Newsletter Highlights:
  • Meet Your Local Conservationists: The Garcias
  • Featured District: AACD Attends NACD's Annual Meeting
  • Conservation Corner: Stocking Rates
  • Conservation Education Spotlight: AZ Ed Center Directors Attend Eco-Schools Training
February 2021 Newsletter
Conserve. Grow. Live.
Meet Your Local Conservationists
The Garcias
Article submitted by Joanne M. Roberts, Hereford NRCD Clerk*
Edited by AACD
Micah and Jenny Garcia had a dream of owning and running a small family farm while providing their growing family with home grown meat and dairy products. With the help of their family and hard work they are doing just that.

Micah comes from a generational landowner with rangeland and agricultural fields in Palominas and Jenny comes from a generational dairy family that relocated from Pennsylvania to Elfrida when she was a young girl. The family land that Micah and Jenny are now moving cattle and producing forage on has been in his family for over 100 years but has not produced in over 50 years. Owing to the old philosophy that commercial ranching would not pay off, Micah’s family simply left the land unattended until two years ago. It was at that time the Garcias decided to take the journey to sustainable ranching. First, they looked to their own pork and beef needs, then they had a larger vision to produce meat products for the public. That is how I personally found out about Coyote Song Farm. My husband was at a local farmer’s market when he came across the Garcia’s product. It could be a coincidence, but I do not generally believe in coincidences. Working with the Hereford NRCD Board of Supervisors, it was a natural fit for me to contact the Garcias to learn more about their business and how the District could play a role in their long-term strategy for success.
Micah and Jenny have embraced rotational grazing management and regenerative agriculture practices. Much of what they have learned about biomimicry strategies and the principles of Agroecology such as crop production, soil control, soil management, and water quality began from studying the teachings of Ray Archuleta, a retired NRCS Certified Professional Soil Scientist. (Mr. Archuleta retired after 30 years working in livestock sciences as a livestock specialist as well as an NRCS Conservation Agronomist.) Putting into practice what they learned, while continuing to understand the concepts and practices of sustainable yield, Micah initiated a rotational grazing regimen. Finding the right balance between his herd size and his available forage is essential to good grazing management. Micah starts with five cows per four acres and adjusts according to seasonally available monthly forage as well as annual forage production. Annual production varies based on natural conditions, and the Garcias also irrigate their agricultural fields to maintain available forage throughout the year. For healthier livestock and ultimately a healthier meat product, the Garcias use natural insect repellents to minimize introducing harmful insecticides into the environment. In addition, they plant favorable cover crops seasonally to improve soil nutrients, biodiversity, water filtration, and to sequester CO2 in the soil.
Although relatively new to running their cow/calf and sow/piglet operation, Micah and Jenny have already seen the environmental benefits of their hard work and management decisions as well as the rewards of providing a healthier product to their family and to the public. Successes such as finding the right butcher for beef and pork and an increase in demand for their products, as well as dreams of expanding to a steer operation, are a few ways that reinforce their decision to run a small family farm. Additionally, they are working with the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network, in which the Hereford NRCD is a key partner, to establish grazing allotments at the Three Canyons Stormwater and Effluent Recharge Project area. All these efforts and others demonstrate their commitment to themselves, their family, and to the public. The Hereford NRCD is here to work with landowners like the Garcias to provide assistance and expertise to achieve conservation of natural resources while maintaining economic viability for this way of life.

*Interviews with Micah and Jenny conducted by Joanne M. Roberts on sight, 20 Oct 2020, 26 Oct 2020, and 4 Nov 2020. Article reviewed by the Garcias and approved as written, 9 Dec 2020.
Thank you, Garcia Family!
Featured District
AACD Attends NACD's Annual Meeting
Pictured above: AACD President Frank Krentz attending the NACD Meeting, Virtually
Every year the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) holds an Annual Meeting where members from the 3,000 Conservation Districts across the U.S. gather to attend business meetings and informative breakout sessions, listen to guest speakers, observe conservation district and district official recognition, and hear national updates. This year, NACD held its Annual Meeting virtually spread over eight days. Arizona’s Conservation Districts are always an active participant in this meeting, and this year, despite it being online, was no different. AACD President Frank Krentz reflects on the event here in our brief interview. 
There were several breakout sessions throughout the event, which were your top three favorites?

