Five Things to Know

August 27, 2020

1: Reminder: It is WACD annual awards time!

It is time again to harvest your great achievements and successes! WACD’s Annual Awards Program is now available. Please contribute a nomination for an outstanding member of Washington State’s conservation community who deserves recognition. There are nine awards, from volunteers to new supervisors to local cooperators large and small. Nominations are due to Lori McLaughlin by October 30th and winners will be announced in coordination with the WACD annual conference.

2: A peek into the future (budget packages)

In the next few weeks, the Conservation Commission will be submitting to the Office of Financial Management the decision packages that many district supervisors and staff helped write. These budget packages detail potential funding for the 2021-2023 state biennium. These decision packages will be evaluated by the Governor’s office as part of the process of drafting a budget to present to the new Legislature. Once the Commission’s part in this process is complete, WACD will work with conservation districts in September and October to support funding these necessary conservation efforts. Such support is usually communicated through letters of support from districts, partners, and local cooperators. Many of you were not around in 2018 so we thought this peek into the future would be helpful. Expect more details soon!

3: WACD Plant Materials Center sales down, hope remains

The WACD PMC has not published a new sales report since August 11th but a new one is being prepared. As of 8/11/20 the PMC has booked $338,564 in sales for FY 2020-21. Sales were $582,401 last year on 8/14/19 and they were $497,252 on 8/16/18. We think it is likely that some customers and some projects are waiting to see what happens in the fall with the coronavirus. In the meantime, we are reducing spending and increasing marketing.

4: Request for suggestions for webinars with agencies

The recent webinar we hosted for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was well received by WACD members. A suggestion was made to have video conferences like this more regularly. We seek your suggestions for agencies (or even specific departments within agencies) that your conservation district would enjoy visiting with. One key purpose is to help you build relationships with agency folks so that when you need their help, they already know you and what you do. Please send your suggestions to Ryan.

5: Video conferencing training

With all six area association meetings likely to be held electronically this October, WACD staff is committing ourselves to helping each district grow more proficient at using video conference technologies. Our goal is for every attendee of an area association meeting (as well as the WACD annual conference) to be familiar with how video conferencing software works before the start of those meetings. WACD staff will be setting up regular office hours for folks to drop in (virtually!) and spend the time necessary testing software and learning all the bells and whistles. We will also proactively reach out to districts and to those scheduling special appointments, ensuring anyone who wants to participate will be able to do so.

Executive Corner

Dear [subscriber:firstname | default:reader],

Each week as we begin to tie a ribbon around this weekly newsletter, I pause to reflect on the past week. Those reflections are the fuel for my entries into this column.

This week I'm reflecting on perception vs. reality, and surprisingly, that morphed into some thoughts on active, effective listening skills. I think that we often get a little bit mixed up between what we perceive to be true and what is objective, factual truth. I would like to say that I'm aware of this because of my science background but the truth lies much closer to home...and that's a teaser for the ending thoughts in this week's column!

"Perception is not reality, but, admittedly, perception can become a person’s reality (there is a difference) because perception has a potent influence on how we look at reality." Source: Psychology Today

Clearly, perception — which is based on sensory information — is not the same as reality. Reality is based upon that which is real and factual, not what is imagined.

"...we believe what we perceive to be accurate, and we create our own realities based on those perceptions. And although our perceptions feel very real, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily factual." Source: Well and Good

The point here is that in our daily lives, what we perceive to be real and true is what guides our beliefs and our actions. Indeed, your thoughts become your reality.

It should come as no surprise that what you perceive may be very different than what someone else perceives. That holds true in how we perceive ourselves vs. how others perceive us. Ultimately, how others perceive you becomes your reputation. For example, you may see yourself as standing up for what you believe in but others may perceive this behavior as aggressive or overly stubborn. If that's how people see you, that guides their reactions to what you do and say. In this context, how people perceive you becomes the frame by which your judged, even when that frame doesn't match your view of yourself.

Let's bring this out of the realm of articles and hyperbole and into the present. We have some topics this year that touch on deeply held beliefs. (And as noted above, our beliefs control our reality.) One such topic is conservation district elections where we have a spectrum of beliefs and desires among our members. Another topic newer but no less contentious: the broad issue of diversity and inclusion.

These two topics are sparking reactions that span a wide range of perspectives. I use the word "sparking" because there is often some heat in the statements I hear. People on one side believe the other side is misguided or just plain wrong. When that belief gets communicated, we stop being able to hear each other. If we can't hear each other, we can never come to agreement.

