2017 Annual Meeting Breakout Sessions

Please click on the linked names of the presenters to view their presentations

Monday, January 30
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM NACD Soil Health Champions: How they achieve soil health and spread the message
A panel of NACD Soil Health Champions will highlight the soil health practices they’ve used in their own operations, present on their experiences and lessons learned, and share the community outreach efforts they’ve participated in or led in this interactive breakout session. The presentation will also include the economics of soil health from a farm perspective, based on the results from four farm case studies. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask the presenters questions at the close of the session.

Moderator: Beth Mason, NACD

Presenters: Steven Darcey, Upper Marlboro, Maryland;
Ron Snyder, Pemberville, Ohio;
Keith Berns, Bladen, Nebraska;
Brendon Rockey, Center, Colorado
Rui Chen, Datu Research, North Carolina

Forestry health in action
Wildfires threaten the economic vitality of our local communities across the country, but luckily, conservation districts can play a key role in coordinating local landowners and various local, state, and national agencies to better manage forest resources and mitigate the damage caused by wildfires. Attend this session to hear from the Fremont Conservation District of Colorado and the Taos Soil and Water Conservation District of New Mexico on how they work with local partners and private landowners to protect and enhance healthy forests in their communities.

Moderator: Coleta Bratten, NCDEA

Presenters: Debbie Mitchell (click to view presentation), district manager, Fremont CD;
Rick Romano, district conservationist, NRCS;
Ed Skerjanec, fire mitigation specialist, BLM;
Kurt Swearingen (click to view presentation), Taos SWCD forestry consultant

Engaging your community’s youth
Engaging students in our communities is a great way to ensure tomorrow’s leaders understand the benefits of being a good steward of the land. The Rapides SWCD of Louisiana conducts youth outreach through school gardens to promote good conservation practices. The Campbell CD of Wyoming partners with two other conservation districts to host hands-on, natural resources summer camps for young people.

Moderator: Rhonda Bryars, NCDEA

Presenters: Brenda Archer (click to view presentation), Rapides SWCD;
Frances Boudreaux, The Good Food Project;
Crystal Kellebrew (click to view presentation), education coordinator, Campbell County CD

NRCS Conservation Planning boot camp stories: How you can get involved
NACD partners with NRCS to give district employees access to the agency’s Conservation Planning Boot Camp, a three-week intensive training program that takes place in Lincoln, Nebraska. This breakout session will provide information on the training’s curriculum and prerequisites and how it can help district employees become certified conservation planners. NACD and NRCS agreed to continue the agreement for five more years, so there are plenty of opportunities to participate.

Moderator: Tim Riley, NCDEA

Presenters: Caitlin Hansen, Olney Boone and East Otero CDs, Colorado;
John Morrow, Washington County SWCD, Tennessee;
James Kettle, West Greeley CD, Tennessee

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Pathways to Water Quality
Systems for trading water quality credits between point- and nonpoint-sources is an emerging – and exciting – strategy for addressing water quality concerns. NACD and American Farm Land Trust explored the positives and negatives of these systems in 10 case studies from districts around the country. This session will detail their findings, in addition to AFT’s “lessons learned” from its Water Quality Targeting Success Stories report, which looked at watershed-scale farm conservation projects.

Moderator: Bill Berry, NACD

Presenters: Brian Brandt, American Farmland Trust;
Michelle Perez, American Farmland Trust

Mitigating invasive species and maintaining sustainable rangelands
No description is available at this time.

Moderator: Jeff Parker, NCDEA

Presenters: Kristie Maczko (click to view presentation), PhD, executive director of Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable and research scientist at the University of Wyoming

Public relations in conservation: A must have, not a want to
Find out how Nebraska’s natural resources districts are using new and productive public relations methods to spread their conservation message, not only to farmers and ranchers, but urban communities as well. This session will dive into the state’s social media strategy, agency partnerships, and use of video. There will also be a pointed presentation on press release writing and a short how-to course in cultivating and maintaining relationships with members of the press.

Moderator: Whitney Forman-Cook (click to view presentation), NACD

Presenter: Erika Hill (click to view presentation), PR director, Nebraska Association of Resource Districts

Districts’ work with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
USDA’s RCPP, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provided a unique and innovative way for conservation districts to collaborate with new partners to improve natural resource outcomes. You will hear two examples of RCPP projects – one led by the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts and the other by the Spokane Conservation Districts in Washington – and the ways these projects have allowed districts to work outside traditional conservation programs.

