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Culturally Significant Plants
Georgia Wetland Assistance
Webinar CEUs
Pollinators Need Support
East NTSC Community
S&T Webinars
Assistance Highlights
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Director's Columntop

Darren HickmanGreetings. In this summer 2013 edition of the East National Technology Support Center (ENTSC) newsletter, I want to recognize some of the great work and assistance the National Plant Data Team (NPDT) is providing and that is available to you, our customers. We have highlighted a couple of assistance and training events provided by the NPDT that may fill an assistance need in your state. 


The ENTSC is seeing an incredible quarterly growth in our email distribution list. We currently have over 6,200 contacts, with over 2,900 new subscribers or new webinar participants added to our distribution list since this time last year. 


Beginning this month, August 2013 and continuing through the end of the calendar year, the Soil Health state volunteer trainers will be delivering 1-day "soil health 101" workshops in a number of states. In addition to the volunteer soil health trainers, I want to take this opportunity to thank the state conservationists for allowing their staffs to deliver this most important training.

Training and technical assistance to the states is 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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Banner photo: Bumble bee on blueberry, Nancy Adamson 

Culturally Significant Plants

Ethnoecology assistance in Texas
Ethnoecologist Dr. Kat Anderson of the National Plant Data Team, with the assistance of Garry Stephens, NRCS wildlife biologist and tribal liaison, and district conservationists of local NRCS field offices, met with the Alabama-Coushatta, Tigua of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, and Kickapoo, three federally recognized tribes in Texas, for two weeks in June. They visited wildlands on the reservations to scientifically identify culturally significant plants. They also discussed possible technical assistance projects such as documenting ethnobotanical knowledge through oral histories to preserve it for each tribe, along with projects that would propagate and restore to their lands culturally significant plants that are disappearing.

Kat authors culturally significant plant guides for the PLANTS Database. These guides explain the importance of certain plants for Native Americans. Contact Kat Anderson, Ph.D. for more information.

NRCS meets with Tribal Leaders
L to R: Don Spaulding (tribal administrator),G. Stevens (NRCS), Kat Anderson (NRCS), Mr. Eduardo Anico, Checuakiah, M. Sykes (NRCS), Mr. Jesus Anico, Chakodata (council secretary),Mr. David J. Gonzalez, Kikekideah (council member), and Mr. Nanate Hernandez, Nanatea, (council member).

PLANTS Staff Assists Georgia with Wetland Descriptions

Identifies wetland plants, provides training
Wetland plants
Streambank spiderlily (Hymenocallis rotata), an obligate wetland plant of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain. Photo: Mark Garland

With high commodity prices, more wetlands are being converted to agriculture, and some of these conversions violate the Swampbuster provisions of the Food Security Act. In August, Mark Garland, botanist, National Plant Data Team, traveled to southeastern Georgia to assist Jim Lathem, resource soil scientist, in describing wetlands that will be used as reference sites for determinations under the Food Security Act. For a site to meet the federal definition of a wetland, it must have the appropriate hydrology, soil, and plants. Mark assisted in identifying the dominant species of plants on the sites and their wetland status under the new National Wetland Plant List (NWPL). He also provided training in wetland-plant identification.

In 2012, the National Wetland Plant List replaced the list of wetland plants that had been used by the U.S. government since 1988. The list is now updated yearly. The PLANTS Database includes the information from the 2012 National Wetland Plant List and will incorporate the 2013 update to the list shortly.
Contact Gerry Moore, Ph.D., leader, National Plant Data Team, for more information about the PLANTS Database and team activities.
Webinars, Live or Replay, Offer Continuing Education Units
Available at the Science and Technology Training Library
Science and Technology specialists have topped 120 archived webinars at our Science and Technology Training Library. This Web site provides an extensive assortment of online conservation training delivered by NRCS specialists and/or guest speakers representing ARS, universities, and other partners. Some employees may be familiar with the Science and Technology Training Library on SharePoint, our original training library. With SharePoint changes coming soon, we're devoting our energy to migrating all of our online webinars to the Science and Technology Training Library hosted at A big bonus that comes with this move is our webinar training is now readily available to partners and the public. Look for the NRCS raindrop as an indication of Science and Technology conservation training. 

The new and much-improved training library at also offers our webinar patrons an opportunity to earn continuing education units (CEUs) and participation certificates for live and replay webinars. Conservation Planner CEUs are available for all of our NRCS webinars and can be used by NRCS employees and technical service providers to document self-development training. In addition to our long-standing relationship with Certified Crop Advisors, we are now working with Society of American Foresters, American Forage and Grassland Council, Society for Range Management, and The Wildlife Society to offer credits that enable their professionals to meet certification requirements. Contact Holli Kuykendall, Ph.D., national technology specialist, or visit the Science and Technology Training Library to start expanding your horizons today!


