This blog post is part of a seven-part series highlighting technical assistance (TA) grant recipient participation at NACD’s Summer Conservation Forum and Tours in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This post’s author, Eric Schuh of Snohomish Conservation District in WA, attended the meeting with a TA stipend.
The 2022 NACD Summer Meeting held in San Juan, Puerto Rico was the first NACD meeting I have had the opportunity to attend. This was not only an amazing experience to travel and visit Puerto Rico, but it was also an opportunity to observe an NACD meeting and network with amazing people from around our country. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to take part on behalf of our team at the Snohomish Conservation District and be part of the representation from our Northwest region of Washington State.
During the general session I had the opportunity to listen to many leaders in the world of Conservation including NRCS Chief Terry Cosby, Dr. Bradley Doorn, Commissioner Positive T.A. Nelson, Secretary Ramon Gonzalez Beiro, and Yasiel Figueroa Sanchez. Also included with this amazing list of speakers was NACD President Michael Crowder. I also had the exceptional experience meeting NACD staff in person. It was their hard work that brought the entire meeting together and made it a very enjoyable experience. The breakout session that I attended included a panel discussing Carbon Markets and shed light on the opportunities and challenges moving forward with this field. Another session discussing the use of drones and remote sensing really drove home the opportunities that can be realized for conservation utilizing innovative tools. I look forward to exploring this further in my own area to help producers with water conservation and crop productivity.
Ultimately, the opportunity to network and meet fellow TA awardees was a true highlight of the trip. Getting to know one another and brainstorm challenges and opportunities from all over the country was awesome! Being “one of the fifteen” was a unique experience that not only allowed us to gain perspective from other regions but to also spur creativity for our own programs at home.
Finally, I was fortunate to have been able to take part in the El Yunque National Forest Tour. This was an amazing field tour of the rainforest where we learned about local flora and fauna. On this trip we learned about the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot and the road to recovery for this beautiful bird. We also took several walking tours of the forest and were able to see and hear many different species that call the El Yunque rainforest home.
What I will take home from this experience is the incredible opportunity to meet so many people from around our country and to have conversations that illustrate our unique challenges while emphasizing that we are working toward the same goals. I am very thankful to NACD for this opportunity to attend this meeting in such a wonderful location and hope to attend more in the future.