Natural Resource Conservation Professional Development Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $96,400.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G374-21-W8617
Grant Recipient: Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Principal Investigator:
Deborrah Smith
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, wildlife, Landscape Level Planning for Conservation Action
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, community services, food hubs, leadership development, new business opportunities, partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    Arizona Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) will hold 16 professional development workshops over two years. Conservation District Supervisors will be trained to become more effective leaders in locally-led conservation efforts; workshops will also be used to expand the knowledge base of Supervisors and other invited agricultural professionals about natural resource conservation management best practices (“best practices”). Best practices are scientifically based, developed, and accepted by experts in the field (e.g., NRCS, Coop. Extension, range/farm scientists). Workshops will provide effective leadership training and increase the skills/knowledge Supervisors and other agricultural professionals need to educate farmers and ranchers (“producers”) about the practices and technical and financial support programs available to them, through which emphasizes sustainable agriculture and natural resource conservation.

    Supervisors are agricultural professionals – they’re business owners, farmers, ranchers, foresters – and through professional development workshops, they will become proficient in their knowledge of best practices and become better trainers themselves. Workshops/Training materials will enable Supervisors to become effective leaders and trainers when educating producers about best practices and executing the statutory responsibilities of state Conservation Districts.   

    AACD has gathered project cooperators that will bring their expertise on topics like pesticide safety, soil health and water conservation practices, grazing management, and other best practices well-suited to Arizona, complementing the materials AACD will develop for effective leadership training.

    These workshops also present a unique knowledge sharing opportunity for project cooperators. Anyone who attends the workshops, whether Supervisors, agency representatives, or other agriculture professionals, will benefit from hearing from experts in the field, all of whom are working to address the same goal: sustainable agriculture and conservation of natural resources. This is also an opportunity for other groups to hear from Supervisors and be trained in what Conservation Districts are and how they are a key asset when it comes to locally-led conservation.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objective is to provide leadership training to District Supervisors so that they may become more effective educators and trainers to producers, as well as increase the knowledge base, skills, and technical capacity of District Supervisors and other agricultural professionals in best practices suitable to Arizona and, more specifically, to each Supervisor’s specific District, so that they may in turn educate local producers and land owners/managers. In addition to best practices, District Supervisors will become proficient in the types of technical and financial assistance programs available to producers so that when advising them around best practices, Supervisors can also effectively guide producers towards which programs may be best for them to find support.

    This project will bring together many agricultural professionals and experts who can learn from one another and benefit from this way of knowledge sharing. Through knowledge sharing we will see a ripple effect of more effective trainers training their people. This project also creates an opportunity to educate other agricultural professionals about Arizona’s Conservation Districts, how the Districts are able to work across all land use types and foster cooperation between producers and others, and how important Districts are in locally-led conservation and getting practices on the ground to support sustainable agriculture. This will result in improved locally-led conservation efforts across the state.

    AACD will extend invitations to all agriculture professionals in Arizona to attend these professional development workshops including, but not limited to:

    • USDA - NRCS
    • UA Coop Extension
    • AZ Farm Bureau
    • Agribusiness Water Council
    • AZ Game and Fish
    • US Fish and Wildlife
    • USDA - Forest Service
    • USDI - Bureau of Land Management
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.