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Black Emphasis Program (BEPM)

Black Emphasis Program (BEPM)

Jennifer Van Eps, (509) 323.2914
Washington's Black Emphasis Program Manager

Jenn Van Eps - BEPM

I'm Jennifer Van Eps (Jenn) and I am your Black Special Emphasis Program Manager (BEPM) on the Civil Rights Advisory Committee. My role is to focus on issues such as employment, retention, promotion, training, career development and advancement opportunities affecting black applicants and employees in NRCS.

In August of 2010 I began my employment with the NRCS as a Visual Information Specialist - which is just a fancy way of saying Graphic Designer. I am very creative and enjoy working on new projects, so I will bring that to the Civil Rights team to ensure that all underserved communities are well represented in Washington State. I also enjoy many other creative activities including sewing, knitting and scrapbooking. I am married and have a whole hoard of animals at home to love!

The Black Emphasis Program is an integral part of the overall equal employment opportunity (EEO) program and is designed to:

  • Ensure that African Americans/Blacks receive equal treatment in all aspects of employment.
  • Increase the number of African Americans/Blacks employed in all professional, administrative, technical, clerical, and other categories, series, and grade levels.
  • Provide opportunities to participate in training, career development, and leadership programs.
  • Encourage the participation of African Americans/Blacks in all NRCS-sponsored programs and activities.
  • Provide a network of professional support for African Americans/Blacks.
  • Provide mentoring support to African Americans/Blacks in the workforce.
  • Educate all NRCS employees by raising the level of awareness of African American/Black workplace issues and concerns.

February is Black History Month

Originally “Negro History Week” , introduced by Carter G. Woodson “the Father of Black History” during a traditional celebratory time centered around the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two great Americans who played a prominent role in the shaping of Black history. Records indicate that as early as the 1940s “Negro History Month” was being celebrated in some states, but wasn’t institutionalized until 1976 from a week to a month and from Negro history to Black history by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization founded by Woodson some 60 years earlier, but still in existence today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

NRCS 2012 Black History Month Poster

Celebrating "The First"

The front of the poster highlights photos of 32 Black Females are displayed  as "The First" to hold key positions at NRCS.  The second page recognizes "The First" positions these women held within the agency either in a particular state, at National Headquarters or even in the nation.

Front side image of "The First" NRCS 2012 Black History Month poster Backside image of "The First" NRCS 2012 Black History Month poster

Links on this page may require Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint.

2012 Black History Month poster  (PDF; 1.6MB)   
Poster can be printed on 8.5 x 11 or 11 x 17 paper.  

Black History Month Facts and Accomplishments Calendar (PDF; 86KB)



  • In an era of American history marked by racial segregation and anti-immigrant attitudes, Washington was an anomaly: the only state in the west and one of only eight nationwide, without laws banning racial intermarriage.
  • Located in southwest Washington, the town of Centralia was founded by George Washington, an African American who came west in 1850 to escape discrimination. Although the founders of Centralia have long since passed away, the city itself has flourished. The town that an African American platted over 125 years ago has grown to over 13,000 residents, and is the largest city in Lewis County, Washington.
  • One of the driving forces of the Civil Rights Movement in Seattle was the desire to end unfair employment discrimination in the city. Thus the Drive for Equal Employment in Downtown Stores (DEEDS) was launched. Although the victory was initially subtle, the DEEDS campaign was successful in bringing fair employment to the forefront of important issues for the city of Seattle in the mid-1960s, and from 1965 on, the number of African Americans working in downtown stores and offices would continue to grow.

Items of Interest Specific to WA

CleanGreens (small nonprofit organization, owned and operated by residents of Seattle’s Central District)
Seattle Tilth  (Seattle Tilth is working with refugees, immigrants and other low-income individuals to create small farming businesses)
Washington State Department of Agriculture
Washington State University-Resources for African Americans  (PDF; 368KB)  (Spokane and local area, Washington State, and National resources)

Specialty Items of interest: 

Presidential Decree of National African American History Month
Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation Settlement

Resources:  (2010 census Black population information)
Association for the Study of African American Life and History  (Founded by Carter G. Woodson)   ( Mentoring and Leadership of African American youth and economic empowerment of the African American Community based on respect for family, spirituality, justice, and integrity).
National Black Emphasis Program Directory (Links to National and State Black Emphasis Program Managers and more)
Washington Agricultural Organizations  (A list of organizations with contact information throughout Washington State)
Outdoor Afro  (Reconnecting African-Americans with the natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening, skiing – and more.)
USDA/1890 National Scholars Program (Historically Black Land-Grant Universities with Full Tuition Scholarships)
Thurgood Marshall College Fund   (Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders)

NOPBNRCSE  The National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE) seeks to enhance the awareness and improve the level of education and professional development of Black employees within NRCS and to increase the participation of Blacks in agriculture, natural resources and related fields. Membership in the organization is open to all employees of NRCS, retirees and friends.

Related Links:  (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
"I Have A Dream" Speech Text by Martin Luther King, Jr.