My agriculture career began in the private sector with a successful cow-calf operation in my home state of Texas. In the private sector, one quickly learns the need to work together. Improving the partnership between NRCS and private landowners is one of my continuing goals as the new state conservationist in Louisiana.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several people in the forestry industry in Louisiana, but let me introduce myself. I grew up in the south Texas town of Victoria, graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Agricultural Economics and eventually owned and ran a successful cow-calf operation.
It was during those early years when I was introduced to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and learned firsthand about the technical services it provides to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. I also learned the important role the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) had in working with private landowners in the conservation of our ecosystem. I was so impressed with the organization and the services that NRCS provided to me, I decided to pursue a career with NRCS.
My first job with NRCS was as a soil conservatist at two locations in Texas. Next, I became a district conservationist in Oahu, Hawaii, and for the past eight years, I served as the assistant state conservationist for field operations in Oklahoma. When the opportunity to come to Louisiana presented itself, I was excited and I still am.
I remember what I appreciated most as an NRCS customer, and that was the technical assistance I received. I want NRCS Louisiana to be known as the “go-to” agency for technical experts in all areas of conservation work. The importance of the planning process cannot be emphasized enough. Through the planning process NRCS technical experts work with landowners to write a personalized conservation plan. Then utilizing each producer’s conservation plan as a road map, Farm Bill programs can be accessed so the ag producer can reach their conservation goals.
It is an honor to be among only 49 state conservationists and two area directors for the NRCS nationwide. To be selected as the eighth state conservationist for Louisiana indeed is special. With this honor, there is a high level of responsibility given to me by the dedicated professionals who’ve held this position before me, an honor not taken lightly. I will remain as passionate about conservation and developing partnerships with organizations and individual landowners in the private sector as when I first began.
Here’s what NRCS is seeking to do for 2020:
• Implement and deliver the 2018 Farm Bill.
• Streamline processes and program delivery, making it more user friendly.
• Provide excellent customer service and strive to understand customer needs.
• Increase internal mentoring, training and experiences that include staff, customers and partners.
• Expand focused outreach efforts to populations of young, beginning, small, veteran and historically under-served farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
• Elevate the importance of soil health through communication and outreach efforts to staff, customers and partners.
I believe in the power of partnerships and I know Louisiana has a history of strong partnerships across the conservation community, private landowner groups, such as the Louisiana Forestry Association, and with our sister USDA agencies. We will continue to grow those relationships and reach for new opportunities to expand our outreach efforts.
I was excited to attend the LFA Board of Directors meeting in January and eagerly helped with the annual LFA Arbor Day Tree Giveaway. I’m making the rounds of our own NRCS field offices to meet staff, along with SWCD staff, and I’m looking forward to meeting you, the local producers and partners across Louisiana. This will take some time, but I’m committed to getting to know and learn more about the diverse and unique people and agriculture of this beautiful state.
Simply put, I want NRCS Louisiana to be at its best. We will work as a team in the weeks and months ahead. Overall, I want our field staff to be fully trained and utilize all their skills, tools and technology available to them.
Louisiana is known for its exceptional hospitality and customer service and I want to continue that tradition. Excellent customer service is the key to who we are at NRCS Louisiana. How our customers talk about us to their friends and family is the best way to spread the word about what we do.
(Chad Kacir is state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Louisiana.)