Tom Salzer has been appointed as the new Pacific Region representative on the National Conservation District Employees Association board of directors.
Tom has worked with conservation districts since 1992, managing district operations and providing statewide help on governance, technology, and accountability issues. He has been a board director of a state association of conservation districts and the president of a statewide employee’s association.
Tom is the General Manager of Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District.
First, I accepted the assignment
It was with some misgivings that I accepted the call to represent the Pacific Region on the National Conservation District Employees Association (NCDEA) board.
Carolyn Kelly, who recently retired from her long tenure as manager of the Skagit Conservation District in Washington State, served long and well as the Pacific Region representative. The idea of following Carolyn was a daunting proposition.
The other person under consideration was Vicki Carter, Executive Director of the Spokane Conservation District in Washington. I have known and worked with Vicki since my conservation career began 25 years ago, so I immediately called her. We had a delightful and direct conversation.
Vicki would be a tremendous choice to serve as Pacific Region rep but she is also handling some very large projects at the moment. She decided that she could commit to serving as the alternate representative to NCDEA. A big thank you to Vicki! (Alternates are important. They provides resiliency and continuity to NCDEA’s ongoing efforts to build capacity.)
Second, I contacted two well-organized states
Oregon and Washington have well established employee associations that are also functioning at a very high level. I contacted the presidents of the Oregon Conservation Education and Assistance Network (OCEAN) and Washington Association of District Employees (WADE) to determine if they had any objection to me representing their states. It was heartening to hear their support.
Third, I learned all I could about NCDEA
I visited the NCDEA website to glean what I could from the information posted there. I exchanged emails with Tim Riley (President of NCDEA) and Rich Duesterhaus (Executive Director of NCDEA).
It didn’t take long before I realized how deeply embedded NCDEA is in the policy and procedural discussions that occur with key partners at the national level, including:
- NACD – National Association of Conservation Districts
- NASCA – National Association of State Conservation Agencies
- NARCDC – National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils
- NRCS – Natural Resources Conservation Service
Prior to this, I had no idea that substantial conservation district employee knowledge and perspectives were part of the decision making with these partners!
Fourth, I researched the Pacific Region
The Pacific Region includes these states and territories:
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Republic of Palau
This is a widely distributed group of states and territories with a wide range of capacities to deliver conservation at the local level.
Establishing a strong communication network throughout such a diverse region is the part that concerned me the most. Without good communication to and from the states and territories in the region, there would be no way I could effectively represent their needs to NCDEA.
Finally, I accepted the assignment
After pondering the communication issue, I decided to accept the Pacific Region spot with Vicki as a tremendous alternate representative.
My first goal is to create a good network so that we can move information between Pacific Region conservation districts and NCDEA. That is the primary reason for this Pacific Region website: to help provide an information hub for conservation district employees in the Pacific Region.