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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

Cameron Clark is an Area Resource Soil Scientist in Wyoming, where he has worked for the past ten years.  He started in Saratoga in 2007 as a Career Intern Soil Scientist, mapping soils for the Carbon County Soil Survey.  He moved up to Douglas for the Area position in 2012. 

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 four years.

Cameron lives in the tiny town of Rolling Hills, Wyoming with his wife, four kids, one horse, two cats and six lizards.   His professional interests include, soil classification, soil mapping and soil health.  Personal interest include geography, foreign languages, agriculture, reptiles and the NFL.

NCRACC-Member-Carlee Elke

Carlee Elke, Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Coordinator

Carlee Elke serves as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Coordinator in Washington state. Ms. Elke joined NRCS in 2008 and has worked in over ten diverse Field Office locations throughout North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Colorado, and presently Washington. Carlee's professional experience encompasses multiple land uses and ownership types including private, state, tribal, public, and reclaimed lands. She 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, hunting, hiking, and being associated with agriculture all her life. Carlee’s family farms and ranches in North Dakota with their operations consisting of continuous cropping of small grains, sugar beets, cattle, and hay production. In her spare time, Carlee enjoys running marathons and partaking in community organizations and events. She 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 4H.

Asian Pacific Islander Representatives

NCRACC-Member-Brenda Ling Brenda Ling, Public Affairs Specialist

Brenda Ling has been the state public affairs specialist for Wyoming since 2010.

She was born in Hong Kong and came to the United States with her family when she was three. Her paternal grandfather, a Chinese soldier who fought alongside the Allies, arrived in New York City shortly after World War II ended. Only after U.S. immigration policies changed, 25 years later, was he reunited with his family.  

Her family have been farmers in China since time immemorial and high-rise apartments did not deter them from cultivating indoor gardens. When her parents bought a house in Queens, they began growing fruits and vegetables in their tiny backyard. As a child, Brenda thought her family “weird.” Today, their efforts are called “urban conservation.”

New York City provided excellent educational and cultural opportunities. Brenda and her three siblings attended Chinese school on weekends and during summers. Learning languages came easily for her, so she also studied French and Russian.

After graduating college, she worked as a journalist for local, state, and national newspapers, including the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register, and USA Today.

Brenda then went into public affairs, joining the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Grand Forks, N.D., in 2003. During this tenure, she earned a master’s degree from the University of North Dakota.

She lives in Casper with husband Chuck Kimmerle, an Army veteran and a landscape photographer of renown who as a photojournalist won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1997 Red River Flood.

They have two amazing dogs. Buster, a golden retriever/basset hound, went paralyzed. After back surgery, he defied the odds and has climbed Casper Mountain numerous times. Zi, a Pomeranian mix, had belonged to a Native American family. He understands commands in English and Lakota.

NCRACC-Member-JR Perkins JR Perkins, Soil Scientist

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

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, Assistant State Conservationist

Sheldon Hightower, a native of Ada, Oklahoma, and 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 Natural Resources Conservation Service (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 RC&D Coordinator and District Conservationist in Hugoton, Kansas. In 2005, Sheldon was transferred to Emporia, Kansas to serve as an Area Resource Conservationist and also served four years as the Black Emphasis Program Manager. 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 Reserve Program Manager, Washington, D.C. in 2009; and as Acting Assistant State Conservationist-Field Operations in Pennsylvania in 2010. In 2010, Sheldon was selected for Assistant State Conservationist, assigned two year appointment as Chair of the Civil Rights Advisory Committee, and the Lake Ontario Coordinator for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in New York. In 2013, Sheldon was detailed as Acting State Conservationist of Nevada.    

Currently, Sheldon is the Assistant State Conservationist in Hutchinson, Kansas. He is responsible for the 28 south central and western counties in his Administrative Area.

Sheldon serves on the Tri-State Leadership Board and is a member of the Kansas Soil and Water Conservation Society Chapter.

Sheldon is a life member of The Organization and serves on the Executive Board. He has served on the Election and Budget committees; and was President of the Kansas Chapter of NOPBNRCSE.

