Cross Timbers Board Member, John Robertson, (right) presents NRCS
Oklahoma State Conservationist Ron Hilliard with a plaque of
appreciation for his support of Oklahoma RC&D Councils.
Congressman Frank Lucas addressed the crowd during the banquet and
awards ceremony on Monday night.
Cross Timbers Board Member, John Robertson, (right) receiving
recognition for his years of service and dedication to the Oklahoma
State Association of RC&D's, by Assistant State Conservationist Gary
Members of Cross Timbers RC&D with their award of recognition for having
the most attendees at the State Summit. They had 20 in attendance.
Cross Timbers Board President, Kristi Coker, being presented the award
for "Outstanding Performance by a Council for 2008" by Oklahoma's State
Association of RC&D's President, James Aldridge.
“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.
The three-day meeting kicked off on Sunday evening
with a fish fry hosted by the Cross Timbers RC&D. Monday was a day
filled with informative sessions. Tuesday was wrapped up with a
consortium and OARCDC board meeting.
“Our goal with this year’s summit was to educate
and expand our partnerships by giving them new tools to use with their
local RC&Ds,” says Carl Smith, coordinator for the Wheatland RC&D
Council based in Enid. Wheatland RC&D Council was the host and organizer
for this year’s events.
An impressive line up of speakers relayed important
information to the audience. Of particular interest was Attorney
General’s Office representative Gay Tudor’s presentation on the Open
Meetings and Open Records act.
“This information was especially helpful in the way
we advertise, organize and record our meetings across the state,” Smith
Brent Kisling, USDA Rural Development state
director, gave an update on USDA Rural Development programs that can be
used for expanding existing businesses and developing new businesses.
Linda McCowan, trainer and master facilitator, from
Sirolli Institute team, spoke with Roger Masenthin, Sunflower RC&D in
Kansas, about helping RC&D Councils work in concert with existing
economic development efforts to assist entrepreneurs receive funding and
“This was important information for RC&D council
members and partners so they will know what avenues to use to help
facilitate new entrepreneurs in getting incentives and funding for
businesses that could employ numerous people,” Smith states.
Another highlight was provided by Abby Cash
Director of Oklahoma Agritourism Oklahoma Department of Agriculture,
Food & Forestry, and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
Cash talked about how RC&D councils can use available resources to
promote tourism by identifying and assisting producers interested in
opening their property to travelers or expanding an existing venue. Cash
explained how agritourism businesses can include farm and ranch
experiences, wineries, bed and breakfasts, farmers markets, hunting
destinations, western events, birding tours and food fairs and
festivals, and much more.
“Fueling Our Economy” was a well received session
featuring Gary Roulette, CEO Western Farmers Electric Cooperative & Sid
Sperry, Oklahoma Assn. of Electric Cooperatives. The pair spoke about
the status of fuels and the economic cost benefits of the various fuels
to generate electricity. They also highlighted some of the problems
electric coops have with man hours and how they cooperate with other
states during ice storm damages, floods, winds, tornadoes, etc.
“This was important for council members, many of
whom are county commissioners, to know how and where to get help during
natural disaster events,” Smith said. “Through the Emergency Watershed
Protection (EWP) program, NRCS and RC&D councils regularly work with
electric co-ops to protect and restore community infrastructures.”
Sandy Bull with Mid-America technology center
talked about how to develop business plans. Bull gave guidance outlines
for developing the plans, including a budget page, which helps when
preparing to visit with financial institutions about funding sources.
Congressman Frank Lucas addressed the crowd during
the banquet and awards ceremony on Monday night, encouraging the good
efforts of RC&D councils across the state.
Wheatland RC&D member Toni Pickle received the
award for “Outstanding Performance from a Council Member in 2008.” Cross
Timbers RC&D Council President, Kristi Coker, was presented the award
for "Outstanding Performance by a Council for 2008." Both of these are
statewide awards that will go on to compete against other states in the
southwest region of RC&D councils, and then on to national RC&D awards.
Cross Timbers RC&D member, John Robertson, was
recognized for his many years of service and dedication to the Oklahoma
State Association of RC&D's. The Cross Timbers RC&D was recognized for
having the most attendees at the State Summit, with 20 members in