MCD – District Conservation Technician Project
The District Conservation Technician Program is a federal, state and local partnership to deliver natural resource conservation technical assistance to private landowners.
We provide district landowners with technical assistance for conservation planning and practice implementation to NRCS standards – increasing local activity to address natural resource concerns and helping maximize UDSA cost-share opportunities. This must constitute at least 80% of the technician’s workload.
Our technician undertakes a certain amount of other technical duties such as non-NRCS technical assistance, technical research, write technical pieces for education or grant purposes, technical presentations at workshops or meetings for adults. Our technician raises the district’s profile by interacting with landowners as a district employee and creates district publicity opportunities through their work activities. Their purpose is to preserve or increase conservation technical assistance to landowners.
This program allows applicants to apply for 72.5% cost-share to employ technical staff to implement Farm Bill conservation practices/planning on private land.
District Conservation Technicians Part 2:
Public and Youth Engagement at the Four States Agricultural Exposition
Each year, the Four States Agricultural Exposition takes place in mid-March at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds in Cortez. The event serves to “provide a forum for agricultural producers, suppliers and consumers in the Four Corners Region, that will showcase new agricultural technology, offer innovative ideas, and advance effective production and marketing of traditional, specialized and alternative agricultural products through education, demonstrations and promotion.” Within the event, the Children’s Agricultural Learning Facility (CALF) aims to connect youth and public visitors with local experts spanning the whole agricultural spectrum, and provide meaningful, experiential education.
Patrick Clements, Technician with the Mancos Conservation District (MCD), attended the event this year as an educator with the Expo’s CALF program. As a result, Patrick spent three days engaging and educating the next generation of soil and water stewards.
Participating in CALF required Patrick to develop and lead a station with both educational and hands-on elements. He designed his station to show very basic soil texturing methods to determine soil type – keeping in mind that the majority of his audiences would be 1st graders.
The first two days of the program, students visited the event through pre-arranged school field trips. Patrick engaged groups of students for 20 minutes at a time throughout the day, seeing approximately 130 students overall. The third and final day of the program, Patrick interacted with public visitors ranging from infants to adults. Over 600 people visited CALF during its Saturday hours.
Visitors at MCD’s station were encouraged to explore some different textured components of soil (ex: sand, clay, and loam), especially by utilizing their sense of touch. “Texture dictates how much water is available for plant uptake,” Patrick explained. Next, curious minds could compare two local soil samples, learning how each one is a combination of components, ultimately forming a specific class of soil.
Part three of MCD’s station enabled students to combine the aforementioned components and form their own soils. Next, students observed water filtration through the different soil layers/types. For the more mature audiences, Patrick explains, “the correct crop for a soil type should be irrigated with the correct amount of water for maximum growth.”
In the end, Patrick reports that the kids did seem to connect the main points of the exercise, and of course loved the hands-on experience of playing in the soil.
Join MCD next year for another hands-on CALF experience – all ages welcome!