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VT FSA/NRCS Civil Rights Advisory Committee Meeting

January 28, 2010

NRCS/FSA State Office Conference Room



Notetaker for meeting: Jim Eikenberry


Members Present:

NRCS: Ann Lansberry, Jim Eikenberry, Pete Lossman, Marybeth Whitten, Lorrie Doering, Tom Burke, Roslyn Odum, Judy Doerner and Ellen Sivret via telephone


FSA: Lawrence Parker, Steve Johnson, Sue Monahan, Phyllis Torrey



The meeting was called to order at 9:30am by co-chairs Roslyn Odum and Phyllis Torrey.


Minutes of the October 16, 2009 CRAC meeting were reviewed and approved.


I. SEPM Reports


Ann Lansberry �Disability SEPM

Ann sent out two emails to all employees during Disability Awareness month and one all employees email commemorating Veterans Day.� She also attended a Disability& Veterans SEPM teleconference and has continued to share information about hiring authorities and opportunities for Veterans, including Operation Warfighter.


Jim Eikenberry- Asian American /Pacific Islander SEPM

Jim created and gave a presentation on NRCS and Civil Rights to 170 UVM freshmen and transfer students.� Jim has also been in touch with some of those students since then with information about NRCS internship opportunities.� Jim also shared with the group that his SEPM term expires on October 1st 2010 and that he is actively recruiting a new NRCS employee to volunteer for that role.


Pete Lossman -Native American � SEPM

Pete has sent out several informational emails and continues to work with archaeologist Dave Skinas on cataloguing and describing Native American artifacts.



Roslyn Odum� Hispanic SEPM

Roslyn has worked on coordinating a panel for Diversity Day on the topic of Migrant Workers in Vermont.� She has also sent out several informational emails and recruitment materials.


Sue Monahan- FSA SEPM

Sue has been working on a SEPM plan for the VT FSA.


Marybeth Whitten- Women�s SEPM

Marybeth attended a Women�s SEPM teleconference and has been involved with discussions about forming a Women�s SEPM organization.


Judy Doerner- State Conservationist

Judy reminded everyone to submit quarterly Civil Rights reports to the new State Conservationist.


Steve Johnson - FSA State Civil Rights Coordinator

Steve is working on creating a FSA all employee civil rights training.� This training will likely be modeled after the NRCS Civil Rights in Program Delivery training and there may be some opportunities for joint NRCS & FSA training with this.� Steve is also looking for FSA training opportunities to increase the accessibility of information to FSA staff.� Steve also reported that THE ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS (ADA/ABAAS) SECTION NUMBERS now MATCH building code NUMBERS for handicapped accessibility.� He has a cd training available on handicapped accessibility; if anyone is interested they can contact him.�


II. Northern New England NRCS Recruitment Plan


�Rosyln has been working with New Hampshire and Maine NRCS staff to complete the final draft of the Northern New England NRCS Recruitment Plan.� All updated contacts will need to be sent to Roslyn ASAP.� Next steps involve developing a calendar of recruitment events and identifying advertising strategies.� Also need to identify who will keep the plan updated.


Judy recommended that the plan be implemented in a coordinated manner between VT, NH & Me and that Cathee Wilson in Maine be contacted to lead this effort.� Roslyn agreed to contact Cathee about this and the committee agreed to get all updated recruitment contact information to Roslyn ASAP.


Judy further commented that it isn�t fair for Vermont to have to handle all out of State contacts and that Cathee needs to make sure this work is distributed equitably.� Judy also noted that any paid advertising would have to be very specific and targeted.


Phyllis noted that Brian Kuper is the FSA�s recruiter here in Vermont.


III. All USDA Agency Civil Rights Review

Judy informed the committee that FSA, NRCS, & RD will all undergo a Civil Rights review sometime this Spring.� Six field offices will be visited.� This is a USDA department level review.� No additional guidance was available at this time.


Phyllis mentioned the Cultural Diversity Series taking place 3/10, 4/7 and 5/12 at the Fletcher Free Library.


IV. Judy Doerner Parting Remarks

Judy expressed her appreciation for the focus and work of the CRAC and encouraged them to focus on assisting the field with the upcoming Civil Rights review.� Judy also noted the importance and challenges of recruiting diverse panels of applicants for open positions and training all employees on Civil Rights issues.� She encouraged the CRAC to stay connected with FSA and NRCS state leadership.


V. Welcoming Committee

Jim Eikenberry and Marybeth Whitten discussed their new and emerging role as a �New Employee Welcoming� subcommittee of the CRAC.� In this role they have sent out introductory emails to newly hired NRCS staff and let them know about the CRAC, welcomed them to NRCS, and offered to be another source of information to them about working for NRCS.� Emails were also sent to new employee�s supervisors and were clear that they were not attempting to usurp the supervisor�s role in training and supporting new employees.� The emails were well received and appreciated by the new staff.


Judy made it clear that the role of the Welcoming subcommittee was not training and Jim responded that they were not offering and training or usurping the supervisor.� The emails are literally saying hello, welcome, the CRAC exists, contact us if you have any questions on this or anything that we might be able to help with.� Other than the welcoming most new employees have appreciated getting an updated organizational hierarchy flow chart from this subcommittee.


VI. Complaint Letter

A complaint letter was received about one of the chosen speakers for Diversity Day.� The committee discussed the topic thoroughly and reaffirmed that the point of Diversity Day is to share information and educate people, not advocacy but awareness.� All speakers will be given clear guidance on this.� With all speakers having clear guidance also that the goal of the day is to be inclusive and celebratory.


VII. Operation Warfighter

Anne Lansberry talked about this staffing program that allows for Veterans working on healing injuries to have work opportunities with an agency like FSA or NRCS.� Judy recommended that Anne and or the CRAC contact Cathee Wilson to see how she felt about this opportunity and what positions might be a good fit for this too.


VIII. Other Business

Roslyn noted that Danny Peet in the NRCS Williston office has been working with the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and this may be a future area of outreach or technical assistance for the CRAC, FSA, & NRCS.


Roslyn agreed to send out a list of language translation resources available in Vermont.


Updates of FY2010 Goals�The new CRAC member training was completed in St Johnsbury and by telephone call on November 10, 2009 by Judy Doerner, with Lawrence Parker, Tom Burke, Ellen Sivret, Marybeth Whitten and Phyllis Torrey attending.�


The next CRAC meeting is schedule on April 22nd.