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News Release

National Engineering Operational Meeting a Success in the Sooner State

Attendees of the National Engineering Operational Meeting in Oklahoma City.The National Engineering Operational Meeting was held July 17-19 in Norman, Oklahoma. It was the first meeting featuring all State Conservation Engineers, Geologists, and Landscape Architects since 2005 and had roughly 110 people in attendance.


Oklahoma State Conservation Engineer Chris Stoner hosted the events and called the event a success. “I was honored to host this group in Oklahoma and show off the many great things we do here to conserve our natural resources,” said Stoner. “I have never been to a meeting where everyone was focused and engaged for the entire meeting. It was a sign that everyone wanted to be there and that the meeting was of great value. When it ended, unlike a lot of week-long trainings where everyone can’t wait to leave, very few left room. Most hung around for even more discussion.”


Attendees of the National Engineering Operation Meeting heard from a wide range of speakers including Oklahoma State Conservationist Gary O’Neill. O’Neill said, “It’s always great when we can host a national meeting and show the work being done in Oklahoma. We face a variety of challenges in Oklahoma that require teamwork with our USDA partners and our local conservation partners. I hope sharing our experiences with other state leaders and learning about challenges other states face, will help NRCS better serve our customers and protect our natural resources across the country.”


Meeting attendees also had the opportunity to take a few tours. For those who arrived early, there was a tour of the National Weather Service and Oklahoma Mesonet station in Norman. “Oklahoma sees extremes when it comes to weather,” Stoner said. “It was good for other states to see how we work with the National Weather Service and the Oklahoma Mesonet to help people during those extremes.”  Those who stayed late had the opportunity to tour the Oklahoma Emergency Operations Center in Oklahoma City to see what happens during an emergency situation and how NRCS works to help communities before, during, and after emergencies.


As great as those tours were, Stoner said one of the highlights of the meeting was the tour of the USDA-Agriculture Research Service Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit in Stillwater, Oklahoma. “We got to see and discuss with researchers the facilities and activities that have led to many of the design concepts we use today. Also, it was well over 100 degrees but no one seemed to care since it was something they were truly interested in,” said Stoner.


A meeting like this take a lot of time and energy to plan. Stoner said, “I want to thank Noller Herbert, Director of the Conservation Engineering Division, Ann Baldwin, State Conservation Engineer in Delaware, Jo Johnson, National Geologist, and the Engineering Business Area Advisory Group for all their help in making the meeting a great success.”


According to Stoner, plans are already in the works for a follow-up meeting in 2020.