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Committee Co-Chairs

NCRACC-Member-Roylene Rides-at-the-Door Roylene Rides at the Door, Co-Chair - State Conservationist (Washington)

Roylene Rides at the Door was born and raised on the Blackfeet Nation in northwestern Montana.  Her family continues to reside on the original allotment the government assigned to her great-great-grandfather, Rides at the Door. 

She graduated from Montana State University, where she majored in range science and minored in soils.  She grew up in a traditional environment on her family’s ranch and was raised with cultural values of caring for the land. Her father’s work in natural resources and her mother’s role as a science teacher contributed to what she felt was her destiny – a career in conservation.  In her spare time, she enjoys caring for her horses, a family tradition that has spanned seven generations.

Roylene began work with NRCS 27 years ago as a trainee. After graduation, she worked full-time as a Soil Conservationist for NRCS in several field offices in Montana. A promotion to District Conservationist took her to Shelby, Montana. Her next career move took her to Phoenix, Arizona where she served as the American Indian Liaison for the state.  She was promoted to Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Oklahoma and was later selected as State Conservationist in Rhode Island in 2006. In 2009, Roylene was named State Conservationist in Washington State.

NCRACC-Member-Carlos Suarez Carlos Suarez, Co-Chair - State Conservationist (California)

Carlos Suarez became NRCS California’s 11th State Conservationist in January 2013. Carlos began his career with NRCS in October 1992 as a student trainee in Puerto Rico. Mr. Suarez has extensive experience serving in a number of technical and leadership positions, domestically and internationally, including serving in the following capacities:

  • State Conservationist in Florida
  • Deputy State Conservationist in Nebraska and California
  • Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Wisconsin
  • Watershed Advisor for the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Agency for International Development in Nicaragua
  • Farm Bill Program Manager in Indiana
  • Soil Conservationist and District Conservationist in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Suarez also temporarily held two USDA-level positions: Acting Director for the Pacific Islands Area and the Acting Director for the Stewardship and Community Development Division at USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Suarez has been a member of numerous national-level teams and has served on multiple occasions as an international environmental consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development and The Millennium Challenge Corporation. In 2009, Mr. Suarez served as Acting Deputy Country Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development at the U. S. Embassy in Mexico.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mr. Suarez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Mechanization (Engineering) Technology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, a Master of Science degree in Geoenvironmental Studies from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy and Leadership from American University in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Suarez received his SES certification in 2010 through the OPM Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Program.

Mr. Suarez and his wife have three children.

American Indian/Alaska Native Representatives

NCRACC-Member-Cameron Clark Cameron Clark, Area Resource Soil Scientist (Virginia)

Cameron Clark is an Area Resource Soil Scientist in Southwestern Virginia.  He transferred there in 2018 from Wyoming, where he began his NRCS career in 2007.  He spent five years on a soil survey crew and six years as an ARSS in Wyoming.

Cameron was born in Washington, DC and raised in the Virginia suburbs, where he spent as much time as possible out in the woods looking at nature.  Upon graduation, he headed west to “escape the city”!  He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Earth Sciences from Montana State University and a Master’s Degree in Agronomy from the University of Arkansas.  He then began the first phase of his career, working as an Extension Agent for 12 years in Arkansas, New York and Montana.

Cameron served on the Wyoming Civil Rights Committee for six years, as the American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) SEPM and as the Committee Chair.  He has also served on the American Indian Alaska Native Employee’s Association (AIANEA) National Council for five years.

Cameron recently moved to Radford, Virginia and is working at getting his wife, four kids, one horse and two cats moved East or to college.   His professional interests include, soil classification, soil mapping and soil health.  Personal interest include church, geography, foreign languages, agriculture, music, reptiles and the NFL.

NCRACC-Member-Carlee Elke

Carlee Elke, Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Coordinator (Washington)

Carlee Elke serves as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Coordinator in Spokane Valley, Washington. Ms. Elke joined NRCS in 2008 and has worked in over fifteen diverse Field Office locations throughout North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Colorado, and presently Washington. Her professional experience encompasses multiple land uses and ownership types including private, state, tribal, public, and reclaimed lands. She has held the positions of Soil Conservationist, Tribal District Conservationist, Supervisory District Conservationist, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Coordinator. Carlee is an advocate of common sense conservation, copious customer service, leveraging conservation partner dollars for additional conservation, and helping conserve working lands and working families.

