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NRCS Pennsylvania Certified Planner Requirements

NRCS Pennsylvania Certified Planner Requirements

Conservation plans are the basis for all assistance that NRCS provides to clients.  All conservation plans developed with NRCS assistance or for NRCS purposes (programs, technical assistance, client requests) must be signed by a NRCS Certified Conservation Planner.  NRCS Certified Conservation Planners can be NRCS employees or volunteers, Conservation District employees, Technical Service Providers (TSPs), or others acting through an agreement with NRCS.

NRCS Certified Planners assist clients identify resource problems, express the client’s long and short term objectives clearly and concisely, propose feasible solutions to resource problems, and encourage the client to choose and implement an effective alternative(s) that treats resource concern(s), meets client’s objectives, and meets all Federal policies.  The Conservation Plan will document the client’s decisions and meets PA NRCS plan documentation requirements. 

To become an NRCS Certified Planner, an individual must complete the courses listed below and submit a satisfactory Module 9 Plan.  In addition, an individual must demonstrate the necessary skills, training, and experience to implement the NRCS nine-step planning process to meet the client objectives in solving natural resource concerns.  NRCS certification is valid for a three-year period and has a Continuing Education Credit (CEC) requirement (see below).  To be re-certified for another three-year period without interruption, a new satisfactory Model 9 Plan must be submitted before the three-year certification period expires.  Individuals wishing to transfer a certification from another state should contact Gwendolyn Crews for information.

Target Audience

Individuals such as NRCS employees or volunteers, Conservation District employees, Technical Service Providers (TSPs), or others acting through an agreement with NRCS may apply for PA NRCS Certified Planner status.  Separate trainings are offered for planners working with general agriculture (crop, pasture, and farmstead) and specialties (biology, forestry, etc.).

Required Courses

To become a PA NRCS Certified Planner, the following courses* must be completed before submitting a Module 9 Plan:

1) Conservation Planning Level 1, Modules 1 – 5 (AgLearn NRCS-NEDC-000019)
2) Introduction to Conservation Planning, Conservation Planning Module 6 (Classroom)
3) Agricultural Conservation Training (PA Boot Camps) Levels I & II, Conservation Planning Module 7 (Classroom)
4) Act 38 Stormwater/P-Index Training (Classroom – 3 day training)
5) Introduction to Water Quality (AgLearn NRCS-NEDC-00033)
6) Cultural Resources Modules 1 – 6 (AgLearn NRCS-NEDC-000141)
7) Cultural Resources Modules 7 – 8 (Classroom)
8) Ag Waste Management Systems, Level 2 (AgLearn NRCS-NEDC-000116)
9) Conservation Planning Module 8 (Classroom)

* The courses are listed in the order in which they are recommended to be completed, as some courses are prerequisites for other courses.

Module 9 Plan Submission

The Module 9 Plan must be submitted within one year of completing Certified Planner Module 8 Training.  The plan must be independently developed by the individual applying for certification and must document the client’s decision.  The completed plan must be sent to:

PA State Office
One Credit Union Place, Suite 340
Harrisburg PA 17110
Attn: G. Crews

Continuing Education Credit (CEC) Requirements

NRCS Certified Planners can complete their continuing education credit requirements by attending pre-approved events listed in quarterly PA NRCS Ecological Sciences and Planning Training Opportunities Bulletin. Click here for a list of opportunities.  The number of PA NRCS Certified Planner Continuing Education Credit hours and the corresponding category preapproved for each event is shown in parenthesis () after the event name.  CECs earned before the current certification period do not qualify. 

Continuing Education Credits will be preapproved for the following categories:

- Crop (Cover Crop/No-Till)
- Pasture (Grazing)
- Farmstead (Nutrient Management)
- Biology (Wildlife and Buffers)
- Optional (Other)
      o Energy
      o Forestry
      o Planning
      o Specialty Crop

PA NRCS Certified Conservation Planners must obtain a minimum of 4 CECs in each of the following categories during the three-year certification period: Crop; Pasture; Farmstead; and Biology.

PA NRCS Certified Specialist Planners must obtain a total of 15 CECs, with a minimum of 6 of these CECs within the specialty category, during the three-year certification period. 



Natural Resources Conservation Service
Gwendolyn Crews