Last week, NACD submitted public comments to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on the interim Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) rule.
RCPP was first created in the 2014 Farm Bill, and conservation districts across the country have successfully applied for, partnered with and led a large portion of all projects since the program’s inception. The proposed RCPP rule implements changes Congress included in the 2018 Farm Bill. After receiving feedback from its members,
NACD advocated for several changes and revisions to the law
to ensure conservation districts and the locally-led conservation delivery process are prominent fixtures throughout the life of a project, from application to completion.
“Conservation districts should play an even larger role than they previously had in the implementation of RCPP projects,”
NACD President Tim Palmer said. “Their history of working together with local landowners, NRCS and partners in the conservation delivery system will only help to further leverage project funds needed to protect our nation’s natural resources.”
NACD’s comments emphasized Congress’s request that conservation districts serve a larger role during the creation of a project in order to ensure local natural resource needs are being addressed in each project and expressed NACD’s support for the successful locally-led conservation delivery system that landowners have known and trusted for decades.
“We appreciate NRCS continuing to support the locally-led conservation delivery system and look forward to the agency continuing to support the local decision-making process that conservation districts often lead,”
AT-HOME CONSERVATION LEARNING
Because of COVID-19 (coronavirus), many families in communities across the country find themselves at home in isolation or in self-distancing situations. This can provide many challenges for parents and teachers who are trying to continue their children’s education and keep them occupied in ways that are both engaging and constructive.
This is where NACD and conservation districts can assist parents and teachers by providing quality conservation education materials. Every year, NACD provides free educational materials on
. Conservation districts can reach out to their communities through their newsletters, websites and Facebook pages to share this material and supplement these resources with educational videos and posts.
NACD's educational materials focus on a variety of conservation-related topics, including soil, water, habitat, trees and pollinators. Activity books for grades K–8 are all available to download and print
at home. The educator’s guide also has crossword puzzles, spelling challenges, word searches and coloring pages to compliment the lessons.
In addition to the Marketplace, you can also find all these educational materials on NACD's newest platform, the
Conservation Education Hub
, which also includes a link to
Partner Classroom Resources
. These resources are
divided up into different subjects such as soil health, wildlife, pollinators, general conservation, forestry and watersheds.
While our regular classrooms and schedules may be disrupted, NACD and conservation districts are here to assist in providing educational opportunities in communities across the country. Please be sure to visit your local conservation district’s Facebook page or website and download your free educational materials on NACD's website today.
ENGINEERING TA BOOSTS CONSERVATION PRACTICES IN STEARNS COUNTY, MINNESOTA
Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District
(SWCD) in Minnesota was able to hire
as their soil and water engineer-in-training thanks to an
NACD Technical Assistance (TA) Grant
. The district had previously been lacking the technical support for conservation practices that required engineering tasks such as surveying and design.
is very thankful for the opportunity the 2018 TA Grant provided.
“It was used to bring on a new generation of professionals to ensure that skills, expertise and relationships are available locally to implement voluntary conservation projects,”
Since joining the team, Greve has assisted with designs for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)-eligible practices, including grassed waterways, alternative inlets, manure management and sediment control basins.
“Landowners are really short on time to spend with us because they have so many demands on their time,”
. “Having a person like Mark join our team to provide that engineering assistance in a way that is very farmer-friendly has been a great way to provide technical assistance in a way that ensures they actually enjoy working with us.”
Greve has been able to provide assistance to landowners interested in the
Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
(MAWQCP), a program that recognizes landowners who worked to protect their surface waters and groundwater. Through the assessment of a landowner’s property, conservation practices that could improve water quality are identified. Some of these practices might require engineering assistance, which Greve provides, such as rock inlets or buffers for waterways.
Producers subject to the
Minnesota Buffer Law
have also received assistance from Greve to implement conservation practices along their public waterways. A practice frequently implemented has been a controlled tile inlet, which filters and slows surface water entering the inlet. Greve’s assistance has caused some landowners to become more open to conservation practices.
OHIO SWCD TRANSITIONS DURING PANDEMIC TO MEET THE NEEDS OF
Initially, the grant was secured with the plans to conduct monthly hands-on educational visits to seven Head Start classes this spring, as well as partnering with local FFA chapters to build raised beds for the Head Start centers’ gardens beginning in April. When Ohio closed all public schools and daycares in response to COVID-19, Ashland SWCD switched gears.
The funds helped hire Urban and Education Specialist
Becca Vales, who, although hired in the midst of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, hit the ground running with online lessons and social media posts.