Ms. Elke grew up in North Dakota and attended North Dakota State University (NDSU) where she earned her degree in Natural Resources Management with minors in Anthropology, Soil Science, and coursework in Spanish. Her passion and appreciation for conservation, preservation, and sustainability derives from her interest in the outdoors, fly fishing, hiking, and being associated with agriculture all her life. Carlee’s family farms and ranches in North Dakota with their operations consisting of cattle, cover crops, and continuous cropping. In her spare time, she enjoys running marathons and partaking in community organizations and events. Ms. Elke is affiliated with NRCS’s National Civil Rights Advisory Committee to the Chief (NCRACC), Women in NRCS (WiN), American Indian Alaska Native Employees Association (AIANEA), Society for Range Management (SRM), and Spokane Vets on the Farm.

Asian Pacific Islander Representatives

API Female Rep.


NCRACC-Member-JR Perkins JR Perkins, Soil Scientist (Missouri)

J.R. Perkins serves as the Asian-American Pacific Islander male representative on the NCRACC until September 2018.  

JR's mother is from Cebu island in the Philippines and his father was born and raised in the Buffalo, MO area.  Perkins grew up on a farm in Dallas County, Missouri, where his family raised cattle.  After graduating from high school in 1998, he initially attended Missouri Science and Technology, where he was going to major in an engineering field.

After JR attended his first job fair at the campus, he realized that there weren’t many opportunities for an engineering graduate in southwest Missouri.  So, he deciced to transfer to Missouri State with the goal of becoming a NRCS soil scientist.  JR volunteered on the McDonald County, MO soil survey in 2000 and became a SCEP employee shortly thereafter.  

In 2002, JR went to work in the Clinton, MO MLRA Office and in 2006-2008, he worked as a soil conservationist in the Ava, MO office.  In fall 2008, he transferred to the Springfield, MO MLRA office, where he currently serves as a Soil Scientist.  In the summers of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013, JR was on summer detail to Wyoming mapping soils in Carbon and Sweetwater Counties.  

Besides working for NRCS, JR also runs his own businesses selling firewood, logs, manure, compost, and cars.  In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, doing outreach for his church to the Chinese community, and travel (been to every state except Hawaii).  JR recently circumnavigated the globe on his way to and from his home in the Philippines.

Black, African American Representatives

NCRACC-Member - Shantel King Shantel King, Natural Resource Specialist (Tennessee)

Shantel King is currently a Soil Conservationist in Gallatin, TN, where she services both Sumner and Davidson County.  She started her career with NRCS in Casper, Wyoming as a Natural Resource Specialist in 2010, her conservation expertise and passions include: pasture conservation/restoration, outreach and education efforts, working with small and urban agriculture producers, and helping to continue our agency mission of “Helping People, Help the Land”.  Ms. King has also served on national level teams and details which include working with the Director of Conservation Planning and Technical Assistance and most recently completing a detail as an Easement Specialist working with the Easement Support Services Team.

Shantel received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Oakwood College (now University) in Biology in 2007, and continued on to earn her Master of Science in Environmental Science from Tuskegee University in 2010. This is where her love for agriculture and conservation was nurtured, and through numerous recruitment and career fairs, she was introduced to many available career opportunities, including possibilities with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Growing up both overseas in the Caribbean islands and in the United States has given Ms. King a unique perspective and outlook towards life and people of all backgrounds, this view of the world has underpinned her desire to ensure that equality and fairness is consistently woven into the fabric of both her professional and personal life.

Shantel has worked with Civil Rights since the start of her career with NRCS, serving as East Area Liaison for the Wyoming Civil Rights Advisory Committee from 2011-2012.

Her work in Civil Rights, amidst her other conservationist duties, continued when she relocated to Tennessee where she served as a member of the Tennessee Civil Rights Advisory Committee from 2014-2017 and fulfilled roles as Chair of the Civil Rights State Brochure and Interim Civil Rights committee Newsletter Editor. Shantel also completed one year as the Civil Rights Committee Secretary from 2016-2017.

She has recently rejoined the committee as the new Asian American/Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program Manager for the NRCS Tennessee Civil Rights Committee for FY2018-FY2021, and has been an active member of the National Civil Rights Compliance Review Cadre Team since December 2015.  

In her spare time, Shantel enjoys amateur photography, camping, traveling, road trips, museums, DIY projects, event planning and collecting unique rocks.

NCRACC-Member-Sheldon Hightower Sheldon Hightower, State Conservationist (Tennessee)

Sheldon was raised on a farm in Ada, Oklahoma where he and his family grew vegetable crops and managed a cow/calf operation. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Business, with a minor in Crop & Soil Science in 1999 from Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma.

