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April 2015 ......

 

Drenda Williams. NOPBNRCSE PresidentFrom the President
Drenda Williams

I would like to start out by thanking all of the members and partners and friends for their support of the National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE).  With each year The Organization continues to grow, establish new partnerships, and to carry out its mission.  As President, it is my privilege to serve this distinguished organization, which was established in 1992 to enhance the awareness, knowledge, and understanding of NRCS as well as identify and address the concerns of employees, landowners/operators, and partners. I would like to thank Terry Cosby, the Immediate Past President, and the Executive Board members who served for the past two years and provided leadership to The Organization.  Additionally, Vivian Dickson dedicated countless hours to plan another exceptional Expo this past December and I look forward to showcasing her talents at the 2015 Outreach and Ag Expo this year December 4-6, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.

I would like to dedicate the 1st eLink of 2015 to those who served before us in order to get The Organization to where we are today and those individuals who are our Founding Members.  Without your hard work, will, and dedication, we would not have the thriving organization we have today and for that I thank you.  This is an important part of our history and in honor of Black History we will continue to highlight events in our eLinks throughout the year.

This year has gotten off to a fast start! Over the next two years The Organization will focus on four key areas: Professional Development, Outreach, Recruitment, and Partnerships.  Please look in the members section of the website to see more information about each specific focus area; however, some of the up and coming activities will be to:

  1. Implement the NOPBNRCSE Mentoring Program.
  2. Establish partnerships with additional Community Based Organizations who could benefit from the annual Expo.
  3. Provide funding to Chapters who submit proposals for implementing activities to enhance chapter operations.
  4. Continue to survey landowners to collect information about what items they would like assistance on for their operations.
  5. Establish a partnership with Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences to assist with recruitment efforts for NRCS internships.
  6. Increase awareness about The Organization to present, past, and potential members as well as the community.

The Organization was showcased at the Minority Landowner Magazine Conference in Houston, Texas that was held Feb 26-28th and we look forward to continuing this partnership and serving as part of the Farm Turn Around Team.  I look forward to making myself available to the chapters and members if they have meetings and/or special events they would like The Organization to participate in. 

In order for the NOPBNRCSE to be successful, it will take each and every one of us to volunteer our personal time to carry out its mission.  As President, I will have an open door policy so members, partners, and prospective members can contact me through the various communications tools we have available.  Again, I look forward to serving each and every one of you over the next two years and I thank you for electing me as the 2015-2017 NOPBNRCSE President.



Drenda Williams
President NOPBNRCSE

 

 Meet the New Board Members
Erika BoylandCorrespondence Secretary Erika Boyland
Soil Conservationist, California

Erika started her career with NRCS in 2004 as a student trainee in Kentucky, where she was first introduced to the NOPBNRCSE as a student through the Kentucky chapter and the MANRRS program.  In 2009, she started fulltime with the agency working as a Soil Conservationist in Iowa, where she has gone on many details for CSP, EQIP and CRP throughout the state.  While working in Iowa, she served on various collateral duty teams, committees (Area Compliance Team, Quality Assurance Team, Toolkit Cadre and Area Quality Steering Team) and served on the Iowa Civil Rights Committee as the Black Special Emphasis Program Manager.  In 2013, she was promoted to a Soil Conservationist position in California.  Currently she has the role as the lead conservation planner in her office where she plays a vital role in the day to day actions within her office from providing trainings and mentoring staff members, responsibility for the office outreach activities, partnership development, and providing leadership when the District Conservationist is not present.

Erika was born in Memphis, TN but was raised in St. Louis, MO.  She has received both her B.S. (2006) and M.S. (2009) in Agriculture Science with a concentration in business from Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN.

Erika started her career with NRCS in 2004 as a student trainee in Kentucky, where she was first introduced to the NOPBNRCSE as a student through the Kentucky chapter and the MANRRS program.  In 2009, she started fulltime with the agency working as a Soil Conservationist in Iowa, where she has gone on many details for CSP, EQIP and CRP throughout the state.  While working in Iowa, she served on various collateral duty teams, committees (Area Compliance Team, Quality Assurance Team, Toolkit Cadre and Area Quality Steering Team) and served on the Iowa Civil Rights Committee as the Black Special Emphasis Program Manager.  In 2013, she was promoted to a Soil Conservationist position in California.  Currently she has the role as the lead conservation planner in her office where she plays a vital role in the day to day actions within her office from providing trainings and mentoring staff members, responsibility for the office outreach activities, partnership development, and providing leadership when the District Conservationist is not present.

