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June 2015 ......

 

Drenda Williams. NOPBNRCSE PresidentFrom the President
Drenda Williams

Summer is here! As many of you are getting ready for vacation, we would like to keep you updated with what is going on with the NOPBNRCSE. In this edition of the eLink you will see the 2014 Expo highlights, the Pearlie S. Reed Excellence in Conservation Award and the Lloyd Wright Small Farm Award nomination announcements, newly elected Regional Reps, our social media updates, and much more. 


In July, we will be hosting Regional Teleconferences which will be held as follows:
Tuesday, August 11
10:30 am EST – Southeast Region
 1:30 pm CST – South Central and West Regions
Wednesday, August 12
10:30 am EST – East and NHQ Region
10:30 am CST – Northern Plains and Midwest Region

We look forward to everyone’s participation and more information will be coming soon. If you have any agenda items you would like discussed please send them to executiveboard@thenopbnrcse.org.

Our Going Green campaign will start soon.  With this initiative every member will be given the opportunity to select whether they will opt in to utilize electronic communications. This initiative is designed to eliminate costs and time to mail hard copy documents. Instead electronic methods such as email and other social media formats will be used to share information.

This year the Executive Board has voted to accept memberships throughout the year without any late fee.  The $60 annual fee was due January 31; however, you still can still join The Organization with no additional fees.  I encourage you to be a part of the  first and largest NRCS Employee Organization.

Vivian Dickson, Planning Chair and Terry Cosby, Immediate Past President have been working on this year’s Expo agenda. A draft agenda will come out this summer so you can see what we have in store for members and partners who attend the Expo.  If you haven’t made hotel arrangements, you can book them now for the low rate of $90/night.  This eLink will include additional information on how to reserve your room under The Organization’s room block.

As always, I have an open door policy so feel free to contact me if you have any concerns, items you would like the Executive Board to consider, and/or great things you would like to share that are going on in your region or chapter.

Enjoy your summer!



Drenda Williams
President NOPBNRCSE

 

2014 Expo Highlights

READ ALL ABOUT IT! If you didn't have a chance to attend the Expo, you don't have to miss out completely. A publication has been developed which captures all of the highlights of the Expo.

Or, even if you did attend and want to refresh your memory of all of the wonderful speakers, workshops and activities that were held, make sure you read this compilation.

Click here for the 2014 Expo Highlights

2015 Award Nominations
  •   THE LLOYD WRIGHT SMALL FARMER OF THE YEAR AWARD. To be eligible for this award, the nominee must meet the NRCS definition for Small Farmer/Rancher, but they do not have to be currently enrolled in an NRCS program.  Nominations must be post marked no later than October 2, 2015. 2015  Nomination Form

 

  • The Pearlie S. Reed Excellence in Conservation Award is the National Organization of Professional Black Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees highest environmental honor.  The award will recognize an individual who is a member of “The Organization” that has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable contributions to their community and in conserving, protecting and enhancing our precious natural resources. 2015 Nomination Form
 
 For The Chapters...
  • The Executive Board of the Organization recognizes that many of our local chapters have efforts that would help to support our purpose. These efforts can enhance awareness, knowledge and understanding of the NRCS programs and operating procedures by employees and improve their level of education and professional development in order to increase the participation of Blacks in agriculture, natural resources and related fields. These efforts can be advanced by financial support from the National Chapter. These efforts will also generate greater local participation in the Organization. Please contact your Regional Representative for more information.  For those chapters who have proposals ready, you can also submit them through your Regional Rep at this time.

  • Showcase your Chapter and all of the great things that are happening around the country.  This year we will be awarding The Organization Chapter of the Year, so continue to submit articles about the exciting things your chapter has been doing.  More information will be coming regarding nominations.

            

McNeil Project

                       

In honor of the late Freddie McNeil, Mia McNeil’s family has created a 501c3 Public Charity that focuses on his many passions during his lifetime.  Mia McNeil is the daughter of the late Freddie McNeil, who passed away in September of 2014.  He was a former president of the Michigan Chapter, and an active and very dedicated member of the Organization during his tenure with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.   Mr. McNeil was a graduate of Tennessee State University, and started working with NRCS as a student intern in Montana.  From Montana, he moved to Aiken, South Carolina, where he started his first job with the USDA.  He later moved to Michigan where he worked in several different, field offices.  He was a faithful member of the Organization, always promoting diversity within the USDA - particularly within the NRCS.   The McNeil family is seeking ways to provide support for Mr. McNeil’s life passion in an effort to see that his work continues.

