Cosby appointed to lead NRCS

Terry Cosby
Ohio's state conservationist, Terry Cosby, speaking about water quality concerns at the OFU Convention, in 2016.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced May 19 that Terry Cosby, acting chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and state conservationist for Ohio, will serve as chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Cosby started his USDA career in 1979, as a student trainee, in Iowa. Before serving as Ohio state conservationist, he served as an area resource conservationist in Iowa, an assistant state conservationist for field operations in Missouri and a deputy state conservationist in Idaho. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, Brenda, and their four children.

Cosby was raised on a cotton farm, which his great-grandfather purchased in the late 1800s, in Tallahatchie, Mississippi. He earned his bachelor of science degree in agriculture education from Alcorn State University, which was the first Black land grant college established in the U.S.

The National Association of Conservation Districts applauded the decision in a May 19 statement. The group noted that under Cosby’s leadership, Ohio was the first state to use Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds for forestry programs.

“Terry is no stranger to natural resource management, and his decades-long experience as a conservationist and business team leader has proven his commitment to protecting natural resources and building sustainable conservation solutions,” said association president Michael Crowder. “I am confident that Terry will continue leading NRCS in the right direction in partnership with NACD and the nation’s 3,000 locally-led conservation districts.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, referenced Cosby’s more than 40 years of work with the USDA in a May 19 statement.

“I’ve worked with Terry for many years on conservation priorities in Ohio and know that no one is more qualified for this role,” Brown said.

The USDA also announced that Meryl Harrell will serve as the deputy under secretary for natural resources and environment. Harrell most recently served as the executive director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards.

Both Cosby and Harrell will begin their positions May 24.

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