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2008 Oklahoma Highlights and Stories

2008 Oklahoma Highlights and Stories

Caldwell Selected as Nominee For FEYA

During his recent visit to Oklahoma, Chief Arlen Lancaster (center) gets an update on Oklahoma's watershed program by Watershed Specialist Larry Caldwell (left).

Larry Caldwell, watershed specialist, has been selected as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) nominee for the 2009 Federal Engineer of the Year Award (FEYA).


Soil Conservationist Reaps Benefits From Temporary Details

Soil Conservationist Joy Martin surveys a banana plantation for irrigation installation during her detail to the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

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.


Oklahoma American Indian Artist Wins NRCS 2008 American Indian Heritage Month Poster Contest

This year’s winning artist Kathy Sturch, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and Arkansas Assistant State Conservationist Anderson Neal, look over the poster one last time before sending it to production.

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 world.


State Civil Rights Committee Members Receive Training at Annual Conference

SEPM attendees at the Spokane, Washington meeting

American Indian Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Asian American Pacific Islander (AA/PI) Special Emphasis Program Managers (SEPM) from across the nation received training recently in Spokane, Washington.


Renewable Energy and Efficiency Loan and Grant Meeting

Landownersfrom LeFlore, Haskell and Latimer County and Talihina counties attended the meeting for poultry producers and small businesses recently held in Poteau.

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.


Oklahoma Receives Recognition for Poster Presentations at Conference

Oklahoma Tribal Resource Conservationist Melanie Oliver, discusses Osage grazing with conference attendee.

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, 2008.


Passion for Conservation

P.J. Martin, Student Trainee, measuring brush management practice with the GPS.

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.


Oklahoma RC&D Councils Meet to Help Keep Oklahoma Thriving

Congressman Frank Lucas addressed the crowd during the Oklahoma Association of Resource Conservation and Development Council's annual state summit.

“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.


Seeds That Have Been Sown

Ella and Harold Slagell with their daughter, Reonna, and her husband, Bryan Gossen.

“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.


Youth Summit Draws Large Crowd

Approximately 1,400 students attended the Youth Summit 2008 held in Durant.

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.


Asian and Beginning Poultry Producers Flock to Outreach Meeting

A native of Laos, Pooh Vongkhamdy, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, helped translate the information for Asian poultry producers.

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.


Eastern Redcedar: From Peril to Profit

Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins encouraged conference attendees to work together to find environmentally and economically beneficial solutions for removing Redcedar from the land.

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.


Drought Still Has Death Grip on Oklahoma Panhandle

Dry,
		sandy soil is quickly blown out of the hand of Cimarron County District Conservationist Cherrie Brown.
		She stands in a field that has intense wind erosion in a wheat field that had no residue to hold the soil
		in place. 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 years.


Annual Meeting of the Oklahoma Chapter of SWCS

SWCS Tour participants observe genetic plant trials in Noble Foundation’s “acre under glass” greenhouse.

The Oklahoma Chapter of Soil and Water Conservation Society conducted their 2008 annual chapter meeting June 19th and 20th in Ardmore, Oklahoma.


NRCS Helps Repair Bridge over Troubled Water

Floodwaters damaged the bridge on the only access road to Bixby Ranch Estates

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.


Oklahoma Hosts National Land and Range Judging Contest

Garbage bags and Ziploc bags were common forms of rain gear during the competition.

Several first-time participants got their feet wet at the 57th annual National Land and Range Judging Contest, held for high school FFA and 4-H teams May 5-7 near El Reno, Oklahoma.


Learning Comes Naturally to Oklahoma Fourth Graders

Clay Salisbury, NRCS Soil Scientist

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.


Western Panhandle Suffering From Severe Drought Conditions

Severe drought conditions in the Panhandle

Despite adequate rains in most of Oklahoma, the far western Panhandle of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions, particularly in Cimarron and Texas Counties.

In Cimarron County, few dryland wheat acres will be harvested this year. By mesonet data, wheat acres in Cimarron Co. have received .81 inches of rainfall since October 2007.


