representative Mendel Wade agreed to represent NCDEA on the National Conservation Planning Partnership Leadership Team working on this initiative, and your NCDEA Board recruited and named additional NCDEA representatives to serve on Action Teams for this effort. The amount of work being performed by this national team is staggering, and a true testament to the current strength of the NCP.
It was a very busy 2015 as NCDEA representatives traveled the nation to help deliver the message of the importance of strong partnerships at every level. Some of the specific meetings/events/activities included:
· NRCS National Employee Development Board Conference Call – January
· NRCS National Conservation Planning Conference – January
· NRCS Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative Advisory Committee Meeting - January
· NCDEA/NACD Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA – February
· National Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees Meeting – February
· NRCS Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative Advisory Committee Conference Call - Monthly
· NRCS National Employee Development Board Conference Call - March
· NACD Spring Legislative Fly-In, Washington, DC – March
· NCP Leadership Meeting, Washington, DC – March
· NCPPI Kickoff Meeting, Atlanta, GA - April
· NRCS National Employee Development Board Meeting, Fort Worth, TX - June
· NCDEA Mid-Year Meeting, Dallas, TX - June
· NACD Summer Board Meeting, Spokane, WA – July
· NCPPI Leadership Team Meeting, Spokane, WA – July
· Northeast Association of Conservation District Employees Meeting, Davis, WV – August
· South Central Employees Association Meeting - August
· Arizona NRCD State Association Summer Meeting - August
· NCP Leadership Conference Call – August
· NCP Leadership Conference Call - September
· NASCA Annual Meeting, Corpus Christi, TX – October
· NCP Leadership Meeting, Corpus Christi, TX – October
· NCPPI Leadership Team Meeting, Corpus Christi, TX – October
· NRCS National Employee Development Board Conference Call – October
· Delaware CDEA Annual Meeting – October
· NRCS Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative Advisory Committee Meeting - November
Southeast CD Employees Association (SECDEA) Annual Conference, Pigeon Forge, TN – November
· Colorado CD Association Annual Meeting, Denver, CO – November
· NRCS State Conservationists Orientation Training, Washington, DC – November
· Oklahoma ACDE Annual Meeting - December
· NACD Holiday Reception, Washington, DC - December
As you will note, NCDEA made visits to Arizona in August, and Colorado in November. These visits were made by Vice President Jeanette Hale and Former NCDEA President Connie Richmeier respectively. The purpose was to meet with both states to impress the importance of strong state partnerships, and provide a framework for them to grow and become more effective. This of course is a goal of NCDEA not only to help them strengthen their state partnerships, but also to bolster NCDEA’s relationship with District Employees in the Southwest region.
All information regarding the ongoing work of NCDEA is disseminated through the NCDEA communications network by the NCDEA Regional Representatives and Board Members. This communications network includes many strong state district employee associations that are actively working to advance and support the professionalism of district employees throughout the country, a function of the NCDEA mission.
Please take the time to visit www.ncdea.org for more information and current activities of the NCDEA. While there you may note that there are current vacancies for Regional Representatives in the Northern Plains and the Southwest regions. The NCDEA Board is working to fill these vacancies, and welcome any/all suggestions you may have to assist in this effort. For this or any other questions/suggestions/input you may have for your NCDEA organization, please do not hesitate to contact your regional representative, Rich Duesterhaus, NCDEA Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself (email@example.com).
NATIONAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
Timothy M. Riley
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