This blog post is part of a nine-part series highlighting technical assistance (TA) grant recipient participation at NACD’s 76th Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL. This post’s author, Chelsea Steffes of Cape Atlantic Conservation District in NJ, attended the meeting with a TA stipend.
On February 15, 2022, I celebrated my first year as a district employee at the Cape Atlantic Conservation District in southern New Jersey. I’ve spent this past year training and learning invaluable information about conservation in my local community, but the NACD Annual Meeting allowed me to get a better picture of the wider framework of partnerships that support this work nationally. It was a great opportunity to learn more about organizations I had heard about previously and really understand the larger picture of how they all work together. I discovered the role of organizations such as NACD, the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA), the National Conservation Foundation (NCF), the National Conservation District Employees Association (NCDEA), and others I had never heard of before.
I was pleasantly surprised by the wide array of formats used during the conference, from speakers and panels to smaller discussions in and out of meetings. The presenters ranged from people with big ideas that were impacting their communities through different avenues ranging from non-profits focusing on working with landowners to encourage environmental impacts on their land, to Chief Terry Cosby outlining the goals of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The annual meeting was a great opportunity to put faces to the names I had seen in emails. I attended breakout sessions that gave me vital background information and plenty of ideas about urban agriculture and local work groups that I can take back and implement in my district. Lively discussions by participants could be found in all sessions. The district staff and supervisors who were there were eager to tell their stories, find ways to learn from what others have already tried, and figure out the best way to help those in their communities. I came away inspired by the passion and commitment of others and excited to be a part of this conservation community.
Tags: TA Annual Meeting Series