Eastern Oklahoma Ag Trade Show

Dr. Susan Watkins, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, addressed drinking water quality issues that poultry farmers commonly face.

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 Students Learn About Conservation on Earth Day

NRCS Soil Scientist Carl Woods brought his NRCS truck equipped with a core auger to show the students soil horizons in the sample core.

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 Receive Computers for Learning

Lisa Shrader is all smiles as she picks up the donated computers she requested for Mannford and Oilton public schools.

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.


Jim Green, Stationed in Afghanistan, Sends Letter to NRCS Family

Jim Green (left) is an NRCS DC, who was selected to be a USDA Ag Advisor.

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.


ASCOG RC&D Council Actively Involved in Community Capacity Building Across Oklahoma

Fourteen participants attended the Level I Grant Writing Workshop.

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.


Great Plains RC&D Named Outstanding RC&D Council at the Southwest States RC&D Meeting

The RC&D Council assists with outdoor classroom development and trails grants to provide educational opportunities teaching natural resources conservation.

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.


Land Donated to Conservation District Will Become Nature Sanctuary

Bonnie Geer presents the deed to the land to the Muskogee County Conservation District. From left to Right; Ken Silver-MCCD Director, Bonnie Geer-Donor, Andy Qualls-MCCD Tech., Butch Garner-MCCD Director, Trish Kloeckler-MCCD District Secretary.

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.


NRCS Helps Oklahoma Celebrate Ag Day

Public Affairs Specialist Terri Daniel talks to an Ag Day visitor about the types of services NRCS provides landowners in Oklahoma.

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.


NRCS Offices Partner To Hold a Locally-Led Meeting

NRCS employees from Grady and Gavin County visit about local resource concerns.

McClain County Conservation District and four NRCS offices partner to hold a locally-led meeting on the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program and local resource concerns.


Conservation Day at the Capitol 2008

State legislators and visitors to the State Capitol building enjoyed information provided by the NRCS, OCC and conservation districts from across the state.

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 Foundation.


70th Annual OACD Meeting Well Attended

Assistant State Conservationist for Operations Gary O'Neill presenting awards at OACD meeting

Over 400 attended the opening session of the 70th Annual State Meeting of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, at the Reed Center in Midwest City, on February 25-27, 2008.


First Subsurface Drip System for Crops Being Installed in the Oklahoma Panhandle

Subsurface drip system

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 systems.


Oklahoma Featured in NRCS National Campaign to Spotlight Conservation Heroes

The Conservation…Our Purpose. Our Passion. campaign will feature the Austin's inspiring story

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).


NRCS Recognizes Conservation Partners

State Conservationist Ron Hilliard recognizes conservation partners

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, 2008.


International Heifer Association Holds First Meeting

District Conservationsit Danielle Whaley conducts NRCS meeting

The International Heifer Association held its first meeting in Boynton, Oklahoma on Friday the 18th of January. Over 20 producers from Muskogee, Okmulgee, and Wagoner Counties attended the meeting.


Interest is Increasing in No-Till Farming in Oklahoma

No-Till conference organizers

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.


USDA Provides Information to Native Americans in Northeast Oklahoma

Attendees visit NRCS booth

Over 75 people attended a USDA Outreach, Career and Information Fair at Cave Springs Elementary School.


First Tribal Conservation District In Oklahoma

Kiowa Tribe members

The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and the USDA-NRCS signed a cooperative conservation agreement establishing the first-ever Tribal Conservation District in Oklahoma.


Cheyenne DC Greg Allen Wins "Name the Newsletter Contest"

The Oklahoma News Trail header

Congratulations to Greg Allen, district conservationist at the Cheyenne, Oklahoma NRCS office in Roger Mills County. Allen was the winner of the “Name the NRCS Oklahoma Electronic Newsletter.”


Tulsa County Earth Team Volunteers Win National Award

Tulsa County Earth Team Volunteers receiving training for Oklahoma's Blue Thumb program.

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.