In 2019, the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD) launched a new Online Supervisor and Staff Training program. The state was recognized for developing and implementing a statewide District Officials Training Program (DOTP) for the first time at the 2020 NACD Annual Meeting. To be recognized, GACD self-assessed that their new program covers all 15 categories of training and 50 percent of the recommended training elements identified by NACD and the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA).
NACD recently spoke with Katie Sponberger, GACD executive director, to learn more about how online training is going for their supervisors and staff, especially since COVID-19 (coronavirus) has forced so many events and training sessions online. Together with the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, GACD will also host a Virtual Supervisor and Staff Training on both Nov. 5 and 12, 2020, using these online modules.
What did Georgia’s district official training look like before it went online?
Our online supervisor and staff training program launched in the spring of 2019. GACD previously only offered in-person training options that included a statewide annual meeting where all the districts converge, as well as group trainings in the different regions of the state. We are excited to add an online component to our continuing education!
How have supervisors responded to the online training?
Supervisors appreciate that they can do the online training at their own pace. Some districts even review the modules together during district meetings, which encourages group discussion and participation.
How many supervisors have completed the training so far?
We have had around 60 supervisors and staff complete the training.
Has the online training been useful during COVID-19? If so, how?
Our online training program has been useful during COVID-19, because it allows us to train all of our new staff remotely. This is helpful in preparing our workforce to serve our conservation districts and partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Is the online training also being paired with in-person training at events?
Yes. We have been able to review modules in-person at our group trainings. Supervisors enjoy actively participating in reviewing the content and answering the questions together.
The online supervisor training includes quizzes with each module. Was this a new addition to training? What feedback have you received from supervisors about the quizzes?
Our online training is new, and we did not offer any online training options before; only in-person annual meetings and group trainings. The supervisors appreciate the quizzes, because it allows them to review everything they just learned. If the supervisors do not make a passing grade on the quiz, they can retake it for credit. Supervisors have to pass all the quizzes in order to get credit for completing our training program.
Do you have any plans for future enhancements to the online training?
We are continuously updating our training to include new initiatives and projects we are working on.