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Pollinators Need Support More Than Ever

And pollinator plantings protect watersheds!
Pollinator planting
Photo: Nancy Adamson

Recent bee tragedies have reignited public and NRCS support for pollinators and other beneficial insects that also thrive in pollinator habitat. Upcoming day-long Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Courses are scheduled for Verona and Wytheville, Virginia (September 18 and 19) and Coffeeville and Newton, Mississippi (October 8 and 10). NRCS staff should sign up through their state biologist, but others can sign up at - Events. All are welcome.  


We are seeking pollinator demonstration sites in the East Region where farmers welcome visitors to share their experience in installing and/or managing habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects. Please contact Nancy Adamson, Ph.D. if you have demonstration farm suggestions. In the photo, a pollinator planting protects the watershed surrounding sinkholes on a farm in Sparta, Tennessee. A combination of CRP CP42 (Pollinator Habitat), CP29 (Buffer for Sensitive Areas), and CP22 (Riparian Buffer) provides perennials and shrubs/trees to protect riparian areas in a project coordinated by Tennessee NRCS Area Biologist Robin Mayberry.   


A one-hour East NTSC webinar encapsulating the importance of providing and protecting habitat for insects that pollinate plants and/or help control pest species (while also enhancing the diets of many birds, mammals, and other wildlife) can be viewed or downloaded as a slideshow at Farming for Beneficial Insects.


Blogging from the East NTSC Community (employee intranet)

USDA Connect Who receives our webinar announcements?

We are often asked about our ENTSC distribution for webinar announcements and who is receiving them. So, we're using our Community Blog at the new "NRCS Connect" employee intranet at USDA Connect to provide more information. You can join our subscriber list to receive our webinar announcements. Or, if you are a manager/supervisor, feel free to provide a list of employee email addresses, and we'll ensure our webinar announcements are delivered for you... no more forwards necessary. Continue reading at the ENTSC Community Blog


Annual webinar survey coming soon

Later this autumn, NRCS employees at the state level and below will have the opportunity to help shape our 2014 webinar schedule via our annual "Your Vote Counts" survey... but first we'll reach out to East Region state resource conservationists and state conservation engineers to develop a list of potential topics to include in the survey. Our ENTSC technical specialists are currently encouraging their state counterparts to push topics up the line so we receive them from state leadership. Our blog will provide more information on the solicitation for topics and our webinar survey. Follow our ENTSC Community to receive automated updates.
Webinars at the Science and Technology Training Library
Recently Announced Webinars
Featured Webinars from our Archives 

Not receiving ENTSC webinar announcements? Join our mailing list.  


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Assistance Highlights
East Region assistance map

Technical Assistance Delivery 

In the third quarter of FY2013, the Center provided assistance on 85 requests, of which 50 were direct assistance to states, 7 were regional, and 28 were national activities. In addition to direct assistance to the states, the Center supported 42 training events to a combined audience of more than 3,400 participants. Assistance by state is shown in the East Region NTSC service area map at right.  Contact National Technology Specialist Holli Kuykendall, Ph.D. for more information. 

Social Media 
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*Blog is employee intranet
ENTSC Videos Make Big Splash  
Our videos are being picked up by some impressive Web sites. The time is right to feature Winter Grazing - A Better Way to Feed (19,500 views) and that's just what has done. And, with assistance from Ron Nichols, NRCS Unlock the Secrets in the Soil campaign manager, Under Cover Farmers (40,000 views) is featured by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation's We've had dozens of new subscribers to our YouTube Channel as a result.

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employee-newsEmployee News

Mr. Burns Heads Home to Kentucky    

kerry robinson retires
Anthony Burns (left) and Kerry Robinson (right) celebrate the grand opening of the ENTSC in 2008. Both Anthony and Kerry retired this year. 
In our last newsletter and feature on Kerry Robinson's retirement, we left you with "Now, what's to become of his sidekick, Mr. Burns?" Now we know. Anthony Burns, national technology specialist, retired at the end of April with 36 years of federal service. Anthony came to the ENTSC by way of state resource conservationist and GIS specialist positions in Georgia and district and soil conservationist positions in his home state of Kentucky. In fact, it's rumored that Anthony is returning to live in the county where he served as DC. We suspect he'll reminisce about conservation practices in the area and simply enjoy life on the property he and wife Sherry eventually settle. We know for sure that he can't sit still for long before he'll be laying wood floors, putting up cabinets and creating Anthony and Sherry's traditional kitchen. We wish Anthony many years of blissful retirement.