2019 Summer Meeting Concurrent Sessions

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Monday, August 5

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Policy: Farm Bill Program Implementation

Rivera A

Speakers: NRCS Deputy Chief Jimmy Bramblett and NRCS Staff

The 2018 Farm Bill continued to demonstrate Congress’ strong commitment to conservation investments to sustain our nation’s soil, water, air, plant and animal resources. This session will highlight changes that are being made to virtually every USDA Conservation Program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Participants will also understand how to help shape regulatory and policy development by learning when and how public input will be offered in the coming weeks and months.


Communications: Building the Capacity and Coordination to Market Conservation Districts

Rivera B

Speakers: Laura Johnson, Washington State Conservation Commission and Doug Rushton, NACD Board Member – Washington

Washington’s conservation districts and the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) are on a mission: we never want to hear conservation districts referred to as the “best kept secret” ever again. For the last eight years, SCC and Washington’s conservation districts have been working to develop communications strategies and resources that make it easier for every conservation district to market their story. This session will describe the opportunities and challenges of coordinating marketing efforts at the state or regional level, the results of these efforts so far, and our current work to develop a ‘positioning statement’ about conservation districts. This session will also include a review of products developed so far for a ‘marketing toolkit,’ which can be adopted and utilized by conservation districts in other states, too.

District Operations: Local Work Group Training and CART


Speakers: “Powering Up Your Local Work Group” – Ray Ledgerwood

“CART” – Aaron Lauster

Participants will learn practical ways to re-energize their Local Work Group for providing input on USDA and State Conservation Programs. Topics will include; identifying natural resource priorities, local and regional projects, potential partners, and programs to utilize. Participants also will learn the background of Local Work Groups, the important role of Conservation Districts in forming, chairing and working with NRCS in successful LWG operations. Participants will come away with energy to utilize their LWG for developing locally-led project and program proposals. The session will also include an overview of the CART application through NRCS.

Invasive Species


Speakers: “Invasive Species: Education to Eradication (Eventually)” – Victoria Milne, Otero SWCD

“Western Governors’ Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative: Outcomes & Next Steps” – Bill Witacre, Western Governors Association

This presentation explores from beginning to end how to identify and develop an invasive species program. This presentation will start with a summary and discussion of the Western Governors Association’s Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative and the resulting policy. Participants will then learn how to put the plan to action. Finally, Otero SWCD will present on how it developed and implemented an invasive weed program.
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Riparian Program

Rivera A

Speakers: “Watershed Restoration on the Canadian River” – New Mexico State Representative Jack Chatfield

“Riparian Restoration on the Rio Grande” -Nyleen Troxel Stowe and Will Kolbenschlag, Socorro SWCD

Addressing water quality and quantity are high resource priorities in the arid Southwest. These two districts are on a mission to address both. This presentation includes a comparative analysis of biological, mechanical and chemical treatment of salt cedar to conserve water and restore riparian habitats.

Ag and Urban Cost Share

Rivera B

Speaker: “Life is better in the shade, preventing water loss in your stock tank” – Mike Cone, Roosevelt SWCD

“Sierra SWCD Cost Share Program, Helping People Help the Land” – Travis Day, Sierra SWCD

Soil and water conservation districts work in many ways to assist private landowners. In this session, learn how two districts work with landowners to implement conservation, from offering an innovative product to address water evaporation in our semiarid climate, to offering financial assistance when EQIP doesn’t fund all the projects. Roosevelt and Sierra SWCDs will present on how they identified conservation needs and implemented programs to help address those needs.

Public Lands


Speakers: “Pecos Watershed Initiative” – Jesse Juen, retired N.M. BLM Director

“Implementing the Alternative Funding Arrangement at the Local Level” – Norman Vigil

Landscape-scale conservation can be challenging when covering various land ownership statuses such as BLM, Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) , state, and private. These different landowner statuses can create what is referred to as a checkerboard. This presentation will cover two different approaches to landscape conservation across ownership lines. Learn how through match funding and partnership building, large-scale conservation can be achieved. Participants will also learn the benefits of utilizing the alternative funding agreement (AFA) with NRCS.



Speakers: “Engaging youth in urban agriculture and environmental education” – Allison Martin, Valencia SWCD and Lindsey Diaz, East Valencia Urban Gardens Program

“Urban Ag Demo and Backyard Farms” – Jennifer Kleitz, Dona Ana SWCD and Rachel Ryan, Backyard Farms

This presentation will take conservation to the urban epicenter of the state of New Mexico. Learn how Valencia and Dona Ana SWCDs are educating their urban neighbors on how to implement agricultural conservation practices and how to engage all ages of citizens to increase their knowledge and passion for conservation.
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Rivera A

Speakers: “Empowering youth through conservation education” – Melissa May and Andy Bleckinger, San Juan SWCD

“Conservation Education – NM Envirothon” – Peter Vigil, Taos SWCD

This presentation focuses on instilling a passion for conservation for a better tomorrow. Learn how these two districts are actively engaging youth in their communities and across the state to increase conservation awareness, promote careers in conservation, and encourage youth of all ages to be involved in conserving today to provide for the future of their communities.

Leadership Education: Next Generation Leadership Institute


Speakers: Ray Ledgerwood and Patricia Lardie

The Next Generation Leadership Institute is a new program of the National Conservation Foundation. Join this session to get a taste of what leadership means for our unique position as local public leaders tasked to protect natural resources. After an informational presentation during Monday’s lunch, this interactive session provides insight into the program and digs a little deeper into what civic leadership means within conservation districts today.


Rivera B

Speakers: “Forest Management and Why it is important” – Anthony Delfin, Retired New Mexico State Forester

“Woodland Thinning Partners on Private Land” – Ken Leiting, East Torrance SWCD

With the increased occurrence of catastrophic fires and droughts, managing woodlands and forests has taken on an increased importance. From private lands within the U.S. Forest Service to overpopulated Pinyon-Juniper sites, efforts are underway to restore healthy woodlands and forests in order to manage fires, protect watersheds, and increase resistance to drought. Learn how agencies are teaming up to strategically make a difference in our forests and woodlands.

Soil Health


Speakers: “Sustainable Soil Systems” – Ken and Linda Scheffe

“Rainfall Simulator” – Brenda Simpson, NRCS

Healthy soils are an important element in our daily lives. Learn how healthy soils can improve water quality, improve drought resilience, and increase productivity by maximizing moisture intake and retention in our soils. Participants will learn how to use soil health indicators in planning and evaluating plans for a sustainable ecological system.


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