People with Disabilities Representatives

NCRACC-Member-John Caine John Caine, Soil Conservation Technician

John was born and raised in Wisconsin. He had the opportunity to live in Washington, D.C. and Maryland for 10 years prior to college and working for NRCS. In 1999, John moved back to Wisconsin because the Midwest has always been in his heart.

John graduated from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, with a B.S. in Geography. He concentrated his studies in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems.

Caine began working with NRCS 18 years ago through the Hired Authorize Program as a Cartographer for the Wisconsin Digitizing Unit at the Madison State Office.  He decided to change his career path to a Soil Conservation Technician after taking 2 years of the Natural Resources Program from Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.  In 2008, John became the SCT for Outagamie County, and now works in the Madison State Office on the Resource and Easement Team since 2009 and have recently added Engineering responsibilities.

John served on the Wisconsin Civil Rights Committee for six years, as the Served Wisconsin Disability SEPM. 

John and his wife Tiffany reside in Watertown, WI. Outside of work, John enjoys traveling, gardening, collecting rocks, ice fishing and hunting.

NCRACC Member Kathryn DesForge Kathryn DesForge, Area Resource Soil Scientist

Kathryn DesForge, a Wisconsin native, holds a B.S in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls, and is currently a MLRA Soil Scientist in Fargo, North Dakota. Her experience as a soil scientist is varied and includes working in academia, the private sector, and the public sector. Upon graduating from college, Kathryn was hired by UW-RF to assist in soils research, and teach all Introduction to Soil Science labs. She then moved to Logan, Utah and worked for the Soils Department and the Utah State Climatologist at Utah State University for three years. Kathryn also worked for 5 years in the private sector as a Soil Scientist/Program Manager at Cedar Corporation, a full service engineering firm.
While at Cedar Corp, she worked on several projects that included; wetland delineations, gas, and chemical remediations, environmental assessments, and many other tasks related to environmental engineering and property development. In addition to working for academia and the private sector, Kathryn was hired by the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service as a soil scientist in Northern Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin NRCS was working on a “first-time-over” mapping project in the northern 10 counties, which encompassed over 1 million acres.  Kathryn was a soil scientist in the Spooner, WI office for 5 years where she was part of the crew that mapped Washburn, Douglas and Sawyer counties.  She also served as an Area Resource Soil Scientist for 3 ½ yrs in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and on a detail as the Acting State Soil Scientist in Reno, Nevada.  She has worked for the USDA-NRCS for 12 years.

In her spare time Kathryn is an avid photographer.  She spends much of her time outdoors with her border collie, Pepper, traveling to different states and parks photographing, landscapes and wild horses.

Kathryn also holds the belief that she has been given talents and abilities and should give back to the community and others.  She has gone with her church on three different mission trips to: Russia, China, and Africa.  On the mission trip to Africa this past fall, Kathryn worked with a cooperative of women farmers implementing soil health principles on their small garden plots. Riding horse and caring for her animals keeps her busy when she’s not working, photographing, with friends and family, or doing community service.

Hispanic Representatives

NCRACC-Member-Nora De La Rosa

Nora De La Rosa, Executive Assistant
Nora L. De La Rosa was born in San Antonio, Texas.  She was raised in South Texas where her family still resides.  

Nora gained most of her experience while working in several agencies.  She 1st started out of high school with the US Army.  She then moved to Germany where she worked with DOD – Army & Air Force and then with the school system DoDDS.   

Nora’s passion besides her family is travel.  She has traveled extensively across Europe and continues to travel to see her 3 daughters & grandchild who are as far north (Alaska) and as far south (Brazil) and Arizona, they keep her jet setting across the states & country.

Nora began work with NRCS 16 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona where she worked as the Executive Assistant for the State Conservationist.  She then was promoted and moved to Annapolis, Maryland where she currently works as the Executive Assistant for the State Conservationist. Nora has served as the Federal Women’s Program Manager, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Program Manager, the Maryland Vice - Chair & Chair.  Nora serves as the Hispanic Representative on the NCRACC and also serves on the National Civil Rights Compliance Review Cadre.  

NCRACC Member, Ramon Ortiz

Ramon Ortiz, State Planning Specialist
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

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.