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NRCS Takes Part in National Native American Agricultural Symposium

story by Beverly Moseley

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas broke new ground recently at the Better the Future-An Indian Agriculture Symposium hosted by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA).

NRCS employees from Texas have attended the symposium in the past, but the December 2011 annual event was the first time NRCS in Texas has participated in the tradeshow, along with being invited to present during the symposium which was attended by hundreds from across the United States, including the Secretary of Agriculture.

"I think Texas shined," said attendee Garry Stephens, NRCS Tribal Liaison and wildlife biologist based in Corpus Christi. "As the Tribal liaison for Texas, I'm very proud of the relationships that have been developed and fostered over the years between NRCS, partners, and American Indian ag producers."

Kyle Williams, Tribal Council Vice Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Ronald Harris, NRCS District Conservationist in Livingston, were invited symposium speakers. They talked about NRCS' national Longleaf Pine Landscape Initiative and the Tribe's efforts to restore culturally significant longleaf pines on Tribal lands in the Big Thicket of East Texas.

Williams and Harris' presentation followed guest speakers USDA Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Janie Hipp, Office of the Secretary, Tribal Relations.

"It was an honor that NRCS Texas and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas were asked to present the successful development of conservation plans that will impact today and in the future," Stephens said.

A new state American Indian tabletop display was a highlight of the tradeshow. A longleaf pine video on the longleaf initiative and partnership between the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and NRCS was shown throughout the week to attendees. The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/USDANRCSTexas.

For more information about NRCS, its partners and activities, visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov or follow NRCS at http://twitter.com/NRCSTexas.


Standing from left to right are Texas NRCS State Conservationist Salvador Salinas; Kyle Williams, Tribal Council Vice Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas; Ronald Harris, Texas NRCS District Conservationist in Livingston; Bruce Wight, NRCS National Forester, Washington, D.C.; and Garry Stephens, Texas NRCS Tribal Liaison and wildlife biologist based in Corpus Christi.

Standing from left to right are Texas NRCS State Conservationist Salvador Salinas; Kyle Williams, Tribal Council Vice Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas; Ronald Harris, Texas NRCS District Conservationist in Livingston; Bruce Wight, NRCS National Forester, Washington, D.C.; and Garry Stephens, Texas NRCS Tribal Liaison and wildlife biologist based in Corpus Christi.

USDA Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack (second from right) answers questions after his General Session presentation. Ronald Harris (at podium), NRCS District Conservationist in Livingston, TX and Kyle Williams (left), Tribal Council Vice Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas spoke about NRCS' national Longleaf Pine Landscape Initiative and the Tribe's efforts to restore culturally significant longleaf pines on Tribal lands in the Big Thicket of East Texas. Williams and Harris' presentation followed guest speakers Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Janie Hipp, office of the Secretary, Tribal Relations.

USDA Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack (second from right) answers questions after his General Session presentation.

Ronald Harris (at podium), NRCS District Conservationist in Livingston, TX and Kyle Williams (left), Tribal Council Vice Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas spoke about NRCS' national Longleaf Pine Landscape Initiative and the Tribe's efforts to restore culturally significant longleaf pines on Tribal lands in the Big Thicket of East Texas. Williams and Harris' presentation followed guest speakers Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Janie Hipp, office of the Secretary, Tribal Relations.

Megan Badoni, Miss Northern Navajo Teen (standing, left), asks USDA Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack questions about USDA internships during the General Session presentation at The Youth Drum & Dance Group: Spirit of the Buffalo Dancers & Singers, Blackfeet Tribe, Browning, Mont., opened each day's General Session.

Megan Badoni, Miss Northern Navajo Teen (standing, left), asks USDA Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack questions about USDA internships during the General Session presentation at "The Better the Future" - An Indian Agriculture Symposium held recently in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Youth Drum & Dance Group: Spirit of the Buffalo Dancers & Singers, Blackfeet Tribe, Browning, Mont., opened each day's General Session.