Local leadership benefits SWCDs

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead

 

Margaret Mead’s words come to mind this fall as we prepare for our annual meeting and banquet in October. We have a longtime board member retiring and, while we understand his decision, we will miss his dedication and involvement in our program.

 

As we work to find nominees for this position, we are honored by the people who accepted our request and understand the decisions of those who declined.

 

Our nominating committee believes it is important to have viable candidates on the ballot so no matter who is elected, our tradition of a strong board will continue.

 

All 88 soil and water conservation districts are directed by five local supervisors. These supervisors are the key to the success of the district.

 

The very credibility and success of a district is based upon this local leadership. How well these individuals carry out their responsibilities is reflected in the accomplishments of the district.

 

Board supervisors serve a three-year term without pay, volunteering their time. Supervisors meet monthly to conduct official business of the local soil and water conservation district and manage all funds, facilities and equipment.

 

They develop policies and set program goals for the SWCD and hire staff to implement these programs and policies.

 

The election of SWCD supervisors is in accordance with Chapter 1515.01-14 of the Ohio Revised Code. Our elections are conducted by the Ohio Soil and Water Commission and follow strict guidelines.

 

Board members are public officials and must follow the same rules and guidelines as those elected during the general election.

 

As mentioned a few weeks ago in this column, SWCDs will fall under the direction of the Ohio Department of Agriculture at the beginning of 2016. While this change is concerning; we have confidence in the leadership of SWCD supervisors at the local and state level to protect our interests.

 

The strong tradition of locally led conservation programs benefits all our communities. Supervisors know their communities well and are always willing to listen to ideas to make our programs better, whether those ideas come from staff members or landowners.

 

This is their home too, and they care about what happens here.

 

In closing, thank you to every person who has ever served as a supervisor for a local soil and water conservation district. Your time, talents, and leadership are an inspiration to those of us that work with you.

 

I have learned how government should work during board meetings where issues are discussed (sometimes heatedly), but at the end of the meeting everyone supports the decision made and moves on. If only we could get our representatives in Washington to follow this example.

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Raised on a grain farm in Morrow County, Deb Bigelow is the program administrator for the Coshocton Soil and Water Conservation District. She can be reached at debbigelow@coshoctoncounty.net.

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