John Redding, NACD Past President and National Conservation Foundation (NCF) Treasurer, began his career as an agriculture teacher. In 1978, after nine years, he became a part of his local conservation district’s board.
Redding has served in many different capacities for other conservation organizations as well, including the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts and NACD. He has served on NACD’s Board of Directors and held the offices of NACD secretary-treasurer and president.
Redding recently spoke with NACD about NCF and NACD, their goals and their legacy.
Why is supporting NACD important to you?
The reason I think it’s so important is because we have so few people that are connected with farming anymore. Most people have been away from the farm for one, two, three and sometimes four generations. So, they have no understanding of how important that top six inches of soil is.
“The farmers already know how important it is. It is the general public that’s got to understand how important it is to take care of our natural resources.”
Why is supporting NCF important to you?
I believe the two things that we are working on right now, the Envirothon and the Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) program, are so critically important.
To me, the new program that we started, NGLI, is extremely important, because we need to have future leaders that totally understand the importance of conservation, and not just from a casual kind of situation. I think that we can grow leaders that will make NACD much stronger. When we started talking about the program, the one thing that I said was that we don’t need old folks like me in the next leadership program – we need potential leaders. We need the average age to be 35. I think that’s important, because if we don’t have that, we won’t have programs that are fully functional.
Why do you think that education is important in conservation?
Education is important, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re 26 or 76. You don’t stop learning until you die. I think the best thing that we can do to help our future leaders is to help educate.
You can’t teach somebody everything they need to know. You just got to teach people how to make a decision. You know, you’ve got to be able to make a big, wise decision based on facts. And I think that’s what we’re attempting to do with the next generation program – give them some facts, so they can make wise decisions.
Why do you think diversity is important to conservation?
No two people are the same. You need that wide range of everybody, so that you can be sure that you’re making a wise decision.
What do you think the purpose and impact of the Next Generation Leadership Institute is?
The purpose is to prepare future leaders. I think the impact can be tremendous, because if we do the proper job of educating them, they will make better decisions than I did, because I had to learn it as we went. Hopefully, by us helping them to prepare, they’ll be able to make better decisions.
What is the purpose and impact of Envirothon?
I think that the purpose of Envirothon is to help educate our young people about natural resource conservation. We have so few people now that are living on the land. I mean, we’ve got so many people that are in apartments and in cities and have no connection to the land. I feel like if we can help those kids get a little experience, we can reap the benefit of their education in the future. You also give them an opportunity to explore the possibility of a career, and I think that that’s so important, because you want them to get their hands dirty outside.
Why do you think individuals should donate to this campaign?
It’s not cheap to educate people, and that’s why I think it’s important to contribute. We’ve got to have the money to do these programs adequately.
“If we let the people of the conservation movement know what we’re trying to do and how important it is, I believe we can get the money we need.”
Please help support conservation leaders by donating to the #FutureFocused campaign! As we prepare for a new 2021 NGLI cohort and the rescheduled 2021 NCF-Envirothon competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, set to be held in July 2021, your financial support is needed to help keep these programs moving forward.
Every contribution matters, and your support will be matched dollar-for-dollar throughout the campaign.