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, Grace Yi of Warren Soil & Water Conservation District in IA, attended the meeting with a TA stipend.
Thanks to a newly launched Annual Meeting Scholarship Program, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the 2022 NACD Annual Meeting and represent Warren Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). To be honest, the possibility of a brief respite from blistering Iowa winter didn’t escape my mind when I applied for the scholarship. While Florida sunshine was wonderfully restorative, the best part of this trip was connecting with other TA grantees. As a sole employee of Warren SWCD – made possible by NACD TA Grants – it was extremely valuable to talk with other district employees, bouncing off ideas, and exchanging information.
Our conversations highlighted that despite varying climates, flora and fauna, and crop types, districts across the country face similar challenges such as lack of steady funding, staffing, and public awareness/appreciation of conservation districts. The last piece was particularly evident with the shocking news of Florida’s Senate Bill 1078 and House Bill 783 proposing to abolish all soil and water conservation districts in the state. This was especially disheartening given that another common thread was how essential districts are to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and state agencies to accomplish conservation goals.
While these challenges are real, so are the creativity, dedication, and hopefulness of the success stories shared at small breakout sessions. I appreciated the wide range of topics offered, and especially enjoyed “On-Farm Conservation Tools,” which demonstrated benefits of conservation in measurable outcomes such as increased profits or percent organic matter and provided tangible formulas to replicate it back home. I also enjoyed and learned a great deal from sessions where farmers or district staff talked about the projects they took on, why and how they did them, what worked, and what didn’t work. Finally, the First Timers Session and NACD Region Meetings helped me to better understand NACD’s structure and goals.
All in all, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to attend the annual meeting, and I return inspired and equipped with a new support system and ideas for Warren SWCD.
Tags: TA Annual Meeting Series