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NRCS Staff Connects with FFA Students & Ag Teachers on NRCS Careers & Programs

By Dee Ann Littlefield, Public Affairs Specialist

NRCS staff had a busy week visiting with nearly 1,500 students, parents, and ag teachers at the 2022 Texas FFA convention in Fort Worth in July.Each year over 10,000 high school students from across the state of Texas gather for the annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention to learn, celebrate accomplishments, and share their experiences with fellow FFA members. In 2022 the 94th Texas State FFA convention was held in Fort Worth with students’ interests ranging from public speaking to ag mechanics and career and leadership development to raising and showing livestock. While their interests vary, one thing remains the same: these students truly do represent the future of farming and ranching in America.

The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service is always looking for young people to help guide and shape the future of climate-smart agriculture through career and internship positions with the agency. Agency representatives manned a recruiting booth at the 2022 Convention to reach out to this target audience.: NRCS Engineer Mikela Pryor visits with FFA members from Merkel High School about the types of careers in conservation available through NRCS.

“As an agency, NRCS strives to have not only a diverse workforce, but a workforce that is rooted deep in the agriculture mindset,” said Kathleen Traweek, NRCS District Conservationist in Brownwood Texas. Traweek also serves as the agency’s Texas Civil Rights Advisory Committee Chair. “The FFA organization brings together agricultural students from every corner of the state into one place, and these students are made up of a diverse group of young adults that bring a vast array of experiences and interests to the table, which is exactly what our agency is looking for in potential interns and employees.

Monica Purviance, NRCS District Conservationist in Greenville, visits with teachers, students, and parents about the variety of activities a career with the NRCS can include.“In speaking with students at the Texas FFA Convention, you learn that they take pride in their future, and we hope that NRCS will be a part of that future,” Traweek continued. “We were happy to pass along information about our agency and the opportunities we provide not only within our state, but across the nation.”

Traweek commented she and her team of district conservationist, engineers, agronomists and more staffing the booth for the week of the convention visited one-on-one with more than 1,000 students over 300 teachers/parents, as well as 65 landowners and program participants. The NRCS staff provided materials on NRCS Pathways internships, various careers within the agency, as well as Earth Team Volunteer Program information which can help students get volunteer hours in doing something they love and learning more about the agency.

“We also spoke to many parents and teachers that expressed interest in having their local field office employees come speak to their students during the school year for those that were not able to attend or are not a part of FFA,” Traweek added. 

NRCS Texas’ FNRCS Outreach Coordinator and former FFA member Floyd Nauls (center) visits with FFA teachers to help them understand the opportunities NRCS offers through volunteer programs, internships, and careers.loyd Nauls serves as the state’s outreach coordinator and tribal liaison attended the event to visit with attendees about his personal experiences with NRCS. Before Naul’s career with the NRCS he was an FFA member in high school and then attended Prairie View A&M University, where he worked as a summer intern for the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service). This internship experience sparked his interest in the Earth Team volunteer program. Not only did it lead to his career with NRCS, but also provided respect for and contribution to the volunteer program.

“Going to any outreach event rekindles my drive to educate and share the success stories of NRCS but attending the FFA convention took me back to my childhood with my blue jacket, parliamentary procedure, and my show projects,” Nauls said of the event. “Visiting with the students gave me an opportunity to plant that seed with each individual I spoke with to think about their future and bring awareness to the agency.”

NRCS also participated in the annual Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT) held July 25-28 in Corpus Christi. Due to the county being high COVID numbers, an unmanned booth was set up with NRCS programs and career information.In partnership with the FFA convention, NRCS also participated in the annual Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT) held July 25-28 in Corpus Christi. Due to the county being high COVID numbers, an unmanned booth was set up with NRCS programs and career information. More than 60 vocational agriculture teachers signed up to obtain more information on having NRCS coming to present to their students on careers and/or soils.

To learn more about the NRCS and career opportunities with the agency, visit the My NRCS Career page.