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National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees Recognizes T

National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees Recognizes Three Texans

Story by Melissa Blair

The National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees (NOPHNRCSE) recognized outstanding members and farmers during their �Ray T Margo Luncheon� at the March meeting of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 2010 Joint Professional Employee Organizations and Special Emphasis Program Managers Training Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Recognitions were presented for the Leadership, Visionary, Excellence in Natural Resources, Excellence in Hispanic Community Outreach, Outstanding Member and the Amigo/Amiga Awards.

Bertha Venegas, coordinator for the Alamo Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, was recognized with the Visionary Award. Ronnie Skala, Hydraulic Engineer on the Water Resources staff at the Temple NRCS State Office received the Award of Excellence in Natural Resources Conservation. Humberto Hernandez, retired NRCS employee from Burleson, received the Amigo Award.

The NOPHNRCSE Visionary Award recognizes the accomplishments of forward-looking and innovative men and women who are active members in the Hispanic Community. The Award especially recognizes their participation in and support of NOPHNRCSE in addition to their contributions to their profession and Hispanic Community. This Award is given in tribute to pioneers of the organization whose hard work and vision resulted in the founding of the organization.

Bertha Venegas, who has been a member of NOPHNRCSE since it was founded 17 years ago, has volunteered her time to the organization whenever asked or there was a need. She has contributed and served on countless committees for the organization and has served as past president.

�Bertha is a very visionary, innovative and creative individual who looks for new cutting-edge information and material to bring to conferences so that its members can do their best and most professional job possible,� said Cris Perez, District Conservationist in Hays County, who has worked with Venegas on several conferences and nominated her for the award. �She often discusses her views and vision for future direction of NRCS and how NOPHNRCSE and the other employee organizations can play an important role. In other words, she thinks aloud, includes others, and encourages further discussion and formulation of ideas. I feel that last year�s conference theme had an impact on each member of the organization. Bertha�s visionary idea of providing the best training possible for NOPHNRCSE members was always priority and forward-thinking. She looked at change, what the future might bring and how it might affect our Agency, leadership and all staff.�

The NOPHNRCSE Award of Excellence is designed to recognize individuals who, over a period of time, have contributed substantially and creatively to our Natural Resources Conservation profession. The recipient should exemplify excellence in a particular discipline and, possibly, in multi-discipline efforts that promotes excellence and creativity. The recipient also should demonstrate leadership and involvement in NOPHNRCSE. Awards of Excellence should not be given to members currently serving on the National Council or be a current chair of a standing committee.

Ronnie Skala has been an active NOPHNRCSE since 2005 and has served on several committees, including student membership, Natural Resources, etc. and has served as chair and co-chair. Skala operates the family farm/ranch of 400+ acres in the Temple area, where he has allowed NRCS to use his family�s operation to train new NRCS employees since he applies the same conservation practices that NRCS offers to its clients. Examples of practices that Skala applies are converting cropland to native plant mixes, prescribed grazing, prescribed burning, pasture management, wildlife and fisheries management and riparian restoration and management.

�Ronnie Skala in my opinion is the top candidate for this award; based on his work and enthusiasm for the NOPHNRCSE organization, respect from NOPHNRCSE members and fellow peers, and his work for the conservation of our nations natural resources,� said Russell Castro, State Wildlife Biologist for Texas NRCS, and has worked with Skala as a member of the Texas Riparian Team and on many wildlife and water related projects in Texas.

The NOPHNRCSE Amiga/Amigo Award recognizes the activities of an individual(s) or organization, which have substantially contributed towards the improvement of the Organization and/or Hispanic Community at large, in regards to visibility, information dissemination and program accessibility. The recipient(s) should demonstrate an involvement with the Hispanic Community and by actions show support of NOPHNRCSE's vision and mission.

Humberto Hernandez has served at many levels of NRCS and eventually worked his way up to Regional Conservationist in Ft. Worth. He is a familiar face to NOPHNRCSE and its members because he is considered one of the founding fathers of the organization and has served as past officer.

A group of Hispanic SCS leaders, including Hernandez, who was Director of Puerto Rico at the time, California State Conservationist Pearly S. Reed, New Mexico State Conservationist Ray Margo, New Mexico State Administrative Office Civil Rights Rich Vigil, and National HEPM Rosendo Trevi�o III, met on May 20, 1992 in Albuquerque, N.M., after almost two years of dialogue between several Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Hispanic Employment Program Managers and other Agency employees, and reached consensus to work together to begin the forming of an employee organization that would serve as an advocacy group for Hispanic employees of the SCS.

The hard work paid off when on May 20-24, 1993 the interim Organization held its first official Annual Training Conference in San Antonio, and formally became the National Organization of Professional SCS Employees with the naming of its first National Council and the ratification of its Constitution and By-Laws.
�Humberto has always done an outstanding job at all levels of NRCS he has worked at,� said Rosendo Trevi�o III, �Even though he is retired he always does what he can to look out for all NOPHNRCSE members and do what he can to help them in any way.�

The training conference was a joint effort that included the Asian Pacific Islander Organization (APIO), National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE), National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees (NOPHNRCSE), and NRCS Civil Rights Division hosted the training conference.

J.R. Flores, State conservationist, Missouri, Robert Apodaca, Assistant Chief West, Ginger Murphy, Associate Chief, Ronnie Skala and Luis Hernandez, NOPHNRCSE President.

J.R. Flores, State conservationist, Missouri, Robert Apodaca, Assistant Chief West, Ginger Murphy, Associate Chief, Humberto Hernandez and Luis Hernandez, NOPHNRCSE President.

J.R. Flores, State conservationist, Missouri, Robert Apodaca, Assistant Chief West, Ginger Murphy, Associate Chief, Ronnie Skala and Luis Hernandez, NOPHNRCSE President.

J.R. Flores, State conservationist, Missouri, Robert Apodaca, Assistant Chief West, Ginger Murphy, Associate Chief, Humberto Hernandez and Luis Hernandez, NOPHNRCSE President.

Bertha Venegas, coordinator for the Alamo Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, received the NOPHNRCSE Visionary Award.  

Bertha Venegas, coordinator for the Alamo Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, received the NOPHNRCSE Visionary Award.