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Melissa Sturdivant Honored during Joint Employee Training

By Bertha T. Venegas, State Outreach Specialist

The American Indian Alaskan Natives Employees Association (AIANEA) honored its leaders at their Annual training on August 23-25, 2019 in Spokane, Washington.

The “Strive for the Summit” Joint Employees Association Training was in conjunction with the Asian Pacific Islander Organization (APIO), the National Organization of Professional Hispanic Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees (NOPHNRCSE), the National Organization of Professional Women in Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees (WiN), and Equality USDA.Texas NRCS employee Melissa Sturdivant received National AIANEA Presidents Award.

Honorees during this year’s training included Melissa Sturdivant from Texas who was recognized for her achievements during the awards banquet on August 23.

Sturdivant received the AIANEA President’s Award.  In the past six years she has worked closely at the right side of five AIANEA Presidents serving as secretary for the National Council. 

Carol Crouch, past president stated, “When I served as AIANEA’s President, Melissa was the glue that held our organization together in most cases assisting with the day-to-day management and business of AIANEA.”

Sturdivant is known for demonstrating outstanding leadership and initiative.  She finds time and energy to volunteer for several of AIANEA’s Committees such as the Scholarship Committee, the Audit Committee, and the Elder’s Council serving as Elder Ted Herrera’s NRCS Representative. 

Crouch continued, “Melissa took on the additional leadership role and Co-Chaired the Scholarship Committee and donated countless hours working alongside the members of the Scholarship Committee to do research and consult with financial and legal professionals in re-designing of the AIANEA Scholarship Program to ensure its longevity for years to come.  Melissa continues to Co-Chair this committee working to develop a strong and sustainable Scholarship Program that will fulfill AIANEA’s promise to provide educational opportunities to students and tribal communities across the nation.”

In addition to Sturdivant’s volunteer work with AIANEA, she serves as the State Tribal Liaison for Texas NRCS and assists the state conservationist and local field office staff with outreach and program delivery to the federally-recognized tribes in Texas.  She is also a professional member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and serves as secretary for the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of AISES.  Additionally, she has served on the NRCS recruitment team conducting outreach and recruitment education during the AISES National Conference for the last four years.   She is also a valuable cadre member of the Working Effectively with American Indian Tribes national training course and openly shares her Choctaw culture and family’s history to other NRCS employees so they can have a better understanding of American Indian culture from the heart of a fellow NRCS employee.

After serving on AIANEA’s National Council previously as secretary, Sturdivant is now the   First Vice President.

Sturdivant is passionate about AIANEA and its mission.

You can learn more about the American Indian Alaskan Natives Employee Association by visiting their website at