Senior Chronicles

We salute our Senior Conservationists for building and maintaining a very strong agency.   Your years have been many, and we hope there are many more healthy and happy ones in your future.

Current Senior Conservationists

Deceased Senior Conservationists

The following Senior Conservationists were highlighted in the ARCSE Newsletters. 

Senior Conservationist James F. Brassfield was born July 10, 1931, at Gadsden, TN. Gadsden is a town in Crockett County and lies about 20 miles NW of Jackson, TN. James was raised on his family’s farm and attended community schools. Following high school, he served in the U.S. Navy from Nov. 27, 1950, until his honorable discharge on August 26, 1954 as Yeoman 2nd Class Petty Officer YN2. James had enrolled in the University of Tennessee – Martin but later transferred to the main campus in Knoxville under the GI bill. He graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy.

James began his career with SCS as a student trainee at Shelbyville, Bedford County, TN. The following summers found him as a trainee in Pulaski, Giles County, and back in Shelbyville. When he graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville he was assigned to the Williamson County, TN office. James applied for a fellowship to Iowa State University and was accepted as a graduate student. He took courses during the regular terms and spent two summers mapping glacial and loessal soils, first in Bremer County and then in Cass County with the SCS Survey Party in each. Upon successful completion of his Master of Science, “Soil Genesis and Classification” in 1961, James returned to Tennessee. He was assigned to Robertson County, but had been there for only three months, when he was assigned to Warren County where he later was leader of the Soil Survey Party. Following completion of that survey, he was assigned to lead the soil survey in DeKalb County, TN. During this survey, James was asked to join the World Soil Geography Unit in Hyattsville, MD. After security clearance, he transferred to the Unit on Dec., 1965. He worked there for 3 1/2 years. In July 1969, James was assigned to SCS Florida operations as Assistant State Soil Scientist. He held this position until 1977, when he was transferred to the South National Technical Center, Ft. Worth, TX. While working there he was promoted to a GS-13 Soils Correlator. James worked there until his retirement on Jan. 1, 1987.

After retirement, James and his wife Helen, moved to Humphreys County, TN. They built their home on a farm that James had bought in the early 1960s. From 1987 to 2010, James worked his beef cattle operation. Sadly, Helen passed away in 2005. They had been married 43 years. In 2011, James married LeAnn McCrary Hollis. James has two stepdaughters, three stepsons, four step-grandchildren, and five step-great grandchildren. In addition to family activities, he reports that he enjoys hiking and being in nature as well as investing in the stock market.

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Senior Conservationist, Leland Hardy

Upon my 1995 retirement, Elwin Ross (WNTC Irrigation Engineer) and I formed H & R Engineering to provide on-farm and ranch engineering. In the beginning we worked more than full time. We added Bruce Wilson (Oregon SCS/NRCS Agricultural Engineer) when he retired in 2007. Elwin retired the second time in 2009, and I think 2023 will be my year to do the same. When projects needed, H & R Engineering hired retired SCS/NRCS Geologists and Agronomist plus a Soil Scientist.

In June, Pat and I moved into Capital Manor, a Retirement Community in west Salem, OR. Our new address is 1955 Salem Dallas Hwy. NW, Apt. 922, Salem, OR 97304.

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Senior Conservationist Tom Wehri was born April 6, 1939 in Kalida Ohio. Tom was the oldest of 10 children and was raised on his family’s general purpose dairy farm. Tom grew up thinking he was going to be a farmer.

Military service for Tom and the economic conditions of the 1950s were such that working off his family’s farm became a necessity. After high school a county agent connected Tom with SCS, and he started work with SCS as a WAE (GS-2) Technician.

The opportunity to attend college with help from the GI Bill made it possible to move from his technician position to various leadership positions with SCS/NRCS. Tom’s educational background includes a BS in Civil Engineering from Ohio State University in 1972 and a Master’s in Public Administration degree from the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 1982.

Tom recognizes he has many people in SCS/NRCS to thank for their support and encouragement along his career journey. In Tom’s own words speaking about out agency, “We are a great family.”

For Tom his most satisfying positions were his initial Technician Position and his position as a State Conservationist (Arkansas). In Tom’s own words again, “When in the field you see conservation installed on the ground. As a State Conservationist, you can work with strong local personnel and partners again to install conservation practices. To see conservation work get done made me feel proud.” Tom spent considerable time working in Washington, DC in various positions helping to manage our agency’s National Watershed and EWP Programs. Tom also worked as a Program leader and Planner in Watershed Development in Idaho and California.

