Fall is here, and the Holiday season is just around the corner. We have a lot to be thankful for, and conservation of our natural resources is something we can all be proud of helping to achieve. The Association of Retired Conservation Service Employees (ARCSE) was organized to help keep retired NRCS employees informed and in touch with other retirees. Many of our NRCS employees developed close working relationships with folks working with conservation districts, Universities, and other agencies. Consequently, ARCSE has opened membership to retirees from other organizations involved with natural resource conservation. We have had only limited success with doing that, but we are confident that some of the conservation district employees might be interested in ARCSE membership, if they are made aware of our organization. So, please help spread the word and make them aware that their first year of membership is complimentary.
Present and future USDA programs will apparently focus heavily on climate issues and how agriculture producers can modify their farming practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and provide other benefits to the environment. Land used to produce field crops, livestock forage, and forestry products will be included in programs. During our summer board meeting, Chief Cosby commented on those issues and his efforts to recruit employees to get the work done. We were all very pleased to hear that Chief Cosby wants to work with retirees and that he sees a big need and opportunity for retirees to help mentor and train new employees. Please take a few minutes and view the NRCS Hiring Video at https://youtu.be/FpD3vOU_j2o.
The 48th annual meeting of ARCSE and the traditional luncheon were held at Denver, Colorado on August 1st. Everyone, especially Willeene and I, thoroughly enjoyed the entire event. The closer relationship between ARCSE and SWCS is paying big dividends, and we hope to continue that effort. Several examples of synergism are notable. SWCS provided complimentary booth space in the commercial exhibit area, and both organizations shared information in newsletters and meeting notices that had mutual benefits. SWCS provided complimentary registrations and VIP reception invitations to three ARCSE members, and we shared our summer intern’s time to help them with a special event during the SWCS meeting.
Our luncheon was held at John Elway’s Steakhouse in the Ritz-Carlton hotel near the Hilton. Business luncheons are becoming very expensive at convention hotels, and we are asking a lot for the locals to come and participate in our luncheon event. The Hilton price was much more than the Ritz-Carlton, and that is why we chose that location. But the meal was great, and everyone was pleased with the venue we chose. Chief Terry Cosby attended and made a presentation covering National issues on the horizon. Climate change is now the hot topic in USDA programs. The State Conservationist, Clint Evans, planned to attend but had a family medical issue to attend to and asked Karen Woodrich to represent him on the program. Karen did a great job and brought along Becky Ross to provide some interesting information on conservation in Colorado. Their tag-team approach was enjoyed by everyone.
We also had the SWCS board chair, Dale Threatt-Taylor and the SWCS CEO, Clare Lindahl in attendance, and they both made excellent presentations to the group. And we were happy to have Rich Duesterhaus representing NACD at our luncheon.
We have been concerned about losing Doug and Patty Lawrence as our editors for the “Notes From the Potomac” section of the newsletter. But we are happy to report that Craig Derickson has volunteered to take on that responsibility. Many thanks to Craig from the entire Board.
The next annual meeting of SWCS and ARCSE is scheduled for Des Moines, Iowa, and we will soon be making plans for that meeting. In summary, I want to thank the entire Board for their generous help in making the Denver event a success.
June, 2022, The ARCSE Board of Directors has been meeting monthly via Zoom to firm up plans for our annual board meeting in Denver, Colorado. As tradition dictates, we are meeting concurrently with the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), as they conduct their more elaborate annual membership meeting/convention. We are beginning to form a closer working relationship with SWCS. Both organizations agree that we have similar goals and objectives that can be accomplished more efficiently by working together. For instance, SWCS has given us a valuable booth location in the commercial exhibits area, where we can advertise, inform, and solicit new members. Conversely, our bi-monthly newsletter can be useful to SWCS when they have membership information/announcements to share via that outlet. So, we are looking for ways to work together and disseminate information through both organizations.
We have discovered that many newly retired employees do not even know our association (ARCSE) exists. Because of legislation like the privacy of information act, agency staff are reluctant to publicize lists of employees planning to retire. If and when we somehow break through that barrier, we can make retirees more aware of ARCSE, and membership should grow.