Sheldon began his career under the NRCS Student Career Employment Program in 1996, as a student trainee in Oklahoma and Minnesota. He worked as a Soil Conservationist in Minnesota for two years. In 2002, Sheldon was selected as the District Conservationist in Ulysses, Kansas. In 2003, he also served as Acting Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Coordinator and District Conservationist in Hugoton, Kansas. In 2005, Sheldon was transferred to Emporia, Kansas to serve as an Area Resource Conservationist while he also served a term of four years as the Black Special Emphasis Program Manager on the Kansas Civil Rights Advisory Committee. In 2008, he was transferred to Hutchinson, Kansas and continued to serve as an Area Resource Conservationist.

Sheldon served as Acting National Grassland Reserve Program and Conservation ReserveProgram Manager, Washington, D.C. in 2009; and as Acting Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Pennsylvania in 2010. In 2010, Sheldon was selected as the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in New York, and was assigned a two-year appointment as Chair of the Civil Rights Advisory Committee, and the Lake Ontario Coordinator for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In 2013, Sheldon was detailed as Acting State Conservationist for the State of Nevada. Sheldon served as the Acting Kansas State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from October 15, 2017 through March 3, 2018.

Sheldon has been serving as the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Hutchinson, Kansas for the past four years. He is responsible for the 28 south central and western counties in his administrative area. Sheldon serves on the board for the Tri-State Leadership Development Program and is a member of the Kansas Soil and Water Conservation Society Chapter. Sheldon also serves on the National Civil Rights Advisory Committee to the Chief.

Sheldon has 21 years of experience within the NRCS agency, with seven years being in leadership positions. In these various leadership positions, Sheldon actively promotes mentorship and career development in the NRCS workforce.

Sheldon is a life member of the National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees. He has served on the Election and Budget committees; and was President of the Kansas Chapter.

Sheldon will replace Kevin Brown, who retired in January 2018, as the eighth State Conservationist to serve in Tennessee beginning August 2018.

People with Disabilities Representatives

NCRACC Member Tony Townsend
Tony Townsend, Administrative Programs Specialist (Texas)

Tony Townsend is originally from Paris, Texas.  He was raised on a small family farm with livestock and plenty of alfalfa hay.  After graduating high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served for 23 years.  He served in numerous state side and two overseas locations as a Career Advisor, Personnel Specialist,  a Professional Military Education instructor, and as a Military Training Instructor.

Townsend started his career with NRCS in 2011 as a Business Management Leaders Program (BMLP) intern.  He trained in Texas, Alaska and Oklahoma prior to his current assignment at the Texas State Office.   During his training rotation in Texas, at the Eldorado Field Office,  he gained an  appreciation of the conservation issues and practices that field personnel handle daily.  As a disabled veteran,  Townsend has a great appreciation for the concerns of the  group he represents.  This understanding  allows him to serve as an integral member of the NRCS Civil Rights Advisory Committee.

He has worked as a Human Resources Specialist in the State Office, and on the original national pilot staffing team during the initial stages of the Administration Transformation.  He has worked on several national committees for data integrity and national reporting concerns.  Currently, he serves as an Administrative Programs Specialist, the Texas Pathways Coordinator, and  as  the Texas Disability Special Emphasis Program Manager.

Townsend has  two Associate of Arts degrees in Training Management and Personnel Management from the Community College of the Air Force.  He also graduated from Southwest Texas State University  with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Occupational Education, and graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a Master of Arts in Management.  

He is married and has three grown children; one son and twin daughters.  He has two granddaughters.

Disability Female Rep.

Hispanic Representatives

NCRACC Member Laurel Qualy

Laurel Qualy, Paralegal-Conveyance Examiner (Wisconsin)
Laurel Qualy hails from Wisconsin’s State Office in Madison and is the Paralegal support to the Wisconsin Easements Team as a Conveyance Examiner. In 2009, she joined NRCS through an internship to work on the Emergency Watershed Protection Program conservation easement acquisitions funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and was hired permanently shortly thereafter. In 2012, she was selected as Wisconsin’s Federal Women’s Program Manager serving for four years where she brought a clear understanding of the challenges facing a woman and overcoming racial barriers in the Federal workforce. She also served on Wisconsin’s Management Advisory Team during that period and has the practical experiences of evaluating and researching issues related to program policy and hiring/retention of staff.