Over the past 20 years Tom has been working closely with local Conservation Districts. He served as the Executive Director for a group of 100 Resource Conservation Districts for 8 years and is a Past President. He works especially close with his local Placer County RCD which has grown from a two-person staff to 17 now. Tom clearly understands the value of the NRCS/RCD partnership in getting conservation on the ground.

Tom and his wife Naomi of 61 years currently live in Roseville CA. They have 2 sons, 1 daughter, 4 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. Tom enjoys golf, senior hiking, traveling, and photography of landscapes and natural resources.

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My name is Robert (Bob) Slayback, retiree from the Soil Conservation Service in 1994. I was born in Los Angeles on November 21, 1935. My educational experience began at Oregon State, then transferring to U.C. Davis with a degree in Range Management in 1960. I was married to Jane Slayback until 1995. Jane and I had 3 sons. I currently live with my present wife, Norma. Together, we have 15 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Norma and I reside in Lodi, California.

My varied work experience began as a grocery clerk at age 15. While in Oregon, I was employed by the Coos Forest Patrol and also spent many years as a milker at the family dairy farm. I was enrolled in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957.

My career with the Soil Conservation Service began in Lakeport, CA as a soil conservationist from 1960 to 1962. I held the same position at the Pleasanton Plant Material Center from 1962 to 1966. From 1966 to 1972, I was the manager of the Plant Material Center in Tucson, AR. From Tucson, our family moved to Syracuse, NY where I was a plant material specialist from 1972-1974. I was then transferred to Lockeford, CA. Plant Material Center with the same position from 1974-1980. My final employment was in Davis, California. I retired early in 1994 to be with my wife, Jane, who had terminal ovarian cancer.

In 1983, I was certified as a Professional Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Specialist, and I was president of the Soil and Water Conservation Society in 1985. I authored numerous articles and presentations at various conferences.

In my earlier years, I sang in the Berkeley Chorus and SPEBQSIA (barbershop quartets). Since retirement, I have enjoyed participating in the Lodi Rotary Club, serving as president in 2010–2011. I have also been participating in the Master Gardener’s Club as a certified Master Gardener. I have been privileged to serve as an Elder at my local church.”  – Bob Slayback

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Senior Conservationist James F. Brasfield was born July 10, 1931, at Gadsden, TN.  Gadsden is a town in Crockett County and lies about 20 miles northwest of Jackson. James was raised on his family’s farm and attended community schools. Following high school, he served in the U.S. Navy from November 27, 1950, until his Honorable Discharge on August 26, 1954 as Yeoman 2nd Class Petty Officer YN2. James had enrolled in the University of Tennessee-Martin but later transferred to the main campus in Knoxville under the GI Bill. He graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy.

James began his career with SCS as a student trainee At Shelbyville, Bedford County, TN. The following summers found him as a trainee in Pulaski, Giles County, and back in Shelbyville. When he graduated from University of Tennessee at Knoxville he was assigned to the Williamson County, TN, office. James applied for and was accepted as a graduate student at Iowa State University. He took courses during the regular terms and spent two summers mapping loessal soils first in Bremer County and then in Cass County with the SCS Survey Party in each. Upon successful completion of his Master of Science degree (Soil Genesis and Classification) in 1961, James returned to Tennessee. He was assigned to Robertson County, but had been there for only three months when he was reassigned to Warren County where he was Leader of the Survey Party. Following completion of that survey, he was assigned to lead the soil survey of DeKalb County, TN. As this survey was completed, James was approached to apply for a fellowship from Iowa State University to work in the World Soil Geography Unit. He spent eight weeks in this highly specialized unit. James was then assigned to SCS Florida operations as Assistant State Soil Scientist. He held this position from 1969 until 1977 when he was promoted to GS-13 Soil Correlator at the South National Technical Center, Fort Worth, TX. James worked there until he retired January 1, 1987.

After retirement, James and his wife, Helen, moved to Tennessee. They built a home on a farm that James had bought in the early 1960s. From 1987 to 2010, James worked his beef cattle operation. Sadly, Helen passed away in 2005. They had been married since 1962. In 2011, James married Lela A. McCray Hollis. James has two stepdaughters, three stepsons, four step-grandchildren, and five step-greatgrandchildren. In addition to family activities, he reports that he enjoys hiking and being in nature as well as investing in the stock market.

