Newsletter Highlights:
  • Arizona Giving Day
  • AACD "Conserving Agriculture and Natural Resources Since 1944" Video
  • Meet AZ Rancher and Conservationist: Daric Knight, Apache NRCD
  • Conservation Stewardship Program and Educational Workshops for Your Local Producers
  • Using Videos to Educate the Public
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
April 2020 Newsletter
TODAY is Arizona Gives Day 2020
As we think about those who've been impacted by COVID-19, it is now more than ever that we need to support the people and organizations that work to conserve agriculture, our local food supply, and our natural resources.
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
"Conserving Agriculture and Natural Resources Since 1944"
Meet AZ Rancher and Conservationist
An Interview with Daric Knight, Apache NRCD
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.

I was born into a ranching family and am the fourth generation to continue our ranching heritage. I was raised on my Grandparents’ ranch, Hooper Hereford Ranch, in Springerville, Arizona, which is where my wife Patty and I live today. I graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Agri-business, and Patti and I continue to operate the ranch today under the name “White Mountain Herefords.” In addition to the ranch, Patty is an ICU nurse, and we run a hunting business as well as a natural resource construction business to compliment and boost the ranching side of things. 

What is the history of your ranch?

We run our cattle operation out of the original Hooper Herefords Ranch headquarters, which is where my mother grew up. Our White Mountain Hereford cattle run on some of the original Hooper Ranch. My parents and brothers all ranch close by, and at times we co-mingle our herds, which means we get to all work as a family often. We also lease an additional small ranch located close to the New Mexico Stateline. 
What breed of cattle do your raise? 

Patty and I purchased the remaining registered Hereford cow herd from my grandfather, Rob Hooper, around 2003. We have continued the registered Hereford operation under White Mountain Hereford and produce and sell registered Hereford bulls and cows for seedstock producers in the southwest. We also produce a good number of Black Baldy heifers, which we proudly place in beef operations around Arizona and New Mexico.
What kind of conservation work have you done on your operation?

We have done a great deal on the family ranch and other ranches we are involved with. We started off doing prescribed grazing management along with some small rock and brush structures to combat soil erosion. Since then, we have implemented fencing, wells, water developments, major soil erosion control projects, and large Grassland Restoration projects concerning juniper control. 

What, in terms of conservation work, is next for your operation?

We are looking at participating in the Conservation Stewardship Program, and we continue to implement conservation practices on our existing ranches and as we continue to work on new properties, adding to our acreage. We have found that conservation is a never-ending job, as maintenance and new challenges come along constantly.
What sort of technologies have you implemented on your ranch and how have they changed over the years?

We have converted to solar power to help sustain a constant supply of water to our livestock and wildlife on the ranches. We have also used satellite mapping to view brush densities across the ranches and identify where we need to concentrate our grassland restoration efforts.
How long have you been involved with NRCDs?

I have been involved with NRCDs for 28 years. I was recruited to be involved with the Apache NRCD when I was in high school by former Board Member Robert Holland and former Chairman Don Colter. I was considered their “youth advisor”. This helped teach me the importance of NRCDs at a very early age (compared to the normal age of many supervisors who made up NRCD Boards at that time). I was able to take the knowledge and assistance I gained from being a youth advisor and implement them on our family ranch. 

Why did you get involved with NRCDs?

I thought that by being involved with my local NRCD I would learn many things about range management and what would benefit our ranch from that knowledge. My learning was just the beginning. I became aware of the influence that being on the board could have over all the natural resources in our District. This evolved to being involved on the State level, which led to understanding the roll NRCDs play in influencing things on the national level, like natural resource policy and provisions in the Farm Bill.
What changes have you seen in the Apache NRCD since you joined?

I believe the biggest change I have experienced in the Apache NRCD since I have been involved has been the amount of money that has gone to conservation in our District, and all around the State actually. The Apache NRCD did have a special legislative appropriation when I first was involved in the late 1980s to address a special natural resource concern, but since then the District has increased the funding footprint of conservation on the ground to over several million. Partnerships with other organizations and agencies have helped spur this funding on as well.

