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NACD Annual Meeting TA Grant Participant: Anna Olsen

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, Anna Olsen of Cachuma Resource Conservation District in CA, attended the meeting as a TA speaker.

In 2019, Cachuma Resource Conservation District (CRCD) received a Technical Assistance Grant (TA) from NACD. This grant gave funding to CRCD to hire a Bilingual Outreach and Water Resources Specialist, allowing CRCD to provide Spanish outreach and perform irrigation evaluations and irrigation nutrient management trainings with in-house staff. Between 2013 and 2019, CRCD did not have the ability to provide efficient and effective bilingual services to the Spanish speaking community, relying on contractors and consultants to provide those services within our district. This created a gap in our ability to assist the entire agricultural community within the district.

To mitigate the need for Spanish outreach for both CRCD and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), we were able to use the TA Grant to rehire a former employee, Misael Sanchez, to communicate what is available to the underserved Spanish speaking communities within our district. The grant also provided the ability to have in-house staff complete irrigation evaluations including the ability to have reports written in Spanish, plus allowed irrigation management and Soil Nitrate Quick Test trainings both in-person and virtually in English and Spanish to our agricultural community, all of which was previously outsourced.

In the initial months of the COVID pandemic, we were able to pivot and adjust our assistance to where our agriculture community needed us most. While in the beginning we were limited with our field visits and evaluations, CRCD was still able to provide our services virtually through online presentations and radio interviews in English and Spanish as well as provide outreach support for NRCS. Additionally, we were able to assist other partner organizations and county agencies by providing bilingual outreach services to the Spanish speaking growers and directing them to various county services, funding opportunities, and distribution of personal protective equipment. We heard from the field that during the pandemic the growers “were struggling financially and CRCD were the only people who came to help us in applying for the different programs that were available.” The TA Grant has given CRCD the opportunity to assist all of the agriculture communities within the district during the height of the pandemic, which would have been difficult without the grant, and this grant continues to allow us to provide our services to benefit all within our district.

Tags: TA Annual Meeting Series

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