Erika was born in Memphis, TN but was raised in St. Louis, MO.  She has received both her B.S. (2006) and M.S. (2009) in Agriculture Science with a concentration in business from Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN.
She is currently serving as the Secretary of the California-Nevada Chapter for the SWCS.

Renata ElliotRecording Secretary Renata Elliot
Soil Conservationist, Texas

Renata Elliott was selected for participation in the USDA Student Educational Employment Program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a Student Trainee within Soil Conservation in Athens, TX starting June 2003, and completing it December 2003, in Natchez, MS.  She has spent the last 11 years working directly with producers as a Soil Conservationist in three of the five zones in Texas.

The Mississippi native received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture Economics from Alcorn State University, located in Lorman, MS.  She later earned a Master of Business Administration with an Accounting Certification from Texas Woman’s University while being employed with the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Elliott is a member of the Texas Chapter of NOPBNRCSE where she serves on the Newsletter Subcommittee.

Her spare time is spent with her husband and their son, along with being a very active member in her church, Morse Street Baptist, as a choir member, serving on the women ministry board, and also the finance committee.

Sheldon HightowerParliamentarian
Sheldon Hightower
ASTC for Field Operations, Kansas

 
Sheldon Hightower, a native of Ada, Oklahoma, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Business, with a minor in Crop and Soil Science in 1999 from Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma.   

Sheldon began his career under the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Student Career Employment Program in 1996, as a student trainee in Oklahoma and Minnesota. He worked as a Soil Conservationist in Minnesota for two years.  In 2002, Sheldon was selected as the District Conservationist in Ulysses, Kansas. In 2003, he also served as Acting Rural Conservation and Development (RC&D) Coordinator and District Conservationist in Hugoton, Kansas. In 2005, Sheldon was transferred to Emporia, Kansas to serve as an Area Resource Conservationist and also served four years as the Black Emphasis Program Manager. In 2008, he was transferred to Hutchinson, Kansas and continued to serve as an Area Resource Conservationist.

Sheldon served as Acting National Grassland Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Program Manager, Washington, D.C. in 2009; and as Acting Assistant State Conservationist-Field Operations in Pennsylvania in 2010. In 2010, Sheldon was selected for Assistant State Conservationist, assigned two year appointment as Chair of the Civil Rights Advisory Committee, and the Lake Ontario Coordinator for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in New York. In 2013, Sheldon was detailed as Acting State Conservationist of Nevada.      

Currently, Sheldon is the Assistant State Conservationist in Hutchinson, Kansas. He is responsible for the 28 south central and western counties in his Administrative Area.

Sheldon is a life member of The Organization. He has served on the Election and Budget committees; and was President of the Kansas Chapter of NOPBNRCSE.

Jaqueline Thibodeaux-HorneHistorian
Jaqueline Thibodeaux-Horne
Human Resources Specialist, Texas


Jacqueline Thibodeaux Horne is a Public Affairs Specialist for the National Employee Development Center (NEDC) in Fort Worth, Texas.  She has 28 years of service with the Agency and has held positions as Soil Conservationist Trainee in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and Soil Conservationists in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Chandler, Arizona.  After six years of working in the field, Jacque decided to hang up her boots, and competed and was selected for the Soil Conservation Service Administrative Trainee Program in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She served as the Human Resources Specialist for Nebraska; Human Resources Specialist in Fort Worth, Texas for the South Central Region; Acting Human Resources Officer for Georgia; and is currently serving as Acting Director, for Talent Management Division in Washington, D.C.  

Jacqueline is a certified Mediator for the DFW-Federal Executive Board Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee; NRCS Master Facilitator; NEDC Instructor; member of the North Texas Chapter of Blacks In Government and Eta Phi Beta Sorority.  She is a Life member of The Organization, and has served in many capacities including Chair, HBCU Scholarship Committee; Chair, Employee Career and Development Committee; Communication Committee member; Correspondence Secretary; South Central Regional Rep (two-terms); and moderator and workshop presenter for the national training conferences.

Jacqueline is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and holds a B.S. degree in Plant and Soil Science from Southern University.  She attends Cornerstone Baptist Church, in Arlington, TX and serves on the Usher Ministry.  Her hobbies include decorating, traveling, visiting museums, and making Pralines. She is married and has two step-daughters.
 
 Black History Year Round
The National Organization of Black NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE) celebrates Black History not only in February but all year around. Within The Organization as well as NRCS, Black employees have made tremendous contributions. As a tribute to many of the Black firsts throughout the agency, two posters were developed to highlight these trailblazing employees and their accomplishments.  