We are excited about the luncheon planned on Monday, August 1st. at the John Elway Steakhouse located in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, about three blocks from the headquarters Hilton City Center Hotel in downtown Denver. We are pleased to let you know that both State Conservationist, Clint Evans, and NRCS Chief, Terry Cosby, will attend the luncheon and make presentations to the group. So, please plan to head toward Denver for a vacation and opportunity to meet with us for a great meal, program, and social event. Click on the hotlink below to bring up the registration form. Please fill it out and send it in ASAP, if you plan to attend.
It seems we are out of the pandemic stage of COVID and firmly into the endemic phase. Medical facilities are still requiring masks, and I suppose that is a good thing. And some of us older folks are being extra careful.
ARCSE is doing fairly well financially, but we need more members to keep our head above water. About half of our members are Life members who obviously aren’t required to pay annual dues. That works out fine as long as we are signing up members. I attended the Texas Retiree reunion at New Braunfels on April 5th and 6th. Attendance continues to drop because of deaths and health problems. So, again, we need to sign up new retirees. During the meeting, I encouraged several to sign up for the 1st year complimentary membership. I was able to get eight applications filled out, and hopefully they will become permanent members. Based on that experience, we probably have a lot of potential ARCSE members who faithfully attend their local meeting but have never been adequately encouraged to sign up as members. Julie McSwain, our President-Elect, informed me that a few of her friends told her they didn’t know a retiree organization existed. So, we need to find ways to inform folks about ARCSE who are planning to retire in the near future. And I encourage local leaders to take blank applications to their local meetings and be sure they know about our complimentary first year membership.
Bob Halstead sent me a newspaper article written by an urban SWCD board member who is rightfully concerned about a newly passed Florida bill requiring district board members to be active farmers. Her concern is that many urban districts may not have eligible candidates for the local boards, and some of the SWCDs could be in jeopardy. Urban areas do, in fact, have serious soil and water issues that can be addressed by urban districts and programs. Hopefully, that situation will be worked out and will not spread to other states.
Our plans for the annual meeting at Denver on August 1st are shaping up nicely, but we need to have good representation from local members and folks planning vacations to Colorado who might make plans to also attend our luncheon. The luncheon will be at John Elway’s Steakhouse in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel near the SWCD headquarters hotel in downtown Denver. Please plan to come.
The pandemic is slowly evolving into an endemic state due to advancements such as herd immunity, vaccinations, antivirals, and therapeutic technologies. The situation isn’t quite stable, but at least in my part of the world almost all of the deaths are among those having underlying conditions. Consequently, we are full steam ahead on planning our annual luncheon and ARCSE board meeting at Denver. Details concerning the meeting will be forthcoming. We have tentative commitments from both STC Clinton Evans and Chief Cosby to address the group during the luncheon. We hope some of you will join us for the luncheon as you enjoy a great vacation in Colorado.
Chief Cosby recently endorsed the mentoring program in various stages in several states.
Evangelist David Jeremiah recently said, “When you are young you work for what you are paid to do; when you are old you should work at what life trained you to do.” Consider that opportunity if you are afforded the opportunity to mentor young employees involved in natural resources conservation.
A very important part of our bi-monthly newsletter is the “Notes From the Potomac” written by Doug and Patty Lawrence. On behalf of the board, I want to give a special thanks to them for all the work they do in preparing this splendid report. It is very special and something we probably take for granted. It greatly enhances the newsletter we all enjoy.
And finally, our great supporter, John Peterson, was inducted into the NACD Hall of Distinction. This is the highest honor for SWCD representatives. Quite an achievement and appropriate recognition for his tremendous contributions to Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The new ARCSE Site that was set-up by our Intern Jordyn Rodriguez is now reaching over 200 people. Your support of our Facebook site is greatly appreciated. If you happen to have any content that you think might be a nice addition for ARCSE please reach out to Julie MacSwain. Content tips can be provided in a few ways. Send a message to Julie on Facebook or via email email@example.com.