What is your favorite thing about being involved with NRCDs? 

My favorite thing about the NRCD is the influence we can have on the natural resources in our local area. We are also able to more closely collaborate and partner with other state and federal agencies to make a conservation footprint across multiple landscapes and management jurisdictions. Also, in working with state and national organizations, we can help influence the Conservation Title of the Farm Bills and how best to help producers implement conservation across the State of Arizona and the Southwest in general.
Thank you Daric Knight!
Conservation Stewardship Program and Educational Workshops for Your Local Producers
In partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the AACD has held, and will be holding, educational workshops for producers and cooperators in conjunction with the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). 

Since February, we have held three educational workshops. Each of these events centered around topics of interest to producers in the areas in which they were held. Attendees heard about the various funding programs and tools available to them, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Wildlife Program and the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ Water Protection Fund. They also received an overview of CSP, and how the 2018 Farm Bill has changed the program to make it inclusive of public lands, thus making it available to more producers in the Western states.
The first workshop held was in Kingman, where we partnered with Big Sandy NRCD and the NRCS-Kingman field office District Conservationist (DC) to host 34 people at our "Programs and Grants for Farmers and Ranchers” workshop. Held in Prescott, in partnership with the Triangle and Chino Winds NRCDs and their respective DCs, our second workshop, "NRCS and FSA Program for Ranchers and Public Lands”, had 19 participants. Workshop number three focused on "Program, Grants, and Tools for Farmers and Ranchers” and featured a discussion on soil health. The workshop was held in Willcox for 44 attendees, where we co-hosted with the Willcox-San Simon NRCD and their local DC.

If you would like to hold a workshop in your area, please reach out to the AACD’s Conservation Education Coordinator, Sharma Torrens at  or 602-540-5331. Please keep in mind, that due to the current COVID-19 epidemic, a temporary hold has been placed on large group gatherings, and thus our ability to hold these workshops. However, we remain hopeful that soon the AACD can again engage in these efforts to help the NRCDs and their producers. Once we are given the okay to hold meetings again, the AACD will be looking to hold 3-5 workshop/month. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sharma about workshop topics that would interest your producers or to find out more about CSP. 
Using Videos to Educate the Public
Many organizations are utilizing social media to spread their message, and AACD is no different. Besides our Instagram and Facebook pages (which we hope all of you are on!), we’ve started a campaign to create informational videos in order to educate the public about NRCDs and local producers. The goal is to teach the general public the truth about how producers in the state are working for the environment and not against it, as a majority of people think. This includes highlighting sustainable agriculture practices and on-the-ground conservation efforts of wildlife habitat, open spaces, water, soil, etc. Highlighting these efforts will appeal to conservation groups, agriculture-focused entities, and those working in the food realm (e.g. food banks; organizations focused on composting and reducing food waste; local food buying; and more) while sharing our Districts’ stories.

Outreach and Marketing Coordinator Brooke Gladden has established a YouTube “channel” where we will post these videos, as well as on the AACD website. Each video will highlight a District Supervisor and delve into the great conservation work they do, as well as the environmental benefits of farming and ranching. Our first video was made in partnership with the AZ Cattle Growers Association (other partners for future videos may include the AZ Farm Bureau, Agribusiness Water Council, Local First of AZ, etc.), and featured Triangle NRCD Supervisor Shelly Blackmore. The video is currently in post-production, so keep an eye out in our weekly updates to find out when it’s live!

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we had one more video lined up for production. This is currently on hold. However, we will resume our efforts as soon as possible, so if you are interested in having your farm/ranch/District highlighted in one of these important educational videos, please reach out to AACD Conservation Education Director Sharma Torrens at  or 602-540-5331.
Arizona Association
of Conservation Districts
7467 E. Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85710
Have a story you would like to share in our next newsletter?

Contact: Brooke Gladden
(520) 668-3348
"Conserving Agriculture and Natural Resources Since 1944"