2020 Annual Meeting Breakout Sessions

Monday, February 10 | 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Natural Resources Policy & Protection
Disaster Response and Resilience

Bronze 1

Does your district know how to best prepare for, and respond to, disasters? In this session, two districts will provide information on the tools and resources they use to prepare their offices for any disaster they might face. The Sublette County Conservation District will share how its collaborative effort with different private, state and federal partners has helped improve their response and resilience to wildfires in the region. The Okanogan Conservation District will share the resources they use to prepare themselves for the operational disruptions caused by different disasters.

Presenters: Michael Henn, District Manager – Sublette County Conservation District, Wyo.; Craig Nelson, Executive Director – Okanogan Conservation District, Wash.

Moderator: Velynda Parker – National Conservation District Employees Association

District Operations and Partnerships
National Programs Boosting Technical Capacity

Bronze 2

NACD has several grants available to help strengthen and grow your conservation district. In this session, districts that have participated in NACD’s Technical Assistance (TA) Grants Program and NRCS’ Conservation Planning Boot Camp will talk about their experiences and the impact these programs have had on their districts.

Presenters:  Meg Leader, Projects and Partnerships Coordinator – NACD

Boot Camp Panelists: Coleta Bratten, District Manager – Dewey County Conservation District, Okla.; Rhyan Schicker, Resource Specialist – Lac Qui Parle SWCD, Minn.

TA Grant Panelist: Debbie Absher, Director of Agricultural Programs – Sussex Conservation District, Del.; Maggie Orr, Past President – Nevada Association of Conservation Districts

Moderator: Jeanette Hale – National Conservation District Employees Association

Stewardship & Outreach
Innovative Conservation District Outreach Approaches

Bronze 3

Conservation districts face the challenge of expanding their audience and sharing new information. In this session, the Vermillion-Parke Soil Health Alliance will share their peer facilitation model that will help districts reach new audiences. Attendees will also learn how the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is utilizing conservation districts to share information about the new FDA Produce Safety Rule.

Presenters: Eric Shideler, Director – Vermillion County SWCD, Ind.; Deb Barnett, Director – Parke County SWCD, Ind.; Kristin Esch, Produce Safety Specialist – Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Food and Dairy Division

Moderator: Melissa Higbee – National Conservation District Employees Association

Conservation Innovation
Innovation, Natural Resources and Ecosystem Services

Bronze 4

This session will explore how new tools and strategies are being used to determine the values of ecosystem services on working lands. Topics covered include NASA-supported pilot satellite imagery to boost sustainability; building a market-based approach to promoting land stewardship through the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium; and using technologies that inform sustainability practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Presenters: Mike Komp – Conservation Technology Information Center; Bruce Knight – Ecosystem Services Market Consortium; Chris Fennig – MyFarms

Moderator: Tim Riley –National Conservation District Employees Association


Monday, February 10 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Natural Resources Policy & Protection
Environmental Impacts of Rural Roads

Bronze 1

For the past 20 years, Pennsylvania’s Dirt Gravel and Low Volume Road Maintenance Program has been funding environmentally-focused rural road improvement projects aimed at improving water quality. In this session, program representatives will discuss the program’s purpose and background, as well as provide completed project examples. Presenters: Roy Richardson, Dirt Gravel and Low Volume Roads
Program Coordinator – Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission; Sandy Thompson, Manager – McKean County Conservation District, Pa.; Steve Bloser, Director – Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies, Penn State UniversityModerator: Jeff Parker – National Conservation District Employees Association
District Operations & Partnerships
Conservation Through Catastrophe: Puerto Rico’s Districts After Hurricane Maria

Bronze 2

Despite the many challenges Puerto Rico has faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, its conservation districts have sustained, and even grown, their conservation efforts. In this session, districts will learn from Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery experiences to help better prepare for potential disasters.

