This report covers the first quarter of the fiscal year and is also my first report as the director of the East National Technology Support Center. I have started reaching out to the state conservationists in the East Region to talk first hand, share training ideas, and to seek the training/direct assistance needs of the states. I look forward to communicating with and meeting as many of you as possible in the coming weeks. With the current budget constraints, travel funds have been impacted; however, we plan to continue existing and seek new ways to assist you with training and technical assistance. Webinars .....VTC training .....the new Science and Technology Training Library at ConservationWebinars.net all come to mind.
The ENTSC welcomed two new employees to the Core Team - Steve Boetger, agronomist, and Lynn Knight, agricultural economist, and we lost two seasoned veterans to retirement - William "Bill" Boyd, Manure Management team leader, and Michael Hall, grazing lands specialist. Elvis Graves, acting director and former ENTSC employee, also retired. We wish Bill, Michael, and Elvis well in their new endeavors and invite you to read more about our staffing changes in Employee News
Now a little about me... I am a second generation SCS/NRCS'er. Prior to becoming ENTSC Director, I served five and a half years as an NRCS Science and Technology national discipline lead in Headquarters. In this capacity, I provided national technical leadership for environmental engineering functions and policy guidance in the agency. Prior to that, I served on the Central National Technology Support Center core staff for three years. I held various positions at the state, area, and field levels throughout Oklahoma (1991-2004), and worked for two independent consulting firms in Texas and Oklahoma before joining the agency. My college degrees (BS, 1983; MSCE, 1991) are from Oklahoma State University.
There is much enthusiasm and work ongoing with the development of the Agency's Soil Health Management Implementation plan; new CNMP training curriculum; captioning services for 508 compliant webinars, and several technology workshops, such as for writing conservation practice standards. Training and technical assistance to the states remains our highest priority. Please feel free to contact our specialists or me with your technology and training needs and share your ideas about how we can best serve you.
Darren Hickman, Director
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|A Tribute to Cane Creek|
We Can Work it Out
Back in the 60's when the Beatles were invading America, Cane Creek was a small meandering stream in West Tennessee. This "Long and Winding Road (stream)" frequently flooded the surrounding cropland, so the Soil Conservation Service straightened the stream and dramatically reduced the flooding. While a common practice "Yesterday," we now know that channelizing a stream often causes a stream to go all "Helter Skelter." Destabilization of the channel bed and banks sent a tremendous sediment load downstream. Maybe we should have "Let it Be."
The ever-deepening Cane Creek also caused more problems as gullies moved up the tributaries and dissected cropland. Bridges that crossed the stream have been replaced numerous times. Traveling the county roads had become a pretty scary "Ticket to Ride."
Fast forwarding to 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided the funding necessary to provide a more comprehensive fix. A detailed survey of the main channel identified the critical need for additional grade stabilization primarily at six major bridge crossings. Tennessee NRCS put their heads together and decided that "We Can Work it Out." They assembled a dedicated team of design and construction professionals and began working "Eight Days a Week."
Tennessee NRCS along with "A Little Help From my Friends" worked for over three years making it all "Come Together." They designed and constructed six major grade control structures and over 128 erosion control structures on land along Cane Creek. These treatments will go a long way toward helping Cane Creek "Act Naturally." After all this time and effort, who can blame Tennessee NRCS if they want to "Twist and Shout" about what they've accomplished.
Contact Kerry Robinson
, hydraulic engineer, for more information.
|Science and Technology Training Library|
Public Trading at ConservationWebinars.net
The Science and Technology Training Library on SharePoint has been active for going on two years. To date, there have been numerous accolades and 54,800+ page visits to this NRCS intranet site that offers employees opportunities to watch training webinars presented by the National Technology Support Centers and Science and Technology Divisions and National Teams. But, how much could we stretch the value of our training if we could promote our webinars using a publicly-available Web site? Thus began the Science and Technology Training Library Webinar Portal for Conservation of Natural Resources at ConservationWebinars.net.
NRCS's Science and Technology Deputy Area has partnered with Southern Regional Extension Forestry (SREF) to offer a webinar portal that launches live events (example) and offers replays of archived conservation training (example). Webinar pages at ConservationWebinars.net present all information needed to join an event, along with a workflow that allows users to document their participation to earn continuing education credits and receive a training certificate. Soon, the webinar portal will debut to the public its Green Savings calculations to emphasize the value of travel-free online training.
The early evidence is anecdotal, but a recent ENTSC webinar launched from ConservationWebinars.net had about 35% higher attendance (380 logins) than our previously best-attended event (280 logins); and participation by public, university and other governmental agencies was up significantly. In addition to the almost 4,000 email addresses in the ENTSC announcement list, webinar invitations are distributed to another 8,000 webinar portal subscribers, depending on the topic. These invitations are picked up by SREF partners, including several land grant universities, and other groups, and they have been posted by various Facebook and Twitter users.
Contact Holli Kuykendall, ecologist, for more information.
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|Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill|
What is NRCS's Involvement?
