By Bryan Evans, North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Executive Director
Note from the editor: North Carolina serves on the District Operations/Member Services Committee. The committee has decided to return the focus of “Did You Know?” content to elements of District Official Training and/or District Operations. The information below does not pertain solely to North Carolina – all conservation districts can do this, too!
In our state, we have 100 counties served by 96 soil and water conservation districts. Each district has five supervisors; three elected on the general ballot and two appointed by our soil and water conservation commission. There are five counties with have four supervisors, giving us a total of 492 elected or appointed supervisors statewide.
For years, the commission has required appointed supervisors to attend a six-hour School of Government training within one year of appointment. This training is offered annually and is recommended for all supervisors. It is also recommended to be attended at least every five years. To date, this has been our state’s only training requirement for soil and water conservation supervisors.
In 2016, North Carolina passed state legislation that requires soil and water conservation supervisors to obtain six hours of continuing education hours annually, referred to as Supervisor Training Credits (STCs).
The legislation gives authority to the commission to develop and administer this requirement. At this point, the commission has implemented a pilot program identifying eight districts to participate in its development. These pilot districts will work to go through the process of obtaining approved trainings, submitting training logs, and proposing requests for trainings to be approved for credit.
As we work through this pilot in 2018, the commission will identify the parts of the program that will need improvement to assure that the process is seamless and minimally burdensome to supervisors who volunteer their time to promote and implement conservation practices.
As we move through the development of this program, the commission has committed to flexibility to insure that the requirement is obtainable. Working with the State Division of Soil and Water Conservation and the State Association, online trainings and resources will allow for greater access to training and management. At the end of 2018, the program will be evaluated before a full roll out to all 96 districts.