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Starr County Resident Rises to National Grazing Lands Coordinator


Michael Margo collecting lichen biomass production data on Alaska rangeland last August in support of ecological site development.

 

Temple, Texas, July 14, 2020 – Starr County resident, Michael Margo, is the new the National Grazing Lands Coordinator in Fort Worth. He will be responsible for leading national partnerships with groups such as the National Grazing Lands Coalition, Society of Range Management and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.

NatGLC is a nationwide consortium of individuals and organizations working together on mostly private land to maintain and improve the management and the health of the Nation’s grazing lands.  The NatGLC works with state coalitions such as Texas Grazing Lands Coalition (TXGLC) to help accomplish its mission by organizing rancher workshops, demonstrations, and trainings throughout the year.  NRCS and TXGLC have trained grazing land specialists that can work voluntarily one-on-one with landowners and land managers at no charge. 

Conservation Legacy

Margo was raised in a conservation-minded ranching family in Rio Grande City and had the opportunity to see a successful partnership with the family ranch and conservation benefits throughout his life.

The Margo family has worked with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) now the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) since 1947, when his grandfather, Raymundo T. Margo, was the first chairman of the Starr County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). His grandfather was also the first SWCD member who had a conservation plan on the family’s south Texas ranch.

“My father, Dr. Roberto S. Margo, has continued the working relationship with NRCS since the late ‘60s while serving as ranch manager,” said Margo. “My uncle, Ray T. Margo Jr., retired from SCS/NRCS in 1993 as New Mexico’s State Conservationist after 37 years of service working in both Texas and New Mexico.”

“I have personally seen the results of successful conservation practices that have been implemented with the assistance of NRCS at the family ranch over many years,” said Margo. “My upbringing has inspired me to continue the legacy of conserving our natural resources not only at the family ranch but on private lands across the nation.” 

Legacy Shapes Career

After three years of undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University in College Station, Margo returned to south Texas to join AmeriCorps for two years, promoting environmental awareness issues at the Texas AgriLife Extension Office in Rio Grande City.  His experience with AmeriCorps and working with ranchers, NRCS and extension rangeland specialists inspired him to change his major to Rangeland Ecology and Management. He returned to A&M and earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Rangeland Ecology and Management.   

Margo started his federal career with the Department of Interior in Estes Park, Colorado from 2004 to 2006. His next move was to Marfa, Texas as a rangeland management specialist from 2006 to 2014 then onto Tolland, Connecticut as NRCS Soil Survey Region 12 ecological data qualify specialist where he worked on development of ecological sites. He was hired in May 2020 as the national grazing lands coordinator and moved to Fort Worth.  

“Developing effective grazing plans requires knowledge of land resources, their potential, and dynamics and NRCS provides this valuable information for ranchers or land managers through a product called ecological site descriptions,” said Margo. “Ecological sites are the basic component of a land classification system that identifies areas of land with unique soil and vegetation characteristics.  By providing a description of the site’s physical and biological characteristics (soil, climate, landform, plant community dynamics, plant production, and management interpretations), a rancher or land manager can assess the condition of current resources, evaluate management opportunities, and predict the outcome of their management decisions.” 

Margo served in several details and acting roles with NRCS including: assisting the national rangeland management specialist in development of an ecological site description handbook and ecological site training; served as a subject matter expert for the NEDC course Rangeland Ecology I and II; served in details assisting the National Grazing Land Team in Ft., Worth,  and serving as President of the National Organization of Professional Hispanic NRCS Employees (NOPHNRCSE). Margo has been a member of the Society of Range Management since 1999.

“I would like to acknowledge my parents, Dr. Roberto S. Margo and Minerva H. Margo for instilling the importance of education, responsibility, and integrity and my wife, Suzanne Margo our son, John Michael and my daughter who is arriving end of this month.”Michael Margo is the new the National Grazing Lands Coordinator in Fort Worth. He will be responsible for leading national partnerships with groups such as the National Grazing Lands Coalition, Society of Range Management and the National Cattleman's Beef Association.

Future Conservation Efforts

As the new national coordinator, Margo would like to continue the success of the organization, but also cultivate new national and state partner organizations who support the vision and mission of NatGLC.

“Local grazing coalitions are the key to disseminating pertinent grazing land information and assistance,” said Margo. “I would like to eventually see all states have local coalitions.  My experience with AmeriCorps has instilled in me their motto of Getting Things Done while working as a team member and that’s what I intend to do in the realm of grazing lands stewardship.”

Landowners and land managers interested in knowing the productivity of their land, or need help developing a conservation management plan, or would like a soil and ecological site map of their ranch, can contact their local USDA service center for assistance.   

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