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, Wyvette Robinson of the Hinds County Soil and Water Conservation District in MS, attended the meeting with a TA stipend.
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) held its Summer Conservation Forum and Tour in conjunction with the Southeast Region Meeting on July 16-19, 2022. It was an exciting time to be in the presence of Conservation advocates, employees, and friends. Sunny beaches, historic cityscapes and cozy ambiance awaited us in San Juan, Puerto Rico as did a few acquaintances that I’ve met over the years.
This conservation forum was packed with various information sessions, regional meetings, and events. We talked about the impact of Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017 and the recovery efforts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the months and years that have followed. There is still much work to do! However, I’m confident that renewed priorities will aid the islands’ farmers, ranchers and growers in continuing recovery efforts that will be both adequate and equitable.
It was truly uplifting to hear about the focus on conservation initiatives from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). New streams of funding for urban agriculture and increased funding opportunities for programs like the On-Farm Energy Initiative were highlighted and celebrated. I was just like a kid in the candy store! I understand how important farmers, ranchers and growers are to our everyday way of life. I am so thankful for each and every one of them.
There was so much to glean from all the forums. I had the opportunity to sit in on a session titled Equity: The Importance of Data and Targeted Outreach. The session shared statistics on participants in the underserved community. Stats of interest to me were the number of women owned agricultural operations, the number of years they had been farming, their level of education, their common role in operations they managed versus owned, etc. I found this information fascinating! It gave me a desire to do some research on the same sub-group of women producers in my very own community. And what perfect time to do it than now because the 2022 Census of Agriculture is on the horizon. I got a chance to meet each of the presenters and exchange contact information for future communication and collaboration. How awesome!
When the announcement of this Southeast Region meeting was made, I could have only dreamed of attending this conference. However, due to the generosity of NACD, my dream became a reality. I plan to use the information I gleaned to further the efforts of targeted outreach and to educate others.