By Beth Mason, NACD North Central Region Representative
In 2014, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) began a three-year project to increase the adoption of soil health practices across the United States. The project consists of two initiatives – one focused on quantifying the monetary benefits of using soil health practices, and the other on promoting producer-led soil health outreach efforts across the country.
To promote soil health education and outreach among American farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners, NACD created the Soil Health Champions Network. The Network is comprised of over 150 landowners and operators who are implementing conservation practices on their land and championing the benefits of soil health within their communities. Soil Health Champions have working relationships with their local conservation districts and USDA service centers, and are often community leaders and early adopters of conservation practices.
Soil Health Champions have two responsibilities to the Network:
- Conduct soil health outreach in their communities. Forms of outreach include holding farm tours, hosting field demonstrations, speaking at conferences and meetings, giving media interviews, presenting at seminars or workshops, and manning educational booths at community events.
- Report on outreach activities to NACD at least twice a year. NACD collects and utilizes Soil Health Champion research, stories, and testimonials on NACD’s website and in national publications. NACD also rounds up information on Soil Health Champion events and outreach and shares it through social media, on its website, and in a quarterly bulletin. By engaging in this network, NACD is able to amplify the voices of conservation-minded producers on a national platform.
In support of the Network, NACD holds educational conference calls, provides technical and promotional resources, and offers scholarships to Champions to attend topical meetings. NACD also manages an exclusive Facebook group in which members can share pictures, videos, articles, and updates on their extraordinary work to improve America’s soils.
Today, the Network spans 40 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. NACD’s 2017 goal is to include a champion from every state and U.S. territory. At NACD, we believe the value of healthy soils touches everyone – even the folks in states where a champion hasn’t yet been recognized. Would you or someone you know like to be a part of our Soil Health Champions Network? Contact NACD North Central Region Representative, Beth Mason, by email or by phone, (317)-946-4463.
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