President Updates

June, 2017

Regular followers of the NCDEA Facebook and/or NCDEA Twitter accounts already know that June was a very busy and successful month for the National Conservation District Employees Association. For those of you who are not, I invite you to follow, but offer the following review in the meantime:

First and foremost the NCDEA Board is very pleased to welcome the following Regional Representatives:

We thank these new members to the NCDEA Board for their leadership and commitment to strengthen conservation district employee professional capacity and influence conservation policy locally, regionally and nationally.

2017 NCDEA Mid-Year Meeting, Bismarck, ND - June 13-16, 2017

NCDEA Vice President Rhonda Kelsch welcomed the NCDEA Board to the capital of her home state of North Dakota for four complete days of professional development, partnership activities, and Board work.

In order for the NCDEA Board to better represent their constituents, it has become customary to spend time with Conservation Districts at the local level where the meeting is being held. This year included field tours of facilities owned by Conservation Districts at the local, Area, and state levels that conduct research, education, and provide product(s) for their constituencies, as well as demonstrate proper techniques for soil health and conservation of the natural resources.

On Tuesday, June 13, 2017 we were honored to be welcomed by Mary Podoll, USDA-NRCS – North Dakota State Conservationist. Mary thanked the group for coming to North Dakota, expressed her pride in the North Dakota State Conservation Partnership and her personal belief in the importance of strong conservation partnerships at all levels. She also thanked the NCDEA Board and all conservation district employees nationwide for their contributions to that effort.

Mary met the group at the “LINCOLN” unit of the Lincoln-Oakes Nursery that has been owned and operated by the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts (NDASCD) since 1953. She then introduced Nursery Manager Bill Elhard who proceeded to take the group on a tour of the nursery facilities. The group was educated on the staggering amount of trees that are tested, grown, harvested, stored, and sold by the nursery to Conservation Districts and like-minded conservationists in North Dakota and the surrounding Central and Northern United States for conservation, wildlife, and restoration plantings.

The Burleigh County Soil Conservation District (BCSCD) played host next at their Menoken Farm. Darrell Oswald, District Technician and Menoken Farm Manager welcomed the group and offered a review of BCSCD activities, and the function of the Menoken Farm. He explained how the District manages the 150 acre farm, and utilizes the garden and associated greenhouse for research, development, demonstration, and practical application of proper soil health techniques. He then introduced Jay Fuhrer, USDA-NRCS Soil Health Specialist who proceeded to give the group a brief Soil Health Workshop, and explain in more detail how the Menoken Farm is used for education of soil health principles and restoration.

North Dakota Area IV Soil Conservation Districts Cooperative Research Farm – At this site Cal Thorson, USDA-Agricultural Research Service Technical Information Specialist provided the group lunch, a history of the farm, and an overview of the many research findings that have resulted in innovations to tools and techniques now used throughout the agricultural community. He also explained how the conference facility at the farm was utilized by all facets of the community and conservation partnership for meetings and trainings, resulting in a stronger partnership with the entire community.

We cannot thank all of the contributors to this day enough; the knowledge that the NCDEA Board gained is invaluable to their ability to represent district employees and activities outside of their own home districts and regions. Additionally, we would like to thank Rhonda Kelsch, Betty Brown, and Beth McCleary of Morton County SCD for providing transportation throughout the day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 was “NCDEA Administration Day” when the NCDEA Board worked on the administrative tasks inherent to the operations. The day was filled with approval of minutes and financial statements; reports by the President, Executive Director, and Regional Representatives; and hours of meetings and work of the working committees of the Board. One of many significant outcomes from this work was the kick starting of an NCDEA Twitter page. If you have not begun to follow, please do. This proved to be a very long, busy day.

On “National Conservation Partnership Day”, Thursday, June 15, 2017 the strength of the current partnership was evident as the NCDEA Board was joined and provided updates and discussion by the following partner agency leaders:

  • Jeremy Peters, NACD Chief Executive Officer
    • Update on NACD’s partnership activities, current legislative activities, continued commitment to District Employees participation on NACD Foundation Committees and Resource Policy Groups, preview of 2017 NACD Summer Meeting, and 2018 NACD Annual Meeting, etc.
  • Mike Brown, NASCA Executive Director
    • Update on NASCA’s partnership activities, encouraged submission of voluntary conservation success stories to NASCA sponsored Why Conservation Works website, challenged NCDEA to continue the successful implementation of their Strategic Plan, preview of joint 2017 NASCA NWC Conservation Conference, etc.
  • Tom Christensen, USDA-NRCS Associate Chief of Operations
    • Update on NRCS partnership activities, USDA-NRCS meeting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, federal budget and outlook, current NRCS staffing issues, vehicle fleet management challenges, Conservation Desktop, new field office software being released in segments which will eventually replace “Toolkit”, Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI), preview of Conservation Partnership Leadership Development Symposium 2017, etc.
  • Mary Podoll, USDA-NRCS–North Dakota State Conservationist
    • Offered her continued commitment to the partnership, including assistance of her staff in any way possible, and thanked NCDEA again for coming to North Dakota, etc.

Additional discussion of other partnership activities followed the “official” reports and discussion. Topics covered included the activities of; USDA-NRCS National Employee Development Board, National Conservation Planning Partnership, the National Conservation Foundation including the Envirothon, NACD Task Forces, NACD Foundation Committees, and NACD Resource Policy Groups.

The NCDEA Board cannot thank these partner leaders enough for taking time out of their busy schedules and investing it in the partnership with NCDEA.

Once again, Thursday was a long, very busy day.

Then came Friday, June 16, 2017, “NCDEA Roll Up the Sleeves Day”. This day was devoted to actual pen on paper work towards the NCDEA Strategic Plan, the NCDEA/NRCS Contribution Agreement(s) deliverables, and detailed planning for NCDEA activities at the 2018 NACD Annual Meeting.

As you have read, the meeting comprised of four long and very busy days, but most importantly – very rewarding days for the continued development and strengthening of the NCDEA Board and its partnership with National Conservation Partnership agencies. Thanks you’s go out once again to NCDEA Vice President Rhonda Kelsch as she handled all of the logistical planning for the meeting.

Conservation Partnership Leadership Development Symposium 2017

Just five (5) short days following the completion of the Mid-Year Meeting your NCDEA Board joined other partner leaders from around the country in Lincoln, Nebraska for this event. The day comprised of presentations by leadership within each of the National Conservation Partnership agencies. NCDEA was very proud to have three current officers on the Agenda, along with new North Central Region Representative Chessa Frahm, and Executive Director Rich Duesterhaus. The networking and sharing of success stories was invaluable. For an excellent review of the Symposium by NRCS Natural Resource Manager Jon Vrana I invite you to visit his blog entry on “The Crow’s Nest – Conservation Symposium in Lincoln, NE”.

Next up is the 2017 NACD Summer Meeting, July 15-18, 2017 in Altoona, Iowa where several NCDEA Board members will be present to work hand in hand again with other Conservation District employees and partner leaders.

All information regarding the ongoing work of NCDEA is disseminated through the NCDEA communications network of email, phone, mail, Facebook and Twitter 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 this www.ncdea.org website for more information and current activities of the NCDEA. While there you may note that there is a current board vacancy for a Regional Representative in the Southwest region. The NCDEA Board is working to fill this vacancy, 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 (rich-duesterhaus@nacdnet.org) or myself (timothy.riley@state.de.us).

Sincerely,
NATIONAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION

Timothy M. Riley
NCDEA President
Dover, Delaware

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