Joy Martin, NRCS soil conservationist for the Newkirk
Field Office, returned recently from a seven-week temporary detail
assignment to the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Despite good hearted razzing
from fellow employees about such a “terrible” assignment location,
Martin carried out a lot of the same job duties that she completes daily
in Oklahoma, only on different crops.
Each year, NRCS celebrates its diversity through
special emphasis months. November is designated as American Indian
Heritage Month. This provides an opportunity to create a greater
awareness of the history of American Indians and their contributions to
The LeFlore, Haskell and Latimer Counties, along with the Talihina
Conservation District hosted a meeting for poultry producers and small
businesses at the Choctaw Family Investment Center
in the Poteau Industrial Park.
For the second year in a row, the American Indian
Alaska Native Employees Association (AIANEA) and the Asian Pacific
Islander Organization (APIO) held a joint employee training conference.
This year’s conference took place in Spokane, Washington, August 11-15,
P.J. Martin grew up in the western Oklahoma community
of Clinton. While he lived in town, he spent his spare time working on
his great uncle’s farm, where he helped with wheat farming, stocker and
feeder cattle and a cow calf operation.
“Expanding Partnerships for a Thriving Oklahoma”
was the theme for the Oklahoma Association of Resource Conservation and
Development Council’s (OARCDC) annual state summit. Over 110 partners
and council members from across the state attended the event August
10-12 at the Clarion Conference Center in Oklahoma City.
“You just never know what is going to happen in life,
so be prepared.” These were the words of advice Reonna
Slagell-Gossen’s parents told her often as she was growing up on their
farm north of Weatherford, Oklahoma. They also told her she needed to
learn as much as she could, about as many things as she could, so she
would be ready for anything.
The Choctaw Nation Event Center was the site for the “Xtreme Ability is
Power” Youth Summit 2008. This event, sponsored by the Choctaw Nation,
Big Five Community Services, Southern Workforce Board, KEDDO,
Southeastern Workforce Board, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation,
Citizen Pottawatomi Nation, OK Department of Career Tech, Kiamichi
Technology Center, Governor’s State Youth Council, Department of
Rehabilitation Services and the OK Department of Commerce, is continuing
to grow as youth and young adults from all over the state of Oklahoma
flock to this annual event that began in 2007.
The LeFlore and Haskell County Conservation Districts
hosted an outreach meeting for Asian and Beginning Poultry Producers on
July 15th at the Choctaw Community Center near Spiro. Fifty-two (52)
participants attended the meeting. Pooh Vongkhamdy, Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS), was moderator and interpreter for the
meeting. The topics were designed to cover the basics for a poultry
operation to be in compliance with Oklahoma Department of Agriculture
regulations and use environmentally sound best management practices,
according to Kenneth Risenhoover, NRCS, District Conservationist.
Oil and water do mix. In fact, they are just two of
the valuable by-products that can be harvested when Eastern Redcedar
trees are removed from rangeland.
Marketing products from cedar trees and the benefits of reclaiming
grassland invaded by cedar were among the many topics discussed at the
2-day conference “Eastern Redcedars: From Peril to Profit” held July 8
and 9 in Oklahoma City.
It is officially the “worst of times” in the Oklahoma Panhandle. On June
19, the US Drought Monitor upgraded the situation to its most severe
drought rating: “D4 – Exceptional” for Cimarron and Texas Counties.
Despite conditions that are even dryer than the historic Dust Bowl of
the 1930s, another catastrophic dust bowl is being averted thanks to
conservation practices that have been put in place for the last 70
When nearly 10 inches of rain fell in the Tulsa area
April 7-10, rushing floodwaters damaged the only access road bridge to
the Bixby Ranch Estates subdivision in the city of Bixby, 20 miles
southeast of Tulsa. Damage to the bridge was so severe the Bixby city
officials temporarily suspended access to the subdivision by emergency
vehicles and school buses.
Spring Fever has been in full swing in classrooms across Oklahoma. The
nice days have both teachers and students begging to be outside instead
of stuck inside working on lessons from their school books.
The Second Annual Eastern Oklahoma Ag Trade Show was held at
the LeFlore County Fairgrounds just south of Poteau, Oklahoma on
Wednesday, April 30, 2008. Approximately 600 people attended the event,
according to Kenneth Risenhoover, Natural Resources Conservation
Service, District Conservationist in Poteau.
