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NACD Annual Meeting TA Grant Participant: Kalani Fortina

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, Kalani Fortina of Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District in NE, attended the meeting as a TA speaker.

This year, for the first time, NACD offered stipends to 2019 TA Grant recipients to attend the 2022 Annual Meeting. I was fortunate enough to be selected as an alternate, and eventually able to attend the meeting in Orlando! The meeting proved immensely beneficial, not only to me as a conservation district employee, but to the future of our district in eastern Nebraska.

Through listening to the wide range of speakers at the conference and attending the many breakout sessions, it was apparent that the future of conservation is bright. This sentiment was felt by the other TA grantees who were awarded stipends. For many of us, outside discussion with conservation districts around the nation is limited. We were able to compare the different resource concerns in our areas as well as the practices utilized to address those concerns. These varied dramatically across the nation, which made discussions enlightening to everyone.

Many of the people I encountered at the conference were unaware of how differently the conservation districts in Nebraska function. It was just as surprising to me to hear about how differently other counties and states are structured. From staffing to budgeting, it’s apparent that Nebraska is unique. Stipend recipients designed posters that were displayed at the conservation expo. These posters were very helpful in showcasing just how much work was accomplished through each district’s TA Grant.

For our district, the funding provided by the TA Grants mean that we can get more conservation on the ground. This is a benefit not only to landowners in our district, but to the land itself for generations to come. Attendance at the meeting opened my eyes to the possibilities that remain open to us in terms of urban agriculture, sustainability, and conservation ‘defined for all.’

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