Black Emphasis Program

Black Emphasis Program Manager: Sharon Sawdey, (808) 541-2600 x 125.

The Black Emphasis Program is designed to provide focus on issues such as employment, promotion, training, and career enhancement affecting Black employees and applicants in NRCS. The program seeks to:
  • Increase the number of Blacks in professional, administrative, and technical occupations.
  • Eliminate concentrations of Blacks in single interval series to diversify and create advancement opportunities throughout all occupational levels and all disciplines.
  • Encourage the participation of Blacks in all NRCS sponsored programs and activities.
  • Provide a network of professional support for Blacks in NRCS.

National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees

National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees logo.

"The Link to maximizing potential and conserving our nation's resources"

Martin Luther King Jr. poster.


Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism poster.

The Organization is to enhance the awareness of and improve the level of education and professional development of Black employees within Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and to increase the participation of Blacks in agriculture, natural resources, and related fields. Membership in the Organization is open to all employees.


  • Foster a productive working relationship between employees and management to promote an effective program delivery system.
  • Provide a forum for employees to identify concerns and provide information and recommendations to management on programs, technical practices, and administrative policies that impact employees, potential employees, and NRCS customers.
  • Develop a network to assist new employees and employees who relocate with finding housing and other community services.
  • Enhance awareness and keep employees abreast of local, State, national, and international concerns in agriculture. Inform employees about career opportunities and avenues for advancing their careers.
  • Emphasize the importance of the agricultural sciences and related field to high school and college/university students. Inform individuals and groups outside of the agriculture arena of the opportunities in agricultural sciences and related fields.
  • Aid in the recruitment and advancement of employees in positions at all levels of NRCS.
  • Develop leadership and other skills by conducting training workshops and seminars to disseminate research findings. Develop a Speaker's Bureau to experts in the he field of agriculture to promote positive images of USDA employees.
  • Work with management to identify training needs.
  • Establish a formal network of NRCS employees and enable the network to dialogue with other professional minority organizations.
  • Serve as an adjunct to NRCS in promoting soil, water, and related resources conservation in the Black community.



USDA/1890 National Scholars Program
Each year USDA provides 34 full 4-year scholarships to students attending any of the 17 historically Black 1890 Institutions. Open to students completing their senior year of high school, scoring a minimum of 1000 on the SAT, or a score of 21 or higher on the ACT. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA or better. Scholars must major in agricultural related fields, food or natural sciences, or other allied disciplines. Application deadlines is January 15 of each year. This is a student employment program with non-competitive conversion eligibility.