Presenters:  Joel Vega – Puerto Rico NACD Board Member; Gelyan Reyes, Soil Conservation Technician – Caribe Soil and Water Conservation District, Puerto Rico; Grisela Morena – West Soil and Water Conservation District, Puerto Rico

Moderator: Hope Daley – National Conservation District Employees Association

Stewardship & Outreach
Building Partnerships with Native American Tribes

Bronze 3

In this session, attendees will learn how conservation districts partner with tribes to put conservation programs on the ground. Hear how tribal organizations are working with NACD’s Tribal Outreach and Partnership Resource Policy Group (RPG) to implement practices and programs that meet the needs of Indian agriculture. Tribal members will also share how they’ve established their own tribal conservation districts.

Presenters: Sadie Lister, Vice Chair – NACD Tribal Resource Policy Group; Delane Atcitty, Executive Director – Indian Nation Conservation Alliance; Zach Ducheneaux, Executive Director – Intertribal Agriculture Council; Gary O’Neill, State Conservationist – NRCS, Okla.; Janie Hipp – Native American Agriculture Fund

Moderator: Gretchen Rank – National Conservation District Employees Association; Roylene Comes at Night – NRCS

Conservation Innovation
Powering Innovation at the Landscape Scale

Bronze 4

Presenters will discuss how to use today’s technologies to address conservation needs and achieve measurable stewardship goals on a landscape scale. Technologies discussed will include Truterra from Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, a digital platform that supports farmer-led stewardship; and Field to Market’s calculator for supply-chain projects. This session will also provide an overview of Turkey Hill Dairy and the Clean Water Partnership’s work to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Presenters: Jason Weller – Land O’Lakes; Lexi Clark – Field to Market; Andrea Nikolaus – Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership; Jenna Mitchell – Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership

Moderator: William Hodge – National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils

Tuesday, February 11 | 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Natural Resources Policy & Protection
Pathways to Water Quality

Bronze 1

Partnerships are important in addressing water quality issues and implementing projects to address them. In this session, attendees will hear from different conservation districts about how they have partnered with others to solve water quality issues in their area.

Presenters: Lisa Ogden, District Manager – Natrona County Conservation District, Wyo.; Chris Brown, District Manager – Cecil Soil Conservation District, Md.; Kirsten Robertson, District Manager – Greenville Soil and Water Conservation District, S.C.

Moderator: Gretchen Rank – National Conservation District Employees Association

District Operations & Partnerships
Partnering for Conservation Delivery Programs

Bronze 2

Partnerships with traditional and non-traditional organizations are crucial to design, develop and implement conservation programs. Hear how the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts partnered with the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation to develop a vision for the future of conservation delivery in the state. Learn how the Pollinator Plots and Volunteer Citizen Scientist Program in Oklahoma combined the efforts of many organizations to engage urban and suburban communities in ecosystem health.

Presenters: Bryan Evans, Executive Director – North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Michelle Lovejoy, Executive Director – North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation; Sarah Blaney, Executive Director – Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts; Amy Seiger; Kevin Mink

Moderator: Chessa Frahm – National Conservation District Employees Association

Stewardship & Outreach
Partnering to Teach the Next Generation

Bronze 3

There are many resources available for conservation districts to expand their outreach to youth. In this session, Campbell CD will teach attendees how to utilize different curriculum to enhance conservation education programs. Calcasieu SWCD will share how Ag in the Classroom can assist in delivering the conservation stewardship message. Preble SWCD will share the secrets to their successful Conservation Day Camp, a program for elementary-aged students to learn about conservation.

Presenters: Crystal Kellebrew, Education Coordinator – Campbell County Conservation District, Wyo.; Amanda Hulet, Education Coordinator – Clear Creek Conservation District, Wyo.; Kate Sills, Outreach Coordinator – Preble SWCD, Ohio; Rose Sharbeno, District Secretary – Calcasieu SWCD, La.; Carlyn Morales, Conservation Coordinator – Upper Delta SWCD, La., Chair – Pointe Coupee Ag in the Classroom, La.

