Location: Poteau, Okla.
District Program Coordinator: Lisa Grey
History: The dustbowl brought about the creation of what is now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with field offices typically organized by county across the nation. Under Roosevelt’s presidency, the first conservation act was passed with Oklahoma at the center of the creation. Oklahoma established Conservation Districts with the Conservation Act in April 1937. “In spite of the fact that I was raised on a cow calf ranch, my pathway to working at the Leflore County Conservation District is not exactly traditional,” District Program Coordinator Lisa Gray said. “I began my career path by working in an electrical firm a number of years before I found an opening in the Leflore Conservation District. I have worked here for 18 years so far and plan to remain.”
Services: “My position combines both my love of agriculture and my love of accounting in that part of my responsibilities is the light bookkeeping and payroll required for our district. I am also involved in education and assisting individual farmers. Fourteen years ago we developed a program now in two different schools that involves students in hands on data collection for ongoing state water quality statistics. Individual farmers and ranchers are helped with a variety of issues including soil erosion, water quality and forage quality using a conservation plan developed to use best management practices such as rotational grazing, ponds, cross fences, stream crossings and heavy use areas. We also help with cost share programs offered from federal and state governments to help implement the best management practices. A design with a geotextile netting like product covered by gravel is used for both heavy use areas and stream crossings to help prevent erosion and gravel from sinking. Sometimes we refer these ranchers and farmers to other agencies such as the OSU Extension office for soil testing or the Department of Mines to help with sinkholes and newly discovered abandoned mines so prevalent in our area.”
Philosophy: “Our mission is to help improve the lives of the citizens in Leflore County through educational outreach and technical assistance in order to preserve natural resources. Even though the state budget is pretty rough right now, the Blue Thumb water quality education initiative, heavily staffed by volunteers, seeks to educate the public about how water pollution comes from sources they don’t even recognize. Further, the younger agriculturally centered generation is more ‘green’ and environmentally aware than previously and helps others understand the impact everything has on the environment. Everything that goes on affects someone.”