VT FSA/NRCS Civil
Rights Advisory Committee Meeting
January 28, 2010
Office Conference Room
Notetaker for meeting: Jim Eikenberry
NRCS: Ann Lansberry, Jim Eikenberry, Pete Lossman, Marybeth
Whitten, Lorrie Doering, Tom Burke, Roslyn Odum, Judy Doerner and Ellen Sivret
FSA: Lawrence Parker, Steve Johnson, Sue Monahan, Phyllis
The meeting was called to order at 9:30am by co-chairs
Roslyn Odum and Phyllis Torrey.
Minutes of the October 16, 2009 CRAC meeting were reviewed
I. SEPM Reports
Ann Lansberry –Disability SEPM
Ann sent out two emails to all employees during Disability
Awareness month and one all employees email commemorating Veterans Day. She
also attended a Disability& Veterans SEPM teleconference and has continued
to share information about hiring authorities and opportunities for Veterans,
including Operation Warfighter.
Jim Eikenberry- Asian American /Pacific Islander SEPM
Jim created and gave a presentation on NRCS and Civil Rights
to 170 UVM freshmen and transfer students. Jim has also been in touch with
some of those students since then with information about NRCS internship
opportunities. Jim also shared with the group that his SEPM term expires on
October 1st 2010 and that he is actively recruiting a new NRCS
employee to volunteer for that role.
Pete Lossman -Native American – SEPM
Pete has sent out several informational emails and continues
to work with archaeologist Dave Skinas on cataloguing and describing Native
Roslyn Odum– Hispanic SEPM
Roslyn has worked on coordinating a panel for Diversity Day
on the topic of Migrant Workers in Vermont. She has also sent out several
informational emails and recruitment materials.
Sue Monahan- FSA SEPM
Sue has been working on a SEPM plan for the VT FSA.
Marybeth Whitten- Women’s SEPM
Marybeth attended a Women’s SEPM teleconference and has been
involved with discussions about forming a Women’s SEPM organization.
Judy Doerner- State Conservationist
Judy reminded everyone to submit quarterly Civil Rights
reports to the new State Conservationist.
Steve Johnson - FSA State Civil Rights Coordinator
Steve is working on creating a FSA all employee civil
rights training. This training will likely be modeled after the NRCS Civil
Rights in Program Delivery training and there may be some opportunities for
joint NRCS & FSA training with this. Steve is also looking for FSA
training opportunities to increase the accessibility of information to FSA
staff. Steve also reported that THE ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS (ADA/ABAAS)
SECTION NUMBERS now MATCH building code NUMBERS for handicapped accessibility.
He has a cd training available on handicapped accessibility; if anyone is
interested they can contact him.
II. Northern New England NRCS Recruitment Plan
Rosyln has been working with New Hampshire and Maine NRCS
staff to complete the final draft of the Northern New England NRCS Recruitment
Plan. All updated contacts will need to be sent to Roslyn ASAP. Next steps
involve developing a calendar of recruitment events and identifying advertising
strategies. Also need to identify who will keep the plan updated.
Judy recommended that the plan be implemented in a
coordinated manner between VT, NH & Me and that Cathee Wilson in Maine be
contacted to lead this effort. Roslyn agreed to contact Cathee about this and
the committee agreed to get all updated recruitment contact information to
Judy further commented that it isn’t fair for Vermont to
have to handle all out of State contacts and that Cathee needs to make sure
this work is distributed equitably. Judy also noted that any paid advertising
would have to be very specific and targeted.
Phyllis noted that Brian Kuper is the FSA’s recruiter here
III. All USDA Agency Civil Rights Review
Judy informed the committee that FSA, NRCS, & RD will
all undergo a Civil Rights review sometime this Spring. Six field offices will
be visited. This is a USDA department level review. No additional guidance
was available at this time.
Phyllis mentioned the Cultural Diversity Series taking place
3/10, 4/7 and 5/12 at the Fletcher Free Library.
IV. Judy Doerner Parting Remarks
Judy expressed her appreciation for the focus and work of
the CRAC and encouraged them to focus on assisting the field with the upcoming
Civil Rights review. Judy also noted the importance and challenges of recruiting
diverse panels of applicants for open positions and training all employees on
Civil Rights issues. She encouraged the CRAC to stay connected with FSA and
NRCS state leadership.
V. Welcoming Committee
Jim Eikenberry and Marybeth Whitten discussed their new and
emerging role as a “New Employee Welcoming” subcommittee of the CRAC. In this
role they have sent out introductory emails to newly hired NRCS staff and let
them know about the CRAC, welcomed them to NRCS, and offered to be another
source of information to them about working for NRCS. Emails were also sent to
new employee’s supervisors and were clear that they were not attempting to
usurp the supervisor’s role in training and supporting new employees. The
emails were well received and appreciated by the new staff.
Judy made it clear that the role of the Welcoming
subcommittee was not training and Jim responded that they were not offering and
training or usurping the supervisor. The emails are literally saying hello,
welcome, the CRAC exists, contact us if you have any questions on this or
anything that we might be able to help with. Other than the welcoming most new
employees have appreciated getting an updated organizational hierarchy flow
chart from this subcommittee.
VI. Complaint Letter
A complaint letter was received about one of the chosen
speakers for Diversity Day. The committee discussed the topic thoroughly and
reaffirmed that the point of Diversity Day is to share information and educate
people, not advocacy but awareness. All speakers will be given clear guidance on
this. With all speakers having clear guidance also that the goal of the day is
to be inclusive and celebratory.
VII. Operation Warfighter
Anne Lansberry talked about this staffing program that
allows for Veterans working on healing injuries to have work opportunities with
an agency like FSA or NRCS. Judy recommended that Anne and or the CRAC contact
Cathee Wilson to see how she felt about this opportunity and what positions
might be a good fit for this too.
VIII. Other Business
Roslyn noted that Danny Peet in the NRCS Williston office
has been working with the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and this
may be a future area of outreach or technical assistance for the CRAC, FSA,
Roslyn agreed to send out a list of language translation resources
available in Vermont.
Updates of FY2010 Goals—The new CRAC member training was
completed in St Johnsbury and by telephone call on November 10, 2009 by Judy
Doerner, with Lawrence Parker, Tom Burke, Ellen Sivret, Marybeth Whitten and
Phyllis Torrey attending.
The next CRAC meeting is schedule on April 22nd.