A NEW DAY FOR GEORGIA CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
Macon, Georgia – The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD) recently hosted A New Day for Georgia Conservation Districts, bringing together conservation district supervisors, conservation personnel, and conservation partners from across Georgia. The meeting served as both a kickoff meeting for a new initiative led by GACD and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as well as District Supervisor Training.
The meeting began with a welcome from our host, Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long. Following these opening remarks, GACD President Woody Snell introduced the new GACD leadership team and structure. Casey Cox will lead GACD as Executive Director, with Katie Sponberger and Michelle Boone coordinating with Districts across the state as regional Program Managers.
President Snell provided some brief history and updates of GACD, including the formation of several new committees and encouraged Supervisors to volunteer on these committees. GACD has formed the following committees: Structure & Staffing Committee, Legislative Liaison Committee, Watershed Dams Task Force, District Revitalization Committee, Wildlife Impact Committee, and Alternative Plan Review Committee.
Roger Bowman, GACD Secretary / Treasurer, and Casey Cox then introduced the Georgia Conservation District Initiative, a partnership between GACD and NRCS that will advance conservation delivery throughout the state of Georgia. Bowman provided the background and context of this initiative, and Cox provided further details on the new District Program Assistants (DPAs) that GACD will be contracting with over the next few months.
President Snell then welcomed Jeremy Peters, CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) to provide remarks. Peters provided an overview of NACD’s role and responsibilities, detailing their support of Districts nationwide. He also shared insight with audience members of current and upcoming opportunities for Georgia.
Leaders from GACD and our partner agencies gathered together in the front of the room to serve on a partner panel, with President Snell as the moderator. Panelists provided a brief update from their respective agencies and then entertained questions from Snell as well as audience members. The partner panelists included the following representatives: Terrance Rudolph, Georgia State Conservationist (USDA NRCS); Jeffrey Harvey, Director of Public Policy (Georgia Farm Bureau); Alec Asbridge, Director of Operations (Georgia Department of Agriculture); Dr. Laura Perry Johnson, Associate Dean for Extension (University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences); Casey Cox, Executive Director (GACD); Mitch Attaway, Executive Director (Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission); and Jeremy Peters, CEO (NACD).
During lunch, GACD conducted regional group meetings while individual districts and NRCS also held meetings. Following lunch, GACD commenced the Supervisor Training portion of the day’s meeting.
Phylis Vandevere, NACD Southeast Representative, provided an overview of District Management, including the basics of conducting a meeting, keeping records, and general District administration.
Jeffrey Harvey with Georgia Farm Bureau discussed effective approaches to policy from his perspective. He also highlighted the many commonalities between Georgia Farm Bureau and GACD, and how the two entities may be able to partner on policy initiatives in the future.
Casey Cox spotlighted local success stories from conservation districts across Georgia, showcasing a myriad of District-led projects in the urban, agricultural, education, and outreach sectors. Cox encouraged Districts to learn from each other and borrow ideas across the State to advance conservation.
Luke Crosson, UGA Extension Educator and Director of the Natural Resources Conservation Workshop (NRCW), provided an update on the 2017 NRCW and thanked Supervisors for their continued commitment to the Workshop.
Overall, A New Day for Georgia Conservation Districts charted an exciting path forward for GACD and the 40 Districts it represents.