Moderator: Melissa Higbee, NCDEA

Presenters: Norman Vigil, program manager-resources conservationist, NMACD; Walt Edelen (click to view presentation), water resources manager, Spokane CD;
Ty Meyer (click to view presentation), production ag manager, Spokane CD


Tuesday, January 31
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Seal the deal: Using bridge financing to complete conservation projects
Sometimes conservation districts don’t have the cash on hand. Other times, they aren’t able to identify, apply for, and receive grants fast enough. Other times still, donations don’t come through, or districts are limited by reimbursable grants. In these instances when a high-priority conservation property or conservation project is on the line, an opportunity is lost for conservation districts. This workshop will help district professionals understand how they can use bridge financing and other tools and techniques to complete their priority conservation projects.

Moderator: Vlynda Parker, Steuben County SWCD

Presenters: Reggie Hall, director, Land Conservation Loan Program; Caitlin Guthrie, associate, Land Conservation Loan Program

Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool: Door to a Conservation Conversation
Voluntary Resource Stewardship Evaluations (RSEs) help land managers assess their conservation achievements and where they may be able to make resource improvements on working lands. NRCS employees and conservation districts can use RSE to develop comprehensive conservation plans for landowners. Come hear from NRCS how your district can use RSE to recognize good stewardship and better conserve the natural resources in your community.

Moderator: Bill Berry, NACD

Presenters: Aaron Lauster, NRCS;
Diane Gelburd, NRCS;
Marin Adkins, NRCS;

Improving soil health through innovation, new technology, and partnerships
In this breakout, attendees will learn how the Delaware Soil Health Partnership and the Sussex Conservation District in Delaware utilize partnerships and new technology to promote soil health practices. This session will also include a panel discussion with NACD Soil Health Champions from Delaware and farmers Mike Willeke and Ryan Shanks, the owners of Buckeye Soil Solutions (a Sussex CD partner).

Moderator: David Baird, Sussex CD

Presenters: Debbie Absher (click to view presentation), director of ag programs, Sussex CD;
David Baird, district coordinator, Sussex CD;
DE Soil Health Champions Jay Baxter and Brad Ritter;
Mike Willeke, Buckeye Soil Solutions;
Ryan Shanks, Buckeye Soil Solutions;
Ohio Soil Health Champion David Brandt

How to accomplish more with existing and new partnerships
This breakout session will include presentations from the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana on three partnership programs they have developed to assist local districts and landowners in meeting their resource needs and goals. You’ll also hear from the East Multnomah SWCD in Oregon on how they use collaborative partnerships to accomplish large scale restoration activities in urbanized watersheds; and from the National Association of RC&D Councils, a member-based organization with programs and services designed to help increase natural resource conservation and community economic development.

Moderator: Rhonda Kelsch, NCDEA

Presenters: Ann McCauley, associate director, SWCDs of MT;
East Multnomah SWCD: Lucas Nipp, senior rural conservationist;
Olga Walter, president, NARC&DC;
Robert Harbison, co-legislative liaison, NARC&DC;
Andrew Gordon, CEO, NARC&DC

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM State forest action plans: What conservation districts need to know
The 2008 Farm Bill made Forest Action Plans the guiding forestry planning documents for states across the country. This session will help attendees gain an understanding of how these plans are shaped, how they affect projects and priorities within states, and how conservation districts might get involved in their creation.

Moderator: Mike Beacom, NACD

Presenters: Mike Lester (click to view presentation), Colorado state forester and Joint Forestry Team representative; Bill Crapser (click to view presentation), Wyoming state forester and National Association of State Foresters president

Urban mapping with GIS and preparing for future water quality regulations
Attendees will hear how Ohio’s Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District has used NRCS Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in urbanized areas to coordinate conservation efforts with other agencies and municipalities. Additionally, Colorado-based experts will present on the state’s potential regulation for nitrogen and phosphorus in agricultural operations, informing agricultural producers on the issue and discussing what can be done to educate regulators and encourage participation in the decision-making process.

