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Planting Roots Far from Home: Featuring David Rosales

By Tyler Maxwell, Texas CRAC - Zone 5 Representative

ArcGIS Story Map on David Rosales (Open ArcGIS storymap with latest version of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, or Microsoft Edge)

man stands in a fieldIn south Texas lies the historical city of Laredo, which is commonly referred to as the heart of Webb County. Laredo is home to David Rosales, a rangeland management specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Texas.

Rosales now lives in Bridgeport, Texas, and also serves on the NRCS Texas Civil Rights Committee as the Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager.

The NRCS Texas Civil Rights vision is to be an inclusive, diverse, and equitable agency that delivers programs and services in a manner based on and consistent with fairness, equality, availability, and accountability, while ensuring that applicants and employees are treated with respect and free from discrimination.

Prior to employment with NRCS, Rosales went to United High School in Laredo where he was heavily involved in the FFA Chapter. His desire and passion for farming and agriculture roots back to both sets of his grandparents that were cattle ranchers. Since the 1960s, his family has owned and operated a ranch in a small town called Ejido La Rosita, Coahuila, about 40 miles south of Big Bend National Park.

“I remember my brother and I would help my grandparents farm and ranch every summer,” Rosales said. “Since high school, I have had the idea of working  in an agriculture-related field.” To attain his goal, Rosales focused on school.

“My mother attended school until she was in the sixth grade, that is all that was offered at the time in Mexico”, he said. “My brother and I are actually first-generation college students.”

After graduating high school in 2014, Rosales enrolled in Laredo Community College (LCC), now Laredo College. While completing his basic courses at LCC, Rosales attended a USDA-NRCS outreach presentation. That is when he met NRCS Texas resource team leader - Flavio Garza. Rosales right away saw an opportunity to pursue his dream of working in the agriculture field after hearing Garza’s presentation.

“I saw an opportunity and jumped on it,” Rosales said. “I have wanted to work in the agriculture field since high school and hearing that presentation provided me an opportunity to do so.”

Rosales began as an Earth Team Volunteer (ETV) with NRCS Texas. He volunteered from August 2015 until June 2016 with the Laredo field office while still attending college. While at LCC, his major was Animal Science, but after working as a volunteer with NRCS, he switched to Range and Wildlife Management.

Rosales said a few of the things that persuaded the change was that “NRCS employees never did the same thing every day.  He was amazed by the ingenuity and innovation of implementing conservation practices, and how knowledgeable his peers and the producers he worked with were.”

Once Rosales finished serving as a volunteer, he transitioned to a part-time employee with the Webb County Soil Water Conservation District #337. As a technician, he learned how to effectively communicate with landowners and help them progress towards achieving their goals and objectives with their property. He took the most pride in giving technical advice, assisting producers with plant identification, and helping them become overall better land stewards. David says the thing he valued the most from his time with Webb Co. SWCD was “the invaluable knowledge of how managing our finite natural resources is an everyday decision, and how NRCS implements cost-share programs to assist the producer manage their land.”

During the fall semester of 2016, David made the decision to transfer to Texas A&M University Kingsville (TAMUK) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Range and Wildlife Management. While at TAMUK, he was an active member of the university’s Plant ID club, a member of the Society of Range Management and a member of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. He competed in state and nationwide plant identification contests and attended multiple seminars and conferences where he advanced his understanding in the management of natural resources. During the nationwide conferences, he met several students and professionals who shared his passion for range and wildlife management.

After completion of his first school year with TAMUK, David pursued a position as a summer intern position through the Pathways Program with USDA-NRCS. A week into the summer of 2017 he accepted a position in Zapata, Texas, as a range management specialist. While in Zapata, Rosales praised how “the Resource Team Leader (RTL) in the Zapata Field Office gave me more responsibility and treated me like a full-time employee. This gave me confidence in my duties inside and outside the office, and while working with my peers on the resource team and the Zone specialists.” His second internship placed him seven hours away from home in the city of Athens, TX. While at Athens, David described his experience as “being out of my element forced me to learn more about a completely different eco-region of Texas in one summer.” At times while out in the field David said, “it was odd for the sun to be completely covered up by the tops of trees in east Texas, this was the polar opposite of everything I had known and grown up with in south Texas.”

Following graduation in May of 2019 from TAMUK, Rosales received a job offer as the rangeland management specialist in Decatur, Texas. Since starting in August 2019, David has enjoyed every day of being on the Decatur resource team and being a part of Zone 5. “The team is incredible, and the producers are second-to-none.”

In the fall of 2020, David said “I’ve has always had a passion about the agency’s Civil Rights vision” so he made the decision to submit his name to become the Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager (HEPM) for the state of Texas and was rightfully selected for the position. “I want to serve as the HEPM to provide outreach and employment opportunities to the Hispanic community,” Rosales said. “I think it is important to have all groups equally represented in the workforce.”

Although he is seven hours north of his hometown of Laredo, he has found his niche and is excited about his future with Texas NRCS in Decatur, and as the Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager.  “I am proud to be able to go through this journey because I can relate to college recruits and new employees; I want to be able to share the knowledge and skills I have learned with them through my process of becoming an impactful NRCS employee.” David has achieved a multitude of accomplishments since coming on full-time in August of 2019, and the future is brighter than ever for Mr. Rosales. David states at the end of the day, “I wouldn’t be anything I am today without giving thanks to my parents, everyone that has supported me along this journey, the NRCS Field Office in Laredo and the Webb Co. SWCD #337 board for providing me the opportunity and turning my spark of interest into a burning passion of conserving our natural resources and helping people, help the land.”