"We should be able to disagree about policy without labeling our political opponents illegitimate or refusing to work with them on any terms short of their capitulation." Source: Negotiation and compromise as core constitutional values.

That can be very frustrating because we each want to hold onto what we believe. We resist changing our own perspectives. I sometimes find it very challenging to let go of my belief that I'm right (of course I am!) and to quietly open my heart and mind to other ideas. "When you are involved in a problem, just shut up and listen" might be the best advice Mom ever gave me. Mom taught me that active listening is crucial in defusing the tension that sometimes emerges when we are talking with someone who doesn't agree with us.

Mom's words are a more down-to-earth version of Stephen R. Covey's Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood. (If you haven't read Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I recommend it highly. It has been one of the most enlightening and accessible books on personal improvement I've ever read.) I think I was about 12 years old when Mom uttered her golden wisdom to me so she was well ahead of Covey!

This concept is fleshed out in more practical terms by the Government of New Zealand in Positive conversations and reaching agreement. That article has helpful perspectives and actionable steps that are fairly easy to follow.

OK, let's bring this topic home. My reality is based on my perceptions which are based on my life experiences, so my perception is different than yours. My personal reality shapes how I hear what is said and how I respond, but I can exert some control over my reactions by following Mom's great advice: "just shut up and listen."

The next time that strong beliefs and feelings are feeding statements that create more warmth in the room than you may be comfortable with, you might want to try my mother's advice: "just shut up and listen." Thank you, Mom!

Tom Salzer, Executive Director

More from the WACD Plant Materials Center...

COVID-19 Update – The PMC continues to adhere to all of the workplace COVID regulations. Skagit County remains in phase 2. There has been a total of 992 cases since the beginning with 22 deaths and 90 hospitalizations. Seven new cases have been reported in the past couple of days. Along the way there have been an ever-increasing myriad of ag workplace regulations. The PMC continues to keep abreast of them, largely thanks to the Washington State Farm Bureau who have done a great job of notifying members of new regulations and working with Olympia in finding workable solutions for ag employers.

Marketing – Lori and Jess are working diligently on marketing. The customer data base is categorized into marketing segments such as Conservation Districts, Agencies, Tribes, Non-Profits, Nurseries, Foresters, Municipalities, etc. They are finding new potential customers within those categories and reaching out.

Accounting Review – In accordance with policy, the PMC is conducting a review of procedures this year. Larson Gross, our accounting firm, is conducting the review. Lori is busy providing them with the records they have requested. Larson Gross will provide a report when finished.

Life Goes On – By August most of the plants have grown to size and attention turns to getting them to go dormant. We do this primarily through drought stressing. Irrigation is withheld unless plants start to get too crispy looking. We were making good headway until it rained last Friday. Now the dry weather is back and hopefully it remains dry until the plants are on their way to dormancy induction. The attached photos don’t highlight how well the plants are looking, but they do show how beautiful the sky was Monday morning!

As usual, please contact the PMC with your questions. PMC staff are happy to field your requests and concerns.
Rainbow 8.24.20b
Sunrise 8.24.20

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More from the WACD Executive Office...

Area Association meetings – The basic list of dates for fall meetings of area associations is now posted on the Our Area Associations page in the WACD website.

Almost final: WACD's Olympia office is moving – This week was partly consumed by final packing and the moving of smaller boxes and supplies. Tomorrow (Friday), a local moving company will haul the larger items to the new office and Tom will fill the small holes that have accumulated in the walls of the old office. On Monday, Ryan will do the final walk through with the property manager and turn in our keys.

Please use Ryan's and Tom's cell numbers for contact until we can get new phones connected in the new office.

New 2020 Summer "The Resource" publication from NACD – Once again our national association has outdone themselves with a great report. We appreciate the inspiring report on Latino Conservation Week by the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District (California). Find it on pages 28 and 29 in the Summer 2020 edition of NACD's The Resource.

Links to what we are reading

Below are links to interesting items we are reading. Disclaimer: inclusion of these links in this newsletter do not imply official WACD support or endorsement of particular positions or information. Some news sources may be behind paywalls.

Conservation and conservation districts
Environment & Natural Resources
Diversity / Equity / Inclusion
Washington State government
Management and Leadership
Proof that we read widely!

Partners and Publications

Partners and Associations (suggestions welcome)

WACD hears you and is here for you!

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