Karen Woodrich, State Conservationist
Karen is originally from north central Wisconsin in the town of Wausau, where she was raised on a small dairy farm and later a Christmas tree farm. She always enjoyed the outdoors but when she took an Earth Science class in high school, she became more interested in geology and decided to focus her future on soils and their importance in the long term sustainability of life itself. Karen graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, with a Bachelor’s degree in Soil Science.
After college, Karen began her professional career as a soil scientist with the US Forest Service in northern Minnesota. She later worked for Central Wisconsin Engineers & Architects conducting soil and water monitoring, sampling and analysis across the state in landfills, fuel stations, and construction sites. She started her career with NRCS in 1998 in Portage, Michigan as a soil conservationist then transferred back to Wisconsin where she served as a soil conservationist in Wisconsin Rapids, Portage (Wisconsin), and then in Shawano. Karen was promoted to district conservationist in Merrill and then transferred to Dodgeville before leaving her home state of Wisconsin.
Karen’s proudest moments have always been seeing her employees promote and achieve their own career goals. She had the opportunity to influence even more employees when she was selected as the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Fort Dodge, Iowa where she was responsible for leading the conservation efforts for an entire area. The experience Karen gained in that position along with the following position as Assistant State Conservationist for Operations in Champaign, Illinois, prepared her for her current position as the State Conservationist for NRCS in Kentucky.
Karen became the first female State Conservationist in Kentucky in 2011. As State Conservationist in Kentucky, Karen manages all of the voluntary conservation programs assigned to the NRCS according to the Farm Bill. She has the opportunity to speak to many different agriculture and environmental audiences and loves the opportunity to promote Soil Health as well as share with others about the many success stories that are taking place across the state. She currently serves as an officer of the Bluegrass Chapter Soil and Water Conservation Society. Karen also serves Kentucky on the KY Ag Water Quality Authority and represents NRCS on the Ky Ag Council.
Karen loves the warmer (than Wisconsin) climate of Kentucky and spends her free time in the warmer months working in the garden and soaking up the sun by the pool. She and Chi have been married 17 years and they enjoy serving as youth leaders and Sunday school teachers at their church in Taylorsville, Kentucky. Karen also leads a women’s Bible study.