South Dakota Grassland Coalition

By Angela Ehlers

Like almost every other workforce, the resource conservation field has more jobs than available workers and workers move jobs often. If you’ve visited your conservation field office since it re-opened to the public, it’s likely you are meeting new folks every few months. It’s great to have new faces but it also poses some challenges. One major challenge is knowing who your partners are.

Angela Ehlers, Executive Director of the SD Association of Conservation Districts.

The SD Association of Conservation Districts recognized the challenge so invited staff of conservation partners to “get to know each other” round tables at their spring area meetings. Each partner organization was requested to share their answers to three questions: a) what is your organization’s mission or purpose; b) how does your organization contribute to the conservation movement; and c) what could others do to support your organization’s mission? They were also challenged to use as few acronyms as possible – not an easy task if you deal with government programs! Participating in the seven round tables were South Dakota’s conservation districts and representatives of SD Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources; USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service; USDI-Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife; SD Department of Game, Fish, & Parks; Pheasants Forever; Ducks Unlimited; SD Soil Health Coalition; SD Grassland Coalition; and water development districts.

I was impressed by the level of conversation that occurred during the round tables. During our previous area meetings, our audience has been more subdued and not interactive. This year, folks asked questions, offered opinions, and even stayed after meeting conclusion to follow up conversations with specific individuals.

We too often talk about partners in the abstract but now we’ve met each other and know more about each other. That should lead to better communication and service to our mutual clients – the people who are interested in applying conservation practices.

Angela Ehlers serves as the Executive Director of the SD Association of Conservation Districts.

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