Laurel graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Upper Iowa University with a focus in Human Resources Management, Management Principles, and Management Strategies which strengthened her understanding of employee relations and civil rights. Her human resource and management skills are further reinforced through her associate degree in Paralegal. Her studies in Administrative Law, Civil Litigation, Business Law and Employment Law strongly emphasized the areas of civil rights, Equal Employment Opportunities, and the Equal Pay Act. Coursework in Legal Research and Legal Writing further enhances her investigative skills into federal, state, and local law when asked to provide guidance to legal acquisition issues through her easement work.

Her father, born near Odem, Texas was Mexican with a sixth-grade education and was married to her mother who was white. He worked as a mechanic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while her mother, who graduated with degree in nursing, stayed home to raise eight children. Given the financial challenges of raising a family that big with only one income to support all of them, she feels that her parents were successful in instilling clear values and a great work ethic in them all. Laurel, in turn, has been instilling in her two daughters those same clear values and great work ethic. 

NCRACC Member, Ramon Ortiz

Ramon Ortiz, State Planning Specialist (Maryland)
Ramon Oritz is originally from Lajas, PR. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Mechanization (Engineering) Technology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in 2001. After graduating from college Ramon worked for three years for the University of PR as an Instructor of agricultural mechanization courses.

In 2004 he started his “adventure” with NRCS in Rainsville, AL as a Soil Conservationist (a lot of poultry, swine and cotton!). A year and half later Ramon moved a little south and served as Soil Conservationist in Thomasville and Quitman, GA (a lot of peanuts, irrigation and long leaf pine plantation). In 2007 Ramon became a District Conservationist in Naples, FL (a lot of citrus groves, vegetables, ranches and gators!), and served in that capacity for four years before moving north. For the last seven years, Ramon has been the State Planning Specialist, responsible of the planning tools and the technical aspect that help MD field staff carry out our mission “Helping People Help the Land”.

Ramon has served in many capacities including national level details with Technical Service Provider and Conservation Innovation Grant teams and local level detail as Assistant Conservationist-Operations, State Resource Conservationist, Manager of the National Plant Material Center and collateral positions as Civil Right Committee Hispanic Representative in GA, FL and MD.

Ramon is married with two kids and lives in Maryland.

White Representatives

NCRACC-Member-Clint Evans Clint Evans, State Conservationist (Colorado)

Clint Evans is a steward of the land.  He currently services as the State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) in Colorado, but his commitment to conservation began long ago.  

Evans started his career with NRCS in 2000 as a Soil Conservation Technician in Altamont, Kansas, his introduction to the Agency, however, was in the late 1990s.  He was working on the ranch where his then employer enrolled in NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  As a result, Evans gained experience in conservation planning and practice implementation thru financial assistance programs from the customer’s perspective.  He enjoyed working with the NRCS field staff so much that he pursued a career with the Agency.  Working with NRCS staff and its programs as a rancher has proved to be an invaluable experience because he now has a unique perspective from both sides of the natural resource conservation equation.

After his tenure as a technician, Evans served as a Soil Conservationist in two Kansas field offices and was then promoted to District Conservationist in Kingman, Kansas.  Evans’ next move was to the Kansas State Office where he served as a Resource Conservationist on the programs staff and shortly thereafter he was selected as Idaho’s Assistant State Conservationist for Programs.  In an effort to gain an even wider range of expertise and experience, Evans transferred to serve as Idaho’s Assistant State Conservationist for Operations, his post just prior to his current position.  

Evans attended Kansas State University where he not only studied animal science, agri-business, and agronomy, earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Agriculture but also where he met his wife Lynn. 

NCRACC-Member - Tracy Dove Tracy Dove, Resource Conservationist Programs (N. Dakota)

Tracy Dove is a Resource Conservationist on the NRCS State Office Programs staff in Bismarck North Dakota.  She began her career in 1987 as a Soil Conservation Technician. In 2004, after both children had started their own careers, she moved to Beulah North Dakota as a Soil Conservationist for 6 years.  New opportunities opened up and it was off to Jamestown North Dakota as a Program Liaison for 4 years, then back to Bismarck North Dakota as a Resource Conservationist for the past 3 ½ years.  Tracy also served on the North Dakota Civil Rights Committee from 2004 to 2007.

Tracy was born and raised in rural Northwest North Dakota, attended Bismarck Junior College and completed her Natural Resources Studies at Dickinson State University.   Her enthusiasm for the environment and our natural resources began at an early age and continues to this day.  Tracy and her husband live on two acres north of town, just enough to keep out of trouble, with a small no-till garden and a couple of mutts (Hybrids) Jazz and Peep.  In her spare time she enjoys fishing, renovating their lake cabin, spending time with the grandchildren, designing and baking cakes with her daughter, and gardening.