On September 12, 2012, President Obama issued an Executive Order designating USDA (and EPA) as additional trustees for Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) and restoration activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Given past and ongoing efforts in the Gulf of Mexico states and watershed, NRCS was asked by the Secretary's office to lead USDA's participation in the Deepwater NRDA. Since late September, an interim team of NRCS policy, program, and technical specialists has been working to participate in NRDA activities and prepare USDA for future restoration and management actions that may occur under funding received from civil penalties assessed to parties responsible for damages from the spill. Kale Gullett
, ENTSC fisheries biologist, was asked by Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, deputy chief for Science and Technology, to serve as science lead for USDA's activities under the NRDA on September 21, 2012. Since then, he has participated in a number of different activities, including providing expertise to technical work groups, assisting with document review and negotiation support for early restoration projects implemented by states and other federal agencies, attending trustee council meetings and professional scientific conferences, and representing USDA on NRDA committees and subgroups. Although the full range of USDA participation and future implementation of Deepwater-related activities is not yet known, NRCS's experience with a range of natural resources and their supporting ecosystems, including rivers and streams, sediments, barrier islands, wetlands, soils, land management, air resources, and drinking water supplies will be invaluable to address and mitigate the far-reaching effects of the catastrophic events of April 20, 2010. For more information, see Gulf Spill Restoration
|Pollinator Conservation Planning|
|Short Courses for Staff, Partners... Long on Content |
NRCS wildlife biologists and natural resources specialists Jeff Thurmond in Alabama, Casey Shrader in Kentucky, John Pitre in Louisiana, Glynda Clardy in Mississippi, Carol Chandler in Tennessee, and Jeff Jones in Virginia are working with ENTSC Pollinator Conservation Specialist Nancy Adamson to set up pollinator conservation planning short courses this spring and summer. The full-day programs are valuable for anyone supporting wildlife, highlighting farming and planting methods that not only support pollinators, but also other beneficial insects (natural enemies of crop pests), birds, and other wildlife. Designed for NRCS staff and our farm conservation partners, the programs are also open to the public. Anyone interested in pollinators or habitat restoration is welcome. Once program dates are set, they will be posted on The Xerces Society's Web site. Contact Nancy Adamson, Ph.D., pollinator conservation specialist, to receive updates about courses in your region. (Photo credit: Nancy Adamson)
|CY2013 Webinar Training|
Thanks to the almost 800 NRCS employees in field, area, and state offices across the country that completed our annual webinar topics survey. You helped us narrow down a list of proposed topics to our CY2013 schedule. We're also partnering with the West National Technology Support Center again this year to offer Understanding Organic and Sustainable Agriculture webinar topics. We have a busy year ahead of us, and we know you do, too. So, if you can't join us for a live event, be sure to visit the Science and Technology Training Library at ConservationWebinars.net to catch the replay.
Recently Announced Webinars
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Under Cover Farmers
has surpassed 11,500 views in just four months and has been posted to several prominent Web sites, including one in France! Have you watched it? This video helps promote soil health.Soil Health on USDA Connect
Cover crops blogs, discussion forums, file sharing, and more awaits you as a member of the Soil Health Community
(USDA intranet). Visit the community to become a member, or request access
Like us on Facebook
The ENTSC established a Facebook
page recently. Seeing how Social Media attracts viewers to our webinars was a primary motivation. We're looking forward to watching this site grow.
Technical Assistance Delivery
In the first quarter of FY2013, the Center provided assistance on 55 requests, of which 28 were direct assistance to states, 9 were regional, and 19 were national activities. In addition to direct assistance to the states, the Center supported 17 training events to a combined audience of more than 1,050 participants. Assistance by state is shown in the East Region NTSC service area map at right.
Visit the Science and Technology Training Library at ConservationWebinars.net (or on the NRCS SharePoint) for training materials, webinar replays, and to view our upcoming webinar calendar. Contact Holli Kuykendall, ecologist, or Anthony Burns, national technology specialist, for more information.
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Saying Hello, Saying Farewell
Steve Boetger is our new ENTSC agronomist on the Core staff. He was raised on a wheat farm in Eastern Colorado and has a BS degree in Agronomy from Colorado State University. Steve has 25 years of experience with SCS/NRCS with 24 of those years spent in Florida. There, Steve was a soil conservationist, district conservationist and most recently the state agronomist. His expertise has been in erosion control models, nutrient management, integrated pest management, and conservation practice standards. Steve is a certified crop adviser with the American Society of Agronomy.
Lynn Knight is our new ENTSC agricultural economist on the Core Staff. She has an undergraduate degree in animal science and masters in agricultural economics. Lynn joined NRCS in 1992 as the Vermont state economist. She has since served in Headquarters as a senior economist for the Resource Economics and Social Sciences Division and as program analyst for the Resource Economics, Analysis and Policy Division. Lynn also worked for USDA as lead economist for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. She left federal service in 2005 for about four years to work as a private consultant to American Farmland Trust, Winrock International, and Farm Pilot Project Coordination, among others.
From Bill Boyd... "During my career, I moved my family from Tennessee to Missouri, Nebraska, Florida, Arkansas, and North Carolina, and my work took me to every state except Rhode Island and Alaska. It was on a Wednesday when I finally drove home to Tennessee, so I went to worship that evening, and the closing song was, "I Feel Like Traveling On." I had a hard time putting my heart into that one. I was proud to work with so many excellent and capable individuals, but it was a humble sort of pride that made me want to struggle to be worthy of them. You do not get to keep much when you retire, but you can keep your faith, and you can keep your family."
From Michael Hall... "My career with the agency provided opportunities to interact and learn from those who were deeply committed to caring for the land. They were the kind of people who always give more than they get in return. My work also strengthened my respect for those who make their living from the land; the ones for whom we all ultimately work. Any success that I might vainly claim in my career rests on the backs of those men and women." Editor's note: After all of the miles and military assignments, we're happy Michael made it home safely to South Carolina.
From Elvis Graves... "I have been associated in some way with the ENTSC since November 2004, and it is one of the best places that I have worked in my entire career. One of the reasons is the location. I have been fortunate to live and work in my hometown. That is a blessing that I do not take lightly and many of you know of my affinity for God's country (aka, Browns Summit). I have only known getting up and going to work for SCS/NRCS (more than 36 years), and I am sure Monday mornings will be different from now on - but I welcome the change."