INside NRCS August 25, 2014

Lisa Buckner, District Conservationist, Waconia, MN Field Office showcases how to set up a laser level with Project Sweetie Pie students.

INside NRCS Employee e-Newsletter

August 25, 2014

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Above: Lisa Buckner, District Conservationist, Waconia, Minn. Field Office shows students how to set up a laser level as part of an educational event. Photo: Julie MacSwain.

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Sec. Vilsack and NRCS Soil Science Division Honor Soil Judgers

Soil reception

This week, Secretary Vilsack and the NRCS Soil Science Division honored the winning students and coaches from the inaugural International Soil Judging Contest hosted in Jeju, Korea, in June. 

Two teams from the U.S. participated in the competition and earned the first and second highest team scores. 

NRCS celebrated the success of the U.S. teams by inviting the eight students and two coaches to travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with Secretary Vilsack, tour headquarters and attend a reception honoring their achievements. 

People's Garden Expands to Puerto Rico

People's Garden expands to Puerto Rico

People’s Gardens have expanded to all 50 states, three U.S. territories – including Puerto Rico – and eight foreign countries.

Read how Puerto Rico’s First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez’s garden was the first People’s Garden at a Puerto Rico state government facility, and the third on the island, here.

Freedom Riders Exhibit

Freedom Fighters

On May 4, 1961, thirteen courageous Americans from different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds engaged in the first Freedom Rides. 

These Freedom Riders made history as they faced intense hostility and hatred with love and nonviolence.

USDA will continue its yearlong commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by hosting a traveling Freedom Riders exhibit on the Patio of the Whitten Building from Aug. 20 through Sept. 17.

If you are outside the Washington Metropolitan Area, you can view the online version. 

Summer 2014 Internships Come to a Close

NRCS interns had an opportunity to work in a variety of fields, including data analysis, accounting and staffing this summer.

Read about their experiences on USDA's blog here.


International Year of Soils Coming Soon

International Year of the Soils

NRCS will soon unveil an outreach plan to help states celebrate the International Year of Soils in 2015. 

The 2015 NRCS/Soil Science Society of America Soils Planner, which highlights soils around the world, will be available by the end of Nov.

Stay tuned for more exciting developments and check out  

Sammy Soil Educates America on Soil Conservation for 40-plus Years

Sammy Soil

Sammy Soil started as a water color drawing by Ernest “Howard” Whitaker, who was a NRCS district conservationist in Tennessee, and remains one of NRCS’ most fun and effective teaching tools. 

NRCS also offers a Sammy Soil coloring book, available free through the NRCS distribution center. 

Celebrate back to school with the coloring book and other NRCS educational resources.

Read Sammy Soil's story on the USDA blog here.

Personnel Announcements

Dave Brown

Legislative Affairs welcomes the new Acting Director, David Brown. 

David is the State Conservationist in Utah, a position he has held for three years. In his 30-plus year career with NRCS, he's served as Acting State Conservationist in Pennsylvania, Assistant State Conservation-Programs in Washington and various area office and field office level positions in Idaho and Washington.  

David can be reached at 202-720-5484. 

David Smith

David W. Smith was selected and appointed to Deputy Chief for Soil Science and Resource Assessment (SSRA) effective July 13. The SSRA Deputy area consists of: 4 Divisions including International Programs, Resource Assessment, Resource Inventory and Soil Science; 3 Centers including the National Geospatial Center, National Soil Survey Center and National Water and Climate Center; and 3 Remote Sensing Labs (Fort Worth, Greensboro and Portland). Dave’s most recent previous service was as a Soil Science Division Director. He has also served as the Soil Survey Regional Director, an Oversight and Evaluation Team member and a State Soil Scientist with NRCS.”

Update on Customer Service Toolkit

In case you missed it, check out the Chief’s all-employee email update on the Customer Service Toolkit, Version 7 here

Ethics Update: Letters of Recommendation

Question: A former USDA co-worker asked me to write him a letter of recommendation for a new non-Federal job.  Can I use my title and official stationery?

Question: A non-Federal partner organization has asked me, in my official capacity, to write a letter of support to include in its grant application package.  NRCS plans to work with this group if they are awarded the grant.  Can I use my official title and stationery?

To view the rules and answers click here.

If you have questions, contact Erin Kobiela Auger at (202) 205-1826. Additional information is on the Office of Ethics website.

eDirectives Updates

National Bulletins

National Instructions

Be in the Know With USDA Connect

Want to know what's going on inside NRCS? Check out the latest State Conservation call notes on USDA Connect.