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SOIL CONSERVATION: In a year of changes, NRCS still focused on soil and water quality

By Susan Kozak, Director, Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality

Wow – a lot can change in a year!

At this time last year, I was the “acting” director for Soil Conservation and Water Quality and very torn on the decision of what my future should look like. Now, I have jumped in with both feet to the position permanently and love the challenges it brings every day.

SOIL CONSERVATION: In a year of changes, NRCS still focused on soil and water qualityIn the past year, I have had the opportunity to travel to many great events to discuss our conservation efforts, but I believe my favorite events are the small, local meetings. I love sitting at a table with people from each district to hear the legislative priorities for Lee County, enjoy the 75th anniversary celebration in Cherokee County, participate in a discussion at an Iowa Learning Farms farmer listening circle or answer questions at the Taylor County Fair.

This has also been quite a year of change – it seems like all areas of conservation in the state are shifting and growing. I was able to attend many meetings across the state regarding the Natural Resources Conservation Service reorganization.

This has given our field offices an opportunity to have a District Conservationist in every local office again and IDALS will have a dedicated Conservation Assistant in the offices. NRCS is not the only entity going through change.

After I accepted the director position, it caused a chain reaction of staff moves in our Des Moines office. Hopefully, the end is in sight and we have been able to place the right people in the right positions to keep the momentum moving forward on our nutrient reduction strategy goals.

And those goals are big. We need to see a major shift in the pace and scale of conservation practices across the landscape. It will take all conservation professionals, public and private, working together as a close team to create the needed changes.

All of our field days and local meetings are perfect chances to engage with others in our communities and talk about our goals and mission for conservation. We are all working toward the same goals to improve our soil health and water quality.

It is important to build new connections in our conservation community to help spread our efforts to every corner of Iowa. I want to thank all our staff and partners for their hard work and the willing landowners that make conservation a priority.

Make sure to stop in your local field office to see how you can get involved and make a new conservation connection.

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