What does NACD do for you?

Four buckets of services

The four main buckets of services NACD provides to its members and partners are (1) advocacy, (2) communications and education, (3) direct services to districts, and (4) leadership development.

1. Advocacy

NACD advocates for the interests of this nation’s 3,000 local conservation districts and state associations on Capitol Hill year-round. We testify before Congress, submit letters and comments on proposed rules and legislation, and regularly meet with lawmakers and their staff to advance beneficial policy related to voluntary conservation.

NACD’s government affairs team also engages our membership each spring during NACD’s annual fly-in. The event serves as an opportunity for conservation districts to advocate for policies that benefit them directly (see “direct services” below) and educate decision-makers on the ins and outs of district work.

2. Communications and Education

NACD produces and disseminates four regular publications for our members and partners to keep them informed and engaged.

  • eResource is an electronic collection of news briefs delivered every Tuesday. eResource’s articles are straight to the point and give readers just what they’re after – the facts. It routinely includes updates on recent happenings in Washington, D.C.; relevant NACD, state association, and district news; and other need-to-know information, like deadlines for funding opportunities.
  • The Resource is a quarterly print and electronic publication that provides in-depth coverage of the association’s recent activities. The Resource also features columns from NACD’s CEO, president, and closest partners, as well as district and Soil Health Champion spotlights to highlight the great work of our members.
  • Forestry Notes is an electronic monthly publication that highlights forestry issues and district-led forestry projects of particular importance to our members.
  • Conservation Clip List is a weekly round-up of the latest conservation news affecting our members and partners. Clip List is sent to subscribers electronically every Friday morning.

NACD also coordinates internal communications at the national level between districts, states, regions, and federal partners, like the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Our external communications, such as press releases, blog posts, interviews with media, and our website make up another core facet of NACD’s strategy to educate the public about voluntary conservation.

3. Direct services to districts

NACD hosts a national directory for all the conservation districts and state associations across the U.S. and its territories. This directory creates an interface for NACD members, conservation partners, and the public to communicate.

NACD produces technical reports and guides for districts to utilize on a regular basis. These resources cover a wide range of topics, including official training strategies for districts, best practices for wildfire restoration efforts, and ways for districts to led or participate in ecosystem markets.

NACD runs a number of programs that provide education, resources, and networking opportunities for our district members. To name just a few, NACD hosts:

  • Webinars – On a monthly basis, NACD hosts webinars on urban and suburban conservation topics, and also, in partnership with the Joint Forestry Team, webinars on forestry-related issues.
  • The Soil Health Champions Network – The SHC is a vast network of over 150 soil health leaders committed to advancing the adoption of soil conservation practices nationwide. The network is a space for soil champions to exchange best management practices, tell success stories, and learn how to make improvements in their own operations.
  • Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative – This program is one of many ways NACD is advancing conservation in developed or developing areas. In 2016, this initiative helped increase technical assistance capacity for urban agriculture conservation projects. Awardees are generally announced at the NACD Summer Conservation Forum and Tour.
  • Conservation Planning Boot Camp – Through an agreement with NRCS, NACD is now coordinating district employee participation in the agency’s Conservation Planning Boot Camp. Boot Camp is a three-week, intensive training course that covers current conservation planning policy, procedures, and guidelines.
  • NACD Pacific Region – This page contains information specific to the Pacific Region, such as: events, leadership, strategic plan, and more.

NACD also creates templates for districts and state associations to utilize in their promotional, advocacy, and education efforts. Generally, these templates are released in conjunction with official NACD documents throughout the year. They include template press releases, comments on federal regulations, letters to Congress, public service announcements, graphics, and other customizable resources. You’ll find these templates in the Grassroots section of NACD’s website and in our Newsroom under Media.

For decades, NACD has also offered its members stewardship and education materials free of charge or at extremely affordable prices. The 2017 stewardship materials include an educator’s guide, activity booklets for four age groups, a church leader’s guide, media materials, and more. In addition to these materials, NACD annually promotes Stewardship Week – one of the world’s largest conservation-related observances – and hosts national photo and poster contests.

4. Leadership development

NACD develops conservation leaders through stand-alone training programs (see “Conservation Planning Boot Camp” above) and annual meetings held in the winter, spring, and summer. At these meetings, NACD offers facilitated networking, educational breakouts, and skill-building seminars – all of which serve to reenergize and build capacity across this nation’s conservation community.

NACD’s leadership structure also cultivates skills in problem-solving and collaborative planning. NACD’s committees and its resource policy groups, for instance, offer members opportunities to guide NACD policy and lead NACD initiatives. NACD’s officers, who are elected by their peers,

NACD’s efforts to recognize extraordinary leadership in conservation reinforce the value of district work among our membership and the broader public.

  • Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) – Encourages conservation district folks setting up for the next generation.
  • Hall of Distinction – NACD created the Hall of Distinction to recognize and honor our organization’s current and past leaders. District officials – past and present – featured in NACD’s Hall of Distinction have made major contributions to our nation’s Conservation Movement.
  • RSET trailblazers program – Through the RSET (Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool) Trailblazers program, forward-thinking producers who have developed and implemented RSET-derived conservation plans receive official letters of recognition signed by their local district board chair and NRCS district conservationist.
  • NACD awards – NACD’s Annual Awards Program recognizes individuals and organizations for their outstanding work and leadership in soil and water conservation. They include: NACD Friend of Conservation Award; NACD Distinguished Service Award; NACD President’s Award; and Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award.

Helpful NACD information and resources

Source: WACD National Director Doug Rushton, who produced this handout: NACD benefits – Rushton – 20210929