Moderator: Irene Moore, NCDEA

Presenters: Josh Garver (click to view presentation), assistant director, Franklin SWCD;
Jennifer Fish, director, Franklin SWCD;
Andrew Neuhart (click to view presentation), Colorado Monitoring Framework
Mark Sponsler, Colorado Corn;
Bill Hammerich, Colorado Livestock Association

You’ve got a board, but is it effective? Ways to energize your board and solicit power directors
Your district board of directors meets regularly, but are you really doing anything? This session will give attendees tools to energize their boards and make them more effective problem-solving bodies. Attendees will learn about the importance of strategy setting sessions, understanding the purpose of a board matrix, and how to access their networks to look for diverse board member candidates.
Presenter: Nikki McCord, founder, McCord Consulting Group
A collaborative national strategy to manage feral swine impacts in the U.S.
Feral swine are a harmful and destructive invasive species with a rapidly expanding geographic range and population that pose big problems for conservation areas and natural habitats. The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has developed a national response to reduce, and where possible eliminate, the damages caused by feral swine. This strategy provides resources and expertise at a national level, while allowing local land managers flexibility to manage in ways that make sense for them and their communities. Collaboration with other federal, state, tribal, and local entities, along with landowners and others experiencing damage, is essential to curb the spread of feral swine and suppress populations.

Moderator: Wendy Anderson (click to view presentation), APHIS

Presenters: Dwight LeBlanc, wildlife services state director – Louisiana, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services;
Mike Hoy, district supervisor & feral swine coordinator – Arkansas, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services


Wednesday, February 1
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Healthy soils for healthy waters symposium
Sponsored by KB Seed Solutions, Green Cover Seeds, Exactix Global Systems
This panel of crop consultants, soil health experts, academics, and producers from around the country will address sustainable management of U.S. waters essential to agricultural and working lands. The panelists will discuss the efficacy of commonly used water conservation practices – including nutrient management, no-till, cover crops, water management, and precision agriculture – and how regulations and policies influence our ability to protect and enhance fresh water resources.

Moderator: Randall Reeder, OSU

Invited presenters: Brian Richter, chief water scientist for The Nature Conservancy (keynote);
Joe Nester, crop consultant with Nester Ag;
Jeff Mitchell, cropping systems specialist with University of California-Extension;
Paul Jasa, extension engineer at University of Nebraska;
John Aeschliman, Washington producer;
Keith Thompson, Kansas producer;

Barry Fisher, soil health specialist with USDA NRCS;
Mike Daniels, extension water quality and nutrient management, University of Arkansas

Conservation in your community: NACD’s urban grant initiative
In July of 2016, NACD partnered with NRCS to award $2 million in grants to 42 conservation districts in 25 states to boost technical assistance capacity for urban agriculture conservation projects. This symposium will feature a discussion with seven of the initiative’s grant recipients and detail the progress they have made in addressing their communities’ unique natural resource concerns.

Moderator: Ron Rohall, NACD Urban and Community RPG

Presenters: Shino Tanikawa (click to view presentation), executive director, NYC SWCD;
Ann Baldridge (click to view presentation), program manager, RCD of Greater San Diego County;
Casey Cox (click to view presentation), executive director, Flint River SWCD;
Mark Proctor, chairman, Board of Supervisors, Hillsborough SWCD;
Betty Jo Tompkins, executive director, Hillsborough SWCD;
Mike Dupree (click to view presentation), agribusiness and environmental services manager, Durham SWCD;
Amy Jenkin (click to view presentation), OCS teacher, Durham SWCD;
Janine Rybka (click to view presentation), district administrator, Cuyahoga SWCD;
Jonathan Burgess (click to view presentation), senior agriculture conservationist, Allegheny CD

NCDEA Symposium: The importance of training and orientation to conservation delivery
This session will provide  examples of training programs that have effectively prepared district employees, supervisors, and officials for carrying out critical, locally-led conservation work in districts across the United States.

Moderator: Carolyn Kelly, NCDEA

Presenters: Irene Moore, NCDEA past-president, Jefferson County SWCD, Ohio;
Rhonda Kelsch, NCDEA secretary, ND Emmons County CD, North Dakota;
Melissa Higbee, NCDEA treasurer, executive director, Shiawassee CD, Michigan;
Jeff Parker, NCDEA board member, district manager, Steuben County SWCD, New York
Vlynda Parker, district secretary, Steuben County SWCD, New York


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