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James Abbott was born in 1924 on a farm in the Bradshaw community near Abilene, Texas as one of seven children. James has three brothers and three sisters. One of his brothers, Everett, was a long-time SCS/NRCS employee.

James graduated from Bradshaw High School in 1942 and joined the Marines soon after graduation. James was placed in a parachute battery where he served in 1942 and 1943. After James’ military duty he attended Texas Technological College (Texas Tech University) where he graduated with a BS degree in 1947and a MS degree in Soil Science 1948.

Following graduation, James started to work for the USDA Soil Conservation Service (SCS). The SCS sent James to four different universities for more training. James worked as a soil scientist in Lamesa, Texas and Littlefield, Texas prior to becoming the Area Conservationist at Lubbock, Texas.

On December 23, 1945, James married Euna Hart in Lubbock, Texas. James lost Euna November 15, 2015. James and Euna were blessed to have three daughters born to their marriage.

In 1961 James was promoted to Assistant State Conservationist stationed at the state office in Temple, Texas. James served in several positions in the SCS/NRCS Texas State Office until he retired in 1994.

James started playing golf when he was about forty years old and was a very good golfer. James has not played golf recently. Jim will be 98 years old in October, and It may be time to retire his golf clubs.

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Our May, 2022 Senior Conservationist, Rich Duesterhaus was born March 28, 1939, at Quincy, IL, the oldest of nine children. Rich’s family had a small truck farm. The farm raised tomatoes, sweet corn, and a variety of other vegetables, which were sold to local grocers or on the wholesale market. He attended local schools and after high school attended the University of Illinois where he earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics (Farm Management) in 1960. During his university years, he worked as a Student Trainee with SCS. Rich served as an officer in the U.S. Army with active duty from 1961-62 (18 months). He served in the Army Reserves and National Guard until 1970.
He began his full-time SCS career as a Soil Conservationist after graduation. In all, between 1959 and 1970 in Illinois, Rich served as Student Trainee in two locations, Soil Conservationist in three locations, Work Unit District Conservationist in two locations, Resource Conservationist for eight Districts, and Acting Area Conservationist. From 1970 to 1973, Rich held the position of Assistant State Conservationist for Operations at Syracuse. During this period, he earned the Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts (1970) and the Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University (1971). In 1973 he was selected State Conservationist for Maine. He held that position until 1975, when he began his career at SCS National Headquarters.
Between 1975 and 1997 when he retired, Rich held the following senior leadership positions with SCS/NRCS and USDA: Assistant to the Administrator for Environmental Development, Assistant Administrator for Planning & Evaluation, Assistant Chief for the Northeast, Assistant Chief for the Midwest, Deputy Chief for Science and Technology, a one-year assignment to the Office of the USDA Secretary as Coordinator for Land, Air, Water, and Solid Waste; six month assignment as Deputy Assistant Secretary; and a shorter detail to the Office of Management and Budget.
Rich has continued to be vitally involved in conservation matters following retirement. His work after retiring included serving as a contractor on projects for SWCS, Partners in Parks, and the National Association of Conservation Districts. Over the last 20-plus years he has been employed by the National Association of Conservation Districts serving in a number of positions, including Director of Government Affairs, Northeast Regional Representative, Director of Projects and Partnerships, and Senior Advisor. He currently holds the latter position. For the past 14 years he served on a part-time basis as the Executive Director of the National Conservation District Employees Association (NCDEA). He ended that position in February of 2022.
Rich and Judie Krapausky married in 1961and were married over 44 years before she passed in 2006. He married Jude Mollenhauer in 2011. Rich has six sons and two daughters, 21 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Family activities are a very important part of his life.
In addition to family activities, Rich has been and remains active in church and community life. Rich is an Eagle Scout and has over 50 years of service as a BSA volunteer leader. He has also been a Girl Scouts of America volunteer leader. He has served on and chaired his Church Parish Council. He has served on the Board and as Vice-President and President of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. He was a founding board member and Chair for 18 years for the Shepherds Center of Northern Virginia (a non-profit organization that provides services and programs for older community citizens). Rich still serves on this Board. And, he has served as Board Member, Vice President, and President of the Association of Retired SCS Employees (now ARCSE).

