As I sit here in front of my computer, my fingers hovering over the keys impatiently waiting for my brain to come up with a topic to write about, I started to reflect upon all that has happened in the past year.
This year has been especially difficult for many of the soil and water conservation districts throughout the state, and our office was no exception. With significant cuts in both our local and state funding, it has been a constant struggle to keep the office functioning as it should.
We have witnessed many changes this year, some have been for the good but unfortunately, most have not. As I think back on these changes, I have come to realize what a great organization this is and how fortunate I am to work with this great group of professionals.
These are people who don’t know the meaning of the word defeat and who will, when knocked down, pick themselves up by their boot straps and trudge on.
District employees are some of the best people to work with. We have a vast pool of skilled and experienced employees who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with others throughout the state. It doesn’t matter that we are, for the most part, complete strangers; it only matters that we all have a common passion — conservation.
Time and time again, district employees from around the state have stepped in to help another district with a problem or concern. If a problem arises that they are not sure how to solve, a quick e-mail will produce countless solutions in a matter of minutes.
These devoted people are innovative in their thinking and problem solving while keeping our natural resources foremost in their minds. Conserving and improving natural resources are the main concern at all soil and water districts; unfortunately this economic crisis put a strain on these efforts. Very few districts throughout the state were immune to the economic and financial problems of our local, state and federal government.
However, we don’t dwell on what we can’t do; we work on how to do more with less. Districts manage to overcome and conquer these problems in a down-to-earth and sensible manner, much like we do with conservation concerns.
I know that our office, as well as just about every office in our area, has had to cut back on staff, office space and hours just to keep afloat; however one thing our offices will not sacrifice is our service to the county residents. We will strive to provide the same quality service and programs as we have in the past.
District employees do not accomplish this single-handedly; we are proud of the great leadership in our board of supervisors. These dedicated men and women serve without pay for the benefit of the county and its residents. They donate their time and talents to promote soil conservation and improve the quality of our water.
Board members have had to make some tough decisions this year in many of our counties; decisions that not only affect the district offices but the lives of the employees themselves. These decisions, while unavoidable in most cases, are necessary nonetheless and were not made without careful thought and consideration.
Conservation is a way of life for us and hopefully these financial difficulties are just a stumbling block that we have to contend with occasionally. So even though there may be fewer of us in less hours and smaller spaces, rest assured that our commitment to conservation will not falter.
With a new year beginning we are optimistic that better days lie ahead and look forward to another rewarding year in the world of soil and water conservation. As we ring in 2011, let me, on behalf of all the soil and water conservation employees and supervisors, wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.
(Jodi Cespedes is an administrative assistant at Stark Soil and Water Conservation District. She has worked at Stark SWCD for eight years.)