Stephens County NRCS Field Office staff organized an Outdoor Classroom
in Marlow, Oklahoma for 4th graders to help celebrate Earth Day, this
past Tuesday, April 22. Dana Davis, NRCS district conservationist in
Duncan, Oklahoma, the Stephens County Conservation District, and NRCS
offices worked to provide students with 11 presenters during the event,
including Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Conservation Commission and
others. ABC News affiliate KSWO in Lawton, Oklahoma attended the event
and featured a 3 minute video segment in their news program on Tuesday
evening. The story below is taken from that news segment, with a link to
the video on the KSWO website.
Oklahoma schools are receiving over 600 “new” computer systems thanks
to donations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offices in Oklahoma
and Arkansas. USDA offices recently received new equipment to update their computer
systems. This replacement process made 603 older computer systems
available for donation to educational institutions in Oklahoma, through
Executive Order 1299.
In February 2008, Jim Green, NRCS District Conservationist in Idabel,
Oklahoma, went to Afghanistan on a 13-month detail as part of the USDA’s
commitment to help rebuild agriculture and food security in Afghanistan.
Part of Green’s mission is to help provide technical assistance for the
reconstruction of Afghanistan’s agricultural sector. Read a letter Green
sent home to his NRCS family.
The ASCOG RC&D Council has worked cooperatively with the Cross Timbers
and High Plains RC&D Councils to conduct six two-day Grant Writing
Workshops across the State of Oklahoma during the past eleven months.
These workshops have provided Level I and Level II grant writing
training to a total of 80 participants, representing 23 different
communities and 27 different organizations across the state.
The Great Plains RC&D is named the Outstanding RC&D Council in the
six-state region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and
Louisiana. The award was presented during the Southwest States RC&D
Association annual meeting and banquet March 4th, in St. Louis,
Missouri. The Council was recognized for their balanced approach to
projects with social, economic, and environmental purposes in response
to local priority concerns by building local working relationships for
conserving and developing natural resources that enhance the quality of
life in the RC&D area communities.
The Muskogee County Conservation District (MCCD) will soon be opening
“The Bonnie & Richard Geer Nature Sanctuary” thanks to a generous
donation. On March 14, Bonnie Geer, of Tulsa, donated 152 acres of land
to the MCCD to be used as a nature, wildlife and bird sanctuary.
If you live in Oklahoma, you are involved in agriculture – either
directly or indirectly. Every Oklahoman depends on agriculture for food
and fiber as a necessary part of their every day life. Oklahoma’s
economy depends on agriculture too: Oklahoma's single largest industry
is beef cattle. That makes up nearly two billion dollars of the state's
six billion dollar ag industry every year.
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) and other
sponsors presented awards to outstanding conservationists and
conservation educators during Conservation Day at the Capitol on March
19. Awards were also presented to members of the press and conservation
districts for outstanding efforts in spreading information about
conservation. The various awards were cosponsored by Chesapeake Energy,
the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and the Samuel Roberts Noble
Oklahoma Panhandle farmer George Freeman had a surface furrow irrigation
system that had application efficiencies of only 60-65 percent. He
thought he could be a better manager of his water, so he contacted the
Guymon NRCS field office to change to drip irrigation. This change will
improve his efficiency to near 95 percent, which is typical for drip
The Austin family of Geary, Oklahoma was among eight, nationally
featured customers, who were chosen to represent diversity of geography,
culture, conservation practices and products, represent a cross-section
of our landowner-partners nationwide as part of a new national
conservation campaign launched by the USDA-Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS).
The NRCS in Oklahoma recognized groups and individuals that had made
outstanding conservation contributions in 2007 at the Oklahoma
Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting February 25-27,
Rising fuel costs, increased labor costs and natural resource concerns
are on the minds of many farmers across Oklahoma. Many are searching for
a different way to do business – one that that can save time, money and
natural resources, if possible.
Last year, the 100-plus members of Tulsa County Earth Team volunteer
group worked over 3,500 hours to benefit Tulsa and surrounding
communities through conservation events and activities. Their
outstanding efforts earned them the National Association of Conservation
District (NACD)/NRCS National Partnership Award. They will receive the
honor at NACD’s annual meeting in Reno, Nevada on February 12, 2008.