Arnold King, January 2022
We are now almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. The origin of the virus remains a mystery, but the effects are real and will probably continue into the future. The good news is we are learning to live with the problem and keep people as safe as possible with vaccines and therapeutic medicine.
Supermarket prices jumped 0.8% in November, pushing the inflation rate for food costs to 6.4% over the past year, the largest increase for a 12-month period since 2008. That’s bad, but at least we are getting a decent cost of living raise this year. Those who live on a set income are going to really suffer if inflation isn’t brought under control.
We are planning a real person to person annual meeting and board meeting on August 1st at Denver. We hope some of you are planning to come and participate. Denver is a great location for the meeting and a convenient time to stretch it into a great vacation. Details will be provided in the near future. Plans for the SWCS annual meeting, which meets concurrently with ARCSE, are available on the SWCS website. The normal plan for our meeting is to have a luncheon and an awards ceremony on Monday. Following that, we have a formal business meeting of the board of directors. One important item on the agenda will be a discussion of future board meetings. For the past two years we have had Zoom meetings with fairly good results. Should we begin having Zoom business meetings or continue having in-person meetings as we have had historically? If you have thoughts or feelings about that, please let us know. After all, we do try to represent your wishes while we serve on the board.
A few weeks ago, I got a call from Roland Willis. I hadn’t talked to him in 25 years. He complimented our organization for our attempts to make ARCSE more appealing to younger employees and retirees. It was a wonderful call that I will always remember, because just a few days later, we received notice that he had passed away. It is very sad, but he’s now in God’s Kingdom along with several others who have passed away this year. I know we all enjoy remembering the good times we had working with our associates. And that is what makes our ARCSE such a great and worthwhile organization worthy of our support.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And finally, we have a dedicated board and support staff, and I want to thank them for their efforts to keep ARCSE sustainable.
by Julie McSwain, ARCSE President-Elect
In the summer of 2021, Jordyn Rodriguez, SWCS/ARCSE Intern, developed a Flickr site for ARCSE that can be used for uploading, organizing, and sharing digital media such as photos and videos.
Flickr is a platform for conveniently sharing photos and videos. It’s used by many photography professionals to send images to clients, as well as anyone with photo-sharing needs.
It’s free to make an account on Flickr, which encourages even the most casual users to sign up. And for those who are more serious about storing pictures, there is a Pro feature available for purchase.
In addition to uploading photos, users can peruse the platform to check out other people’s work and can “like” or comment on anything that piques their interest. Let’s learn more about some Flickr features.
1. Profile – Just like you can have a profile on Facebook, you can have a profile on Flickr. This dashboard is a place for both you and others to view and keep track of your media on Flickr.
2. Galleries – Think of galleries as you would “photo albums” on Facebook. A key difference between Facebook albums and Flickr’s galleries is that you can add other users’ media to your gallery. You can only have 50 photos or videos in a gallery, so think about what you want to share in the gallery.
3. Photostream – This is a collection of media that belongs solely to you. If your photos and videos have been set to “public,” then other users can come to your profile and see what you’ve uploaded. If your media is set to “private,” then only you and those you have permitted will be able to view your content.
4. Albums – One great feature of Flickr is the ability to organize photos through albums. This feature is also a great organization tool for the user, as it helps ensure that the media isn’t appearing in random places.
5. Faves – When you use Flickr, it’s possible you’ll come across an image you really want to save for later. When you “star” or favorite a photo on Flickr, it automatically appears in the “Faves” tab on your profile.
The best way to get familiar with Flicker is to sign-up for a free account and play around with the various features. Even if you don’t take pictures and want to see what ARCSE has available on Flickr, simply click on this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/193466003@N08.
To learn more about what Flickr has to offer, I recommend jumping on the site and creating a free profile for yourself. Playing around with various features is always the best way to learn more about a platform.
If you have any photos to share from a recent Zoom or face-to-face meeting for ARCSE and want your photos shared on our ARCSE Flickr site, please email Julie MacSwain at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please reach out if you have any questions. Thank you!