Moderator: Coleta Bratten – National Conservation District Employees Association

Conservation Innovation
Field-Level Technology and Tools for the 21st Century

Bronze 4

At the field level, new technology is supporting producers’ stewardship decisions. This presentation will cover NRCS’ CART and Conservation Desktop, two key tools to support conservation delivery and decision-making; the NRCS Highly Erodible Land Determination Tool; using publicly accessible tools to calculate how soil health practices improve productivity, profits and the environment; and targeted agricultural drone spraying for good stewardship practices.

Presenters: Aaron Lauster – NRCS; Chris Morse – NRCS; Marcie Dunn – NRCS; Aaron Ristow – American Farmland Trust; Michael Ott – Rantizo

Moderator: Astor Boozer – NRCS

Tuesday, February 11 | 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Natural Resources Policy & Protection
Conservation Legislation: the New Mexico Health Soil Act

Bronze 1

On April 2, 2019, the Healthy Soil Act was signed into law in New Mexico after unanimous passage
in a generally divided state. Conservation districts are crucial in implementing the law’s provisions to advance soil stewardship in the state. Through learning about the New Mexico Healthy Soil Initiative, attendees will learn how to implement soil health strategies in their state. Presenters will share tools used, obstacles and opportunities they encountered, and the continuing needs for success and will discuss and develop strategies for the audience’s proposed conservation policies.

Presenters: Robb Hirsch and Jeff Goebel – New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group

Moderator: Mandy Parkes – National Conservation District Employees Association

District Operations & Partnerships
North Dakota’s Collaborative Success Stories

Bronze 2

In this session, attendees will learn about two successful projects in North Dakota and how partnerships were crucial in their success. Learn how the District Activity Report Tool (DART), developed in coordination with the North Dakota Conservation District Employees Association and the State Soil Conservation Committee, tells the story of what districts do across the state. Attendees will hear about the Supervisor Leadership Academy Program, developed via a partnership between NDSU Extension and the North Dakota Health Department, and how it can be replicated by other conservation districts.

Presenters: Sarah Tunge, District Manager – Mercer County SCD, N.D., Director – North Dakota Conservation District Employees Association; Bruce Schmidt, Program Coordinator – NDSU Watershed & Soil Conservation Leadership Program

Moderator: Brenda Smythe – National Conservation District Employees Association

Stewardship & Outreach
Revolutionizing Conservation in the Agriculture Industry through S.T.A.R.

Bronze 3

S.T.A.R. (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources) is an innovative program that provides a free evaluation tool to increase stewardship on farms through outreach and technical assistance. S.T.A.R. evaluates and verifies adoption of field-level conservation practices and encourages continuous improvement through value chain incentives. This presentation will provide a brief overview of the development and implementation of the S.T.A.R. Program and discuss how conservation districts across the country can become licensed to implement this revolutionary program to increase farmland stewardship.

Presenters: Bruce Henrikson, S.T.A.R. Program Coordinator – Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District, Ill.; Steve Stierwalt, President – Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Moderator: Kayleigh Evans – National Conservation District Employees Association

Conservation Innovation
Tying it All Together

Bronze 4

This session will explore our collective conservation future and how existing and developing technology and tools will support decision-making and stewardship. Topics will include how new pieces fit into a 21st century conservation delivery system; OpenTEAM, a technology ecosystem that helps farmers improve production and ecosystem services; how the private and public sector can work together for watershed planning; how the USDA Agricultural Research Service can help America’s producers and conservation professionals; and insight into the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Presenters: Jimmy Bramblett – NRCS; Dorn Cox, producer and NACD Soil Health Champion; Doug Thomas – Houston Engineering; Dr. David Knaebel – Agricultural Research Service; Kari Cohen – NRCS

Moderator: Mike Brown – NASCA


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