Our March 2022 Senior Conservationist Paul H. Calverley was born August 27, 1938, in the Los Angeles, California, area near the San Gabriel Mountains. His family owned a lemon grove there. Paul graduated from Camarillo High School and attended the University of California at Davis. During his college years he had summer employment with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Paul married Harriet in 1960. He graduated in 1961 with a B.S. degree in Range Management.

Paul’s first job with SCS was in Canyon City, OR, as range conservationist. He was promoted in grade while there. His next position was as District Conservationist (DC) at Baker, OR. Following Baker, Paul was transferred to Fossil, OR, as a GS-11 DC. From Fossil he went to Le Grand, OR, as DC. Paul was promoted to Area Conservationist (AC) at Grants Pass, OR, then to Albany, OR, as AC. Paul then was promoted to Assistant State Conservationist for Operations at Reno, NV. From Reno Paul moved to Davis, CA, as Deputy State Conservationist. Paul was later promoted to State Conservationist for Idaho. Paul was selected to participate in the Legislative Fellowship Program. He was assigned to the office of then Oklahoma U.S. Senator David Boren. Paul completed his 34-year conservation career in 1994.

Paul and Harriet remained in Boise following his retirement. They have a row-crop farm in Idaho and a timber/pasture operation in Oregon. Paul has been a Supervisor on the Ada County (ID) Soil and Water Conservation District Board for many years. He served as its chairperson for eight years. Paul is proud of the Ada District’s accomplishments. There is an active urban conservation program as well as a range and cropland program component. The District has an active pollinator program, too.

Paul and Harriet have two sons and five granddaughters. They are active in their church and enjoy spending time in their wooded acreage in Oregon. Paul said that he feels truly blessed. He observed that he has noticed that when things in life aren’t going well it has been important for him to look beyond the difficulty – to have faith.

Our January 2022 Senior Conservationist is Senior Conservationist James H. (“Jim”) Canterberry was born September 28, 1937, in Forest Hill, WV. Forest Hill is about 40 miles southeast of Beckley, WV. Jim grew up on his family’s farm which raised cattle and sheep. He attended local schools and graduated from Forest Hill High School then enrolled in West Virginia University. Jim graduated with a BS degree in Animal Husbandry in 1959. During his university years he worked three summers as a Student Trainee.

Upon graduation in June of 1959 he accepted an entry-level position as Soil Conservationist at Princeton, WV. Jim decided to volunteer for military service rather than face the uncertainty of when he would be drafted.  He entered the U, S. Army in September 1959; after basic and advanced training he was sent to Germany where he served as an administrative section chief in the 24th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged at Fort Hamilton, NY, in September 1961. Jim then returned to Princeton, WV, where he was Soil Conservationist. In March 1962 he was promoted to soil Conservationist (GS-7) at Parkersburg, WV. Two years later he was promoted to District Conservationist at Huntington. In 1967 Jim accepted promotion to District Conservationist at Charleston where over the course of his three years there he was promoted in-place to GS-12. In 1971, he accepted the job of Area Conservationist at Edenton, NC. In 1975 he was brought into the SCS State Office in Raleigh as State Resource Conservationist. He served SCS in Raleigh from 1975 until he retired. During this period there were several reorganizations of the office during which Jim served as Assistant State Conservationist for Programs and Assistant State Conservationist for Technology. With the arrival of a new State Conservationist in 1995 Jim was asked where he felt he could best serve. Jim was reassigned the role of State Resource Conservationist and it is from that position that he retired in 1997. During his career, Jim received several outstanding ratings. He was also selected as a Fellow of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Jim has been very active during his retirement. From 1997 until 2018 he was an instructor of persons seeking certification in wastewater management through North Carolina State University. He has been very active through NC Baptist Men and their disaster relief activities. Jim has worked on water assessment in Togo, Africa, farm assessments in Honduras following Hurricane Mitch, and housing construction in El Salvador. He has made seven trips to the Gulfport area of Mississippi following hurricanes.

Jim and his wife Rebecca were married in 1963. They have a daughter and a son and six grandchildren. Jim has written A History of Roles Chapel Baptist Church; this is his home church in Forest Hills. He has also researched history and family genealogy. From this has come two histories – one of family involvement during the Civil War and the other the actions of Forest Hill citizens during the Civil War. Jim and Rebecca enjoy spending time on the family farm in West Virginia. Jim says that life is too short to have a job you do not like, and that putting conservation on the land was and is a very satisfying life.