Vales developed printed materials for Head Start programs, which the teachers could send to students’ homes every two weeks. This was also supplemented with a "#TeacherTuesday" video series, where students can tune in and follow along with the lessons and programs.
“This is not the way we anticipated launching our grant programming, and the topics we’re covering are not necessarily the same topics we would have covered in the classroom as we prepared to install raised bed gardens,"
Ashland SWCD Program Administrator Jane Houin said. "But I feel like we’ve turned lemons into lemonade.”
“We could have thrown our hands up and said, ‘we just can’t do it right now,’ but instead, Becca and the rest of our staff have gone above and beyond to continue to connect with those students and teachers, and the feedback has been fabulous,”
Head Start centers in surrounding counties, parents doing home-schooling activities, and teachers in the local and surrounding public schools are all requesting, accessing and sharing the videos, resulting in thousands of hits, she said.
For the tree sale this year, they gave each of the 107 Head Start students an apple tree seedling. The conservation district also distributed an additional 583 seedlings to students and teachers who drove through for Arbor Day, along with a learning packet of information on trees to connect with one of Vales’s April lessons.
Houin said the district plans on moving forward with the initial plans in the fall, and the FFA chapters will still create raised beds. But in the meantime, they are reaching, educating and connecting with more students and people than they ever imagined.
“I really just could not be more proud of our staff and the way they’ve adapted to meet the needs of our community during this challenging time,”
Houin said. “We’ve forged stronger relationships with our teachers and community members, and we’ve connected with such a large number of people who now know [about] Ashland SWCD and at least a little bit about what we do, and they know we care about our community and meeting our community needs.”
D.C. Office Closed
Until June 8
NACD’s Washington, D.C. office will remain closed with staff teleworking until Monday, June 8 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
NACD wants to ensure the continuity of normal business operations, and you can reach NACD staff during regular business hours as usual via email or by calling the main line: (202) 547-NACD. We will continue to update our members on any changes during this time.
NACD Offices Closed for Memorial Day
NACD's offices will be closed
Monday, May 25, in observance of Memorial Day to remember and honor those who have died serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Deadline Approaches: NACD 2020
TA Grants RFP
The deadline to submit proposals for NACD’s current round of Technical Assistance (TA) Grants is only two weeks away! Submissions are due
Monday, June 1, 2020 at
11:59 p.m. Eastern.
All proposals must be reviewed and ranked by your state/territory conservation partnership leaders, who may be requesting your information by a date prior to NACD's submission date in order to have time for their review, so please communicate with your state/territory association office if interested in applying.
As with previous years, this year’s TA Grants are made possible through a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This agreement allows NACD to provide an opportunity to work together to serve our customers in the highest workload areas with additional boots on the ground.
Names Winning Envirothon Team
Congratulations to the
Hot Springs High School team
from Truth or Consequences Providence for winning the New Mexico state Envirothon competition held virtually from May 8-9.
was a total of six teams from northern and southern New Mexico. The New Mexico state Envirothon would like to thank all of its conservation partnership agency volunteers, teachers and student participants for making this event possible.
Stay tuned to eResource for more team announcements, and please submit any Envirothon news and photos to NCF-Envirothon Program Manager
Sign Up for
NACD's Daily Roundup
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Sign up for NACD's Daily Roundup, a daily publication that provides the latest conservation updates and news. Roundup is available Monday through Thursday–
log into your NACD account
Sign up for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program's 2020 Webinar Series today!
Held monthly, these webinars showcase best practices and lessons learned from REPI partnerships nationwide that support military missions and accelerate the pace of conservation. All webinars begin at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. The next webinar, scheduled for
Wednesday, June 17
, will focus on leveraging a geographic information system (GIS) to identify new partner opportunities.
Save the Date:
Water and Resources Monitoring Workshop
Mount Sopris and
South Side Conservation Districts (CD) in Colorado, in partnership with Holy Cross Cattlemen's Association and the Colorado Ag Water Alliance Alliance, invite you to attend a virtual workshop on water and resource monitoring.
From watershed and stream management planning to range monitoring, the workshop will feature several presentations and discussions on the state's most pressing natural resource issues.
The free workshop will be held from
1:00-4:00 p.m. Mountain time
Thursday, June 11, 2020
. To RSVP,
Promote your conservation district or state association's tree sale, annual meeting, webinar, field day or more on NACD's
Calendar of Events