Useful content not on the WACD Hub
As we move rapidly into association meeting season with six area associations meeting in October and nine sessions to be presented in November as part of WACD’s annual conference, we continue to look at a rich tapestry of news items and visit with many people about the current state of conservation affairs. Many of the interesting tidbits are captured in the WACD Reading List where we have screened many news sources to extract highlights that may be of interest to you. Here’s the direct link to the Reading List: https://raindrop.io/tsalzer/wacd-reading-list-15979489. This content is also accessible through the Hub in the Resources menu.
We also watch for news items that identify Washington State conservation districts. Those are posted to a Flipboard magazine. While Flipboard looks magnificent on a mobile device, it works okay through a web browser, too. Find the Washington Conservation Districts magazine at https://flipboard.com/@tsalzer/washington-conservation-districts-in-the-news-hm6kk4pbz. It’s a great way to get a quick overview of some of the district activities that get published. Just like the Reading List, this content is also available through the Hub in the Resources menu.
Urban agriculture programs on the rise
We’re hearing bits of conversation about increased interest by NRCS in urban agriculture programs. That makes sense since Terry Cosby, NRCS Chief, hails from Iowa where urban agriculture is prominent. Read a recent news release about urban ag grant awards.
The grants and cooperative agreements are part of a broad USDA investment in urban agriculture. Other efforts include:
- Establishing the Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture, which will be announced later this fall.
- Establishing Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees devoted exclusively to urban agriculture. FSA has established 11, and additional ones will be announced later this year.
- Investing $260,000 for risk management training and crop insurance education for historically underserved and urban producers through partnerships between the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and the University of Maryland, the University of Connecticut, and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.
Urban doesn’t mean only downtown Seattle. This trend likely represents a future funding opportunity for many conservation districts, especially where local food systems aren’t geared toward providing food for the local population.
Equity is becoming a factor in grants
A few years ago, a conservation intern in Wisconsin penned an article that speaks to diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation. Fast forward to 2021 and we are seeing more funding surfacing to deal with equity in natural resources. The $50 million NRCS program on Racial Equity and Justice Conservation Cooperative Agreements is an example of this.
The takeaway here is no matter how you feel about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), paying more attention to these issues may improve your chances of winning grant awards. Even if your heart isn’t telling you to engage on DEI, perhaps your wallet will!
Work products of the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Speaking of equity, this is a great place for me to express my appreciation for the hard work done by the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI). Every issue we discussed was challenging and I think we all wish that we had more time to provide more polish to the draft work products. Please note the word draft in the previous sentence. The draft policy statement created in response to Resolution 2020-05 was crafted and reviewed by CDEI members. After a few small changes, it was accepted as good enough to bring before our member conservation districts for consideration. Good enough means it could be better and we expect that member contributions will make it so.
The more difficult set of topics were presented in Resolution 2020-06. CDEI members invested substantial time in building actionable responses to the language in R2020-06. Just as the policy statement for R2020-05 is a draft, the set of recommendations for R2020-06 are also presented in a draft report. The consensus achieved by the CDEI was that these recommendations were good enough to carry forward to conservation districts in the expectation that additional improvements will be made. Included in the recommendations is a suite of additional ideas from Committee members to remember for future consideration.
Download those two drafts:
- WACD DEI policy statement - DRAFT - R2020-05 (102 downloads)
- WACD recommendations - DRAFT - R2020-06 (115 downloads)
These draft documents are also made available under the Committees tab on the Area Associations annual meeting page.
Legislature likely to be virtual again
As far as we know, nothing firm has been decided about how the Washington State Legislature will function in this upcoming short session. However, based on last year’s situation, all signs point to another virtual legislative session.
Legislators leaving service
Speaking of the Legislature, we are seeing some legislators choosing to step away from serving in the Legislature. Among them are two influential senators: Senator Ann Rivers and Senator Jeannie Darneille.
Serving as a public official – and particularly in high profile, demanding roles such as state representative or senator – is often a thankless job. People are driven to this work by their passion and beliefs, but they are constantly under attack from people who don’t share similar beliefs. Your work addressing natural resource concerns isn’t a partisan issue, but nevertheless, we depend upon politicians of all stripes to get what you need to get the job done. One way to help us help you is for you to simply reach out and say thank you to your legislators. Even if you don’t want to invest the time in building a strong working relationship, it takes little time or effort to tell them thanks for the work they do.
Not a week goes by that I don’t revisit our MVP: mission, vision, and principles. These are the guideposts that keep us on track in our service to our members.
Put simply, our mission is why we are here, describing in the briefest terms the unique value that WACD provides:
WACD serves as the collective voice of conservation districts to help them achieve their purposes.
The vision statement succinctly describes our ultimate desired destination:
WACD aspires to fully support conservation districts in their implementation of locally developed conservation programs.
Principles are descriptions of our most fundamental values. Our values frame and support specific goals and strategic approaches. Principles/values should be evergreen: not changing from year to year. They form the firmament upon which to build annual work plans and the signposts to guide our decisions along the way. Our ten guiding principles are:
- We exist to advocate for, and support, member conservation districts.
- We serve people with dignity and respect, acting with integrity and operating with transparency and accountability to all.
- We continually seek to become more capable of serving members, including maintaining financial strength, enhancing board capacity, and improving staff capacity.
- We value and recognize our people for excellence in performance, including teamwork, innovation, timely completion of tasks, and support of others.
- Our responses to conservation issues are founded on proven methodologies and science.
- We form and support strategic partnerships to maximize our effectiveness and to reduce duplication of effort.
- We seek to conserve natural resources in the way we operate our organization.
- We believe in, and uphold, the practice of locally-led, voluntary, incentive-based conservation.
- Private lands – and those who steward them – provide unique and valuable conservation of renewable natural resources to be used today and by future generations.
- Because natural resources cross jurisdictional boundaries and ownerships, all lands – and the people and entities that manage them – are important in conserving renewable natural resources.
Always yours for conservation,
Tom Salzer, WACD Executive Director