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USDA-NRCS is Better Together

By Quenna Terry, NRCS Public Affairs Specialist

New employees with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas and NRCS partners now have the opportunity to train in the field together.training materials_classroom

On the South Plains region, 40 employees and two Quail Forever partner biologists participated in a three-and-a-half day training in Lubbock, Lynn and Terry counties.  For some, this training is the first time they’ve had face-to-face interaction with their coworkers and specialists in a group setting since they started with the agency.

Trng_classroomZ1_06072022_1Between classroom and field instruction, employees were presented information from a host of disciplines including ecological sciences, engineering, technology transfer, administrative and communications.

“The new employee training was the top priority once everyone was able to safely meet following the pandemic,” said Chad Reed, NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations in the Lubbock zone. “These employees were trying their very best to learn through virtual means and it simply can’t replace the value of in-person instruction and learning.”

NRCS zone one specialists developed the training for employees to showcase soils, ecological sites, plant identification, water embankment and dams, terracing, irrigation water management through efficient irrigation systems, permanent grass planting, upland cotton, cover crops and vineyards.

Soil instruction_uplandcottonfield_Kelly_1Employees were excited to be with their peers and leaders to learn and engage in discussion.

Vance Parsons, soil conservationist in the Brownfield Field office, and new employee said, “I think this training is a good opportunity because we haven’t seen any of this yet, and we’ve met people in person that we haven’t had the chance to meet before.”

Following the first day of classroom instruction, NRCS specialists led a caravan of vehicles to multiple training locations where employees learned about native grass pasture, the Tahoka Salt Lakes, seedling cotton, erosion caused primarily by wind, range plants, drought conditions and much more.

Leah Svoboda, engineering student from West Texas A&M and pathways intern said, “I like this training because I can learn what my job is about, and I get to explore outside of it too.”

“We are pleased to have so many new employees and pathway interns with NRCS who were recruited and hired in the last two years,” Reed said. “I can’t remember a time in my career with so many new hires at one time. The future for NRCS and helping our customers is bright.”Trng_Eng_embankment_TahokaSaltLake06072022_3