The three sessions that stood out to me that I attended were: 

  • “Collaborative Efforts for Natural Resource Management” which talked about how to engage agencies and work together to get conservation on the ground.
  •  “Pathway of Water Quality” which talked about what best management practices help improve water quality like reducing pesticides, cover crops, etc.
  •  “Seeing Beyond Roadblocks: Serving Your Entire Community” which talked about how to engage other communities and how to represent everyone at the “conservation table.” 

What were some lessons learned from these sessions that you’re going to bring back to Arizona? 

It’s clear that soil health is becoming an important issue – not just in the realm of conservation, but in the private sector too. There’s a big push coming from the public sphere to promote soil health; this will be big. What’s exciting is that we’re already working on wording to add to the statutes of the Districts that enable them to promote soil health practices to conserve Arizona’s natural resources. 

What are a few pros/cons that stand out to you from the event?

Because of the digital format of the meeting, the general sessions were all pre-recorded. Which allowed meeting participants to watch on their own time, however, it was a bit sad in the case of the award presentations because it lacked the usual social interaction and congratulatory opportunities of in-person events of the past.

The policy groups and committee meetings ran well, and everyone was able to communicate their thoughts. I think that the process has been refined by supervisors who have had the year to adjust to the use of virtual platforms.
AACD participation at the national level means we remain informed leaders, brining the latest and greatest in the nation back to the state and local level: technology, top-of-mind topics, and more. It also gives Arizona a chance to bring its state- and local-level concerns to a national platform. Participating at the national level gives all of Arizona’s Conservation Districts a voice.  
Conservation Corner
Stocking Rates
Written by Dr. E. Lamar Smith, Ph.D., for the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
Some say that proper stocking rate is the most important consideration in good range management. But what is “proper” stocking rate? There is not a simple answer because what is “proper” depends on how we measure it.
Conservation Education Spotlight
AZ Ed Center Directors Attend Eco-Schools Training
Conservation education happens at any age. This is something that as producers and conservationists, Arizona’s Conservation District and Conservation Education Center members strive to exemplify. An example of continued learning can be seen in the recent participation in the National Wildlife Foundation’s Eco-Schools Program online training attended by three Conservation Education Center Directors – Jennifer Salcido, West Pinal/Eloy/Florence-Coolidge NRCDs; Linda Dee Diamontes, Agua Fria-New River/Buckeye Valley NRCDs; and Carson Snow, Yuma/Laguna NRCDs – and AACD’s Conservation Education Director, Sharma Torrens. The Eco-Schools Program training is an integral part of the recent Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education (EPA EE) Grant awarded to the AACD. Other training participants included AACD partners from the Arizona Wildlife Federation, the Arizona Association of Environmental Education, and the Mollen Foundation. 

The training was an overview of the Eco-Schools’ 12 Pathways to Sustainability and the 7 Step Framework to implement the Eco-Schools Program in schools. From this overview, an in-depth look at all the Pathways will be recorded and provided to the 12 schools participating in the Grant program with our partners. The AACD will also develop what we’re calling “Conservation Pathways,” using the 12 Pathways and 7 Step Framework as a guide. Our goal is to have each Conservation Education Center visit (virtually or in person) 300+ classrooms in one school year, doubling last year’s average, and to have each Conservation District hold adult workshops about conservation best practices based on regional areas of the state and highlighting best practices for water conservation and soil health. 
While They May Not Be Valentine Cards, You Sure Can Feel the Love in these Thank Yous!
AACD Executive Committee members and Conservation District Supervisors, will often engage with the public to talk about their farms or ranches. Topics often include operations, conservation practices, conservation challenges, etc. You can tell from these thank you notes to AACD 1st VP Mark Kuechel from ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems representatives that as Arizona’s original conservationists, we make a significant impact! Thanks for sharing, Mark!  
Please visit our website to learn more about AACD and the Districts, discover the important conservation work they do, and support them today!
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 Arizona Since 1944"