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Erasmo Montemayor Receives National Recognition for Work as Hispanic Empha

Erasmo Montemayor Receives National Recognition for Work as Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager for Texas NRCS

Story by Melissa Blair

Erasmo Montemayor, District Conservationist for Jim Hogg County, received national recognition for his work as Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager for Texas, 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.

"This award means a great deal to me since it is from Headquarters and have it presented to me during a national conference,� said Montemayor. �It was a great honor to be recognized for all the extra efforts put into my recruitment activities."

As part of his HEPM duties, Montemayor provides a quarterly report to the National SEPMs that helps National Headquarters get a better idea of what is happening at the local level, and where they need to strengthen their efforts. These reports were also used by the National SEPMs to identify each state�s HEPM�s contribution to improving the NRCS workforce and for the national award.

For the award, a scoring sheet was developed and points were assigned for each HEPM�s efforts in a particular area. Points were awarded for each quarterly report submitted. From the reports, the HEPMs were also judged for recruitment trips at job fairs, leadership and providing SEPM training. These items together and other items from each HEPM�s reports determined a final score.

Montemayor�s citation for the awards reads: For your dedication and hard work to the NRCS Special Emphasis Program. Your commitment continues to help NRCS become even more the employer of choice, moving the agency forward with an inclusive, diverse workforce.

Although Montemayor has only served as HEPM in Texas for four years, ensuring parity in NRCS employment techniques and making sure there are opportunities for promotions, training and recruitment of well-qualified employees, he has been pro-active in his recruiting and outreach during his 20 years as a full-time NRCS employee and even during his two years as a student trainee.

Montemayor has been a member of the National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees (NOPHNRCSE), since it started. He has also participated in the National HEPM training and the NOPHNRCSE Organization Training in Philadelphia. He presented at the HEPM Breakout session during the training conference in Kansas City about Texas HEPM recruitment practices.

Montemayor contributes his success in recruiting the top, best qualified people to come to work for NRCS by �foraging alliances with students, professors, counselors, university administrators, and other agency personnel to get to where we are today.�

Examples include working with the National HEPM, Jaqueline Padron, and several members of the Civil Rights Team in Texas and other states, for recruitment at the Texas A&M Kingsville Career Fair in Oct. 2009. Since the university has traditionally been a hiring source of Hispanic SCEP and CIP employees, not only for Texas, but for many other states, Montemayor worked with the administrators and professors in the Engineering College to get their students interested in possible careers with NRCS. Montemayor and the Civil Rights team visited 10 classes, including five Agriculture and five Engineering classes with 441 students. The team also held a barbeque for the students, which was funded by the Hebbronville and Kingsville SWCD Districts, and more than 40 students attended and interacted with the NRCS recruitment team. More than 500 students attended the career fair with more than 250 stopping by the NRCS booth. The team conducted interviews and recommended 37 of the students for hire from the career fair. A student database listing qualified women and minority students was also created and provided to NRCS leadership and that has proven to be a good source to recruit Hispanic interns and new permanent employees.

Since many students attend community and junior colleges in the beginning to obtain their college degree, Montemayor also works with many of the community, junior and technical colleges in South Texas by going to classes and career fairs to inform students of the opportunities available to them, once they enroll in a four-year university. One example is Laredo Community College (LCC) where he has worked with staff to help LCC students earn credit from Texas State University (TSU) for online agricultural classes so the student only has to complete their senior year in San Marcos at TSU to obtain their agricultural degree.

�We will see these efforts pay off beginning this year as these students are enrolling in universities and start applying for SCEP positions,� said Montemayor.

�Erasmo has demonstrated leadership in developing strong relationships with several colleges and universities in Texas,� said Jacqueline Padron, National Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager with NRCS. �Through his efforts, he has been able to recruit qualified, talented, and diverse students for NRCS. Erasmo is an asset to the Hispanic Employment Program and NRCS.�

Working with the Texas/Mexico Border Coalition CBO and the Rio Bravo Resource Conservation and Development Council, Montemayor makes sure Hispanic producers are aware and have the opportunity to participate in NRCS programs, and minority and female students are aware of career opportunities with the agency.

He also worked with the Fever Tick Program in 2009-2010 that provides technical and financial assistance for conservation planning and practices that help ranchers fight the cattle fever tick.

�Texas is proud to have Erasmo on our staff and for the work he has done throughout his career to promote NRCS programs and career opportunities,� said Don Gohmert, State Conservationist. �Erasmo�s continued commitment to reach minorities, women, and others with our conservation message and recruitment, exemplifies our agency�s mission, of Helping People Help the Land.�

Montemayor also conducts Civil Rights Reviews of field offices and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) reviews as part of the Accessibility Review Team (ART).

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.

Jacqueline Padr�n, National Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Civil Rights Division and Joseph Harris, Director of Office of Civil Rights presents the award to Erasmo Montemayor, (center) Texas Hispanic Special Emphasis Program Manager, for his excellence in ensuring Texas NRCS is helping all people have equal access to technical and financial assistance and job opportunities.

Jacqueline Padr�n, National Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Office of Outreach and Advocacy and Joseph E. Hairston, former Director, Civil Rights Division, present the award to Erasmo Montemayor, (center) Texas Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager, for his excellence in ensuring Texas NRCS is helping all people have equal access to technical and financial assistance and job opportunities.