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Civil Rights

Graphic representing people and diversity.


Civil Rights Vision

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.

Civil Rights Mission

Delivers programs and services related to civil rights to ensure compliance with federal regulations and USDA guidance.

A Civil Rights message from the State Conservationist

Kristy Oates, Texas 

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has a legacy of helping private landowners improve the health of their agricultural operations while protecting natural resources for the future and ensuring the long-term sustainability of American agriculture.

NRCS delivers these services to all persons through long-standing partnerships with Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), in addition to numerous other partnerships. This conservation legacy is the result of the dedication and hard work of NRCS Texas employees across the state.

Our mission and vision statements serve as the foundation for our work and help guide our efforts when faced with competing demands, exciting challenges, and new opportunities that stem from complex Farm Bills and fluctuating industry needs. To carry out our vision and mission, it is vital to treat all employees and customers with dignity and respect and ensure all people are aware of and have an equal opportunity to receive assistance and participate in our programs.

NRCS supports the principles of equal opportunity and diversity in assistance, employment, and education. The agency seeks to ensure that no person will encounter discrimination based on age, color, disability, sex, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran's status. This policy is applicable to both employment practices and administration of programs and activities within the agency.

The Texas Civil Rights Advisory Committee (CRAC) played a critical role during Fiscal Year 2020 in this effort. Under the guidance of the committee, NRCS Texas has done an excellent job in spearheading our commitment to diversity.

The Committee completed several field office Civil Rights Compliance reviews and provided program application and participation data for financial assistance programs to field offices to ensure that equitable assistance is being provided to all persons.

Other Civil Rights Advisory Committee highlights for Fiscal Year 2020 include:

  • Melissa Sturdivant, soil conservationist, Coleman, Texas and American Indian Liaison for Texas, received the NRCS Chief’s “Individual Civil Rights Award.”
  • The USDA-NRCS Texas soil science staff worked with the soils judging teams from Texas A&M Kingsville and the Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI) multi-institution team prior to their Region IV soils judging contest in Arkansas to prepare them for their contests by educating them on a variety of soils. The HSI multi-institutional soil judging team won first place in the soils team pit judging competition.
  • Six $500 Federal Women’s Program scholarships were granted to employees to attend trainings and conferences to further their development as conservation planners.
  • Conducted two tribal consultation sessions with leadership from the three federally recognized tribes in Texas: Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.
  • The NRCS Texas website contains a civil rights section that is updated regularly to ensure information about civil rights and equal opportunity is available to employees and others.

In addition, USDA-NRCS Texas leads the USDA Farm Production and Conservation efforts to conduct outreach to ensure services and funding assistance are available to beginning farmers and ranchers across the state.

The important work carried out by the USDA-NRCS Texas Civil Rights Advisory Committee will be led by Kathleen Traweek, soil conservationist, Brownwood, who will serve as the FY2021 chair.

I appreciate the work of the CRAC and the Special Emphasis Program Managers. NRCS employees have demonstrated that civil rights are not an afterthought, but rather the way that we do business.