Specific areas of Mr. McNeil’s work included Tennessee State University and urban gardening.  The charity formed by the McNeil family will provide scholarships to eligible applicants in the area of urban gardening.  Individuals interested in the Freddie McNeil Project can find additional information at the website, www.thefreddiemcneilproject.org, and on face book at, www.facebook.com/freddiemcneilproject.
 
Contact information for the Freddie McNeil Project is listed below:
 
MIA D. MCNEIL
517-371-1400 x 118 DIRECT
517-974-8484 MOBILE
mmcneil@kelley-cawthorne.com


Meet Our Regional Representatives  

Evelyn Whitesides
South Carolina

Evelyn Whitesides began her position as the South Carolina State Resource Conservationist of the Natural Resource Conservation Service in 2011.

Evelyn was raised in Detroit, MI and spent her summers between Caswell County, North Carolina and McCool, Mississippi on the family “hobby” farms.  She graduated from Tennessee State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Science with a concentration in Business.

Evelyn has held several positions in the Agency, including student trainee, Soil Conservationist, District Conservationist, and Resource Conservationist in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and North Carolina.  She has served as a Boot Camp Instructor, as an Acting State Conservationist in both North Carolina and South Carolina, Acting Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations/Operations in South Carolina, Acting State Soil Scientist in South Carolina, on the National Appeals Cadre, and on various other details.

Evelyn is a life member of The Organization.  She is married and has two children. 

 Joe Buford
Resource Conservationist, Oklahoma 

 
Joe Buford is a Resource Conservationist on the Ecological Science and Planning Division for the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Oklahoma.  Throughout his career, he has held positions with NRCS as a Soil Conservationist, Water Quality Coordinator, District Conservationist, and Supervisory Soil Conservationist in Kansas and Utah.  While in various field offices, he enjoyed “Helping People Help the Land, “and in the same fashion he is excited and eager to “Serve People, Helping the Land” at the State Office in Oklahoma.


A member of The Organization since 2005, Joe actively serves in many capacities currently as the South Central Regional Representative and newly chartered Oklahoma Chapter Vice-President, and previously as the Executive Board as the Northern Plains Regional Representative.  He is excited and fired up about the opportunity to serve the South Central Region and carry out the mission of the Organization.  Joe is a native of Langston, Oklahoma, and holds a B.S. degree in Natural Resource Management with a minor in Agribusiness from Langston University in Langston, OK and a M.S. degree in Environmental Studies from Friends University in Wichita, KS. 

Outside of work, you can find Joe working with Wynea and his three girls on the farm, serving as a trustee in church, serving as Chief of the Langston Fire Department, and/or encouraging someone to “press on and remember we walk by faith and not sight.” 


“Life at times will give you wrinkles, but find a way to press on.”


Marian. Jordan
California

                      

Marian. Jordan is currently a soil conservationist in southern California where she focuses much of her time on extending conservation assistance to beginning and historically underrepresented farmers. Here, she has served as a member of the Area 4 program technical team, and also its National Resource Inventory cadre.

Jordan began her career with NRCS as a soil conservationist trainee in Wisconsin and later accepted a full-time position as a soil conservationist. During her tenure, she focused on planning, program implementation, and local workgroup and community partnerships. Jordan has provided leadership to respective field offices during the District Conservationist’s absence, she has served as acting Area Program Specialist, and has also coordinated and/or collaborated on several outreach activities. In addition, Jordan served as a member of the Nutrient Management Quality Assurance Team with the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Jordan is an active member of The Organization having provided assistance to the Expo planning committee; previously serving as Recording Secretary, and now as the West Regional Representative. She believes commitment to the mission and goals of the NOPBNRCSE greatly benefits the body, its members, the farmers, and the individual.

Jordan received a BS in Biology and an MS in Agronomy from Alcorn State University.