Take a moment to view the employees shown on the posters below and celebrate with them in their accomplishments.
 
 Getting to Know Your Committee Chairs
Membership Committee chairman, Marcus Patrick, is a four year veteran of the NRCS. After serving our country in the United States Army, he attended and obtained a degree from Fayetteville State University. While with the NRCS, he has served as a human resource specialist, acquisitions specialist, and leasing specialist. Currently, Marcus is working as an acquisitions specialist in Greensboro, North Carolina; as a result of the agency’s administration transformation, he also provides detail support for the state of Arkansas. He values the leadership and guidance NOPBNRCSE offers and wants others to learn, grow, and benefit from being a part of the organization. Marcus can always be reached at m.patrick910@hotmail.com, if anyone would like to join or learn more about the National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees and/or Membership Committee.
 
2015 Expo Update
2015 Expo
The Expo room block at the Atlanta Airport Marriott is now open! You can make reservations by calling 800-228-9290 and ask for the National Organization for Professional Black NRCS Employees room at the special rate of $90.00.

Book your group rate: National Organization for Black NRCS Employees
 
 Gone but Not Forgotten
Rick Porter
  Rick Porter
 May 7, 1954 – January 2, 2015
 http://www.penwellgabelolathe.com/obituary/96469/Rickey-Porter/Olathe-Kansas
 
Cutrina Moreland
Cutrina Moreland
March 21, 1973 – January 18, 2015
http://www.templeandsons.com/visitations.php?id=1784
 
William Hunt

A Tribute…
William “Bill” Hunt: A Passionate Advocate for Conservation and Diversity
By Sylvia Rainford, Public Affairs Specialist-Media, National Headquarters

Bill Hunt, affectionately known to many Organization members and NRCS employees, passed away on February 22, 2015.

I knew Bill for more than 25 years when he served as the Deputy State Conservationist in Pennsylvania and as State Conservationist in Minnesota. In fact, he lured me from “simply cold” Harrisburg, PA to “insanely cold” St. Paul, Minnesota to serve as his state Public Affairs Specialist and Black Emphasis Program Manager. Bill had a way of doing that. I also served as his Recording Secretary during his first term as President of The Organization.

During the years I have known Bill, he was always a visionary, leader and advocate for diversity.  He demonstrated those qualities in all aspects of his life.

Bill served as The Organization's President for two terms. He truly was a visionary and trailblazer during those terms. He had many successes during his tenure. For instance, when he first became President, there were less than five Life members. When he left office, there were at least 100. He also initiated the Sustaining Life Member category to help sustain our organization.

He was also a strong advocate of The Organization’s independence. He planted the seeds that have now borne fruit. He believed The Organization should be independent and determine its own destiny, including running its own annual conference with minimal assistance from NRCS. He lived long enough to see that dream come true. He also took other steps to sustain The Organization’s independence; the Executive Board appreciates that tremendously to this day.

Bill's commitment to diversity throughout his career also tremendously impacted the careers of many NRCS employees. Other minority and female employees he recruited, promoted and/or mentored in Minnesota and Pennsylvania include Ann English, State Conservationist in South Carolina (Minnesota); Carlos Suarez, State Conservationist in California (Pennsylvania); Kevin Farmer, National Watershed Rehabilitation Coordinator (Minnesota); Kasey Taylor, State Conservationist in Delaware (Minnesota); Tim Wilson, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, Minnesota; Barry Hamilton, National Tribal Affairs Liaison, National Headquarters (Minnesota) and R. Phou Vongkhamdy, State Conservationist in Rhode Island (Minnesota); Cutrina Moreland (deceased), Former Outreach Coordinator, State Volunteer Coordinator and Special Emphasis Program Manager in Minnesota, and countless others.

Bill's legendary passion for conservation spurred extraordinary accomplishments during his stellar 44-year career with NRCS. As a state conservationist in Minnesota, he and his leadership team achieved major accomplishments such as the establishment of the National Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge. The Snake River Watershed Project continues to protect the town of Warren from persistent flooding and saved them millions of dollars once it was completed.

Bill also loved to work with diverse partners and customers, especially Minnesota’s Hmong population and11 tribes. One of his crowning achievements was the establishment of the national Center of Excellence at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. The center focused on soil science map compilation and provided career opportunities for students in soil science.

Bill retired from NRCS in 2007; however, his legacy will live on through his conservation contributions and the diverse employees he recruited and promoted throughout his career.

 



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