 

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
 Minority Landowner Conference Highlights

Recently the National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE) participated in the 2015 Minority Landowner Magazine’s 9thAnniversary Conference held in Houston, Texas.  President Drenda Williams served as a general session speaker to inform conference participants about the Organization’s purpose and how we can be of service to the landowner and other community-based organizations.  Approximately 200 agricultural industry professionals, agencies and businesses were in attendance at the conference.

The Organization was honored to be represented to serve during the general session, as well as to be an exhibitor during one of the largest conferences held in celebration of the Minority Landowner Magazine’s Anniversary.   Organization members had an opportunity to speak with producers, as well as to administer a survey to collect data to help determine ways to better serve them.  They were also able to hear interesting success stories provided by producers.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with Victor Harris, editor of the Minority Landowner Magazine, in years to come.

This year’s conference was dedicated in memory of Helen DuBose, known as the First Lady of Black Agriculture, who passed away January 24, 2015 at the age of 96.

Welcome to Maryland Dr. Hillsman!

Terron L. Hillsman, Ph.D.
Maryland State Conservationist

Dr. Terron Hillsman is currently serving as the leader for NRCS in Maryland as the newly selected State Conservationist.

Dr. Hillsman was born and raised on a small family farm in West Tennessee. He began his career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service in 1992, as a student trainee, while majoring in Agriculture at Tennessee State University (TSU). During his 23 years with the agency, Dr. Hillsman has worked as a soil conservationist, State Outreach Coordinator, and nine years as a district conservationist in the state of Tennessee, with the exception of brief detail assignments in South Carolina as the State Resource Conservationist and State Administrative Officer. Prior to his current selection, he served as Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations for the NRCS in Massachusetts.

In addition to earning his B.S. in Agriculture from TSU, Dr. Hillsman also earned a M.A. in Organizational Management from Tusculum College and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee. He was adjunct faculty in the Management Department of Tusculum College from 2008-2012 and a Senior Lecturer in the College of Business at Western New England University in Springfield, MA where he taught courses in organizational behavior, management, and leadership.

In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities such as cycling and hunting. He and his wife Natasha have a 9 year-old son, Donovan.   

 
 The Rick Porter Scholarship
by Benjamin Allen, Kansas Chapter President

The Kansas Chapter of The National Organization of Professional Black NRCS employees is committed to providing a $500 scholarship in honor of the late Rick Porter. The “Rick Porter Scholarship” is designed for a deserving student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the Agricultural Science related field at one of the eighteen 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions. The Chapter decided to pursue this scholarship on behalf of Rick Porter during a chapter meeting in on April 2015.

Rick was committed to volunteer conservation efforts and earned numerous national, state and local awards for this passion  including:  NOPBNRCSE Pearlie Reed Award (for his Commitment to Excellence); Hillsdale Water Quality Project Volunteer Years of Service Award; National RC&D Award (for his work on the NRCS Feedback Supervisor Team in 1996); USDA Certificates of Merit in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1993; FFA Honorary Chapter Farmer Award; Two Friends of the Water Awards; and the USDA Coordinator Skill Assessment Award. Rick Porter was a Life Member of The Organization and a dedicated member to the Kansas Chapter. He was an outstanding recruiter and mentor to several NRCS employees; he strongly believed in the advancement of minorities across the country. 

Committee members will select an applicant and present the scholarship to the student prior to the fall session of every year. The Kansas chapter hopes to impact the life of a deserving student which will continue the cycle of helping others!

Did You Know?
  • The Organization Brochure is now available.  Also if you have any additional needs for use of the stationary or PowerPoint template, please look in the members section.
  • There are no late fees for 2015 dues.
  • Recently the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey was distributed to selected employees. More than 35,000 USDA full-time and part-time employees were randomly selected by OPM to take the 2015 survey. Thanks for taking the time to let your voice be heard.
                           

Coming Soon! !

Every member will be given the opportunity to select whether or not they would like to opt in to utilize electronic communications. The Going Green initiative is designed to eliminate the costs and time associated with mail hard copy documents. If you opt in for this initiative, you would receive important information and updates electronically—such as via email and other social media formats.

Support The Organization’s Going Green Initiative!

 
                         

                     
 



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