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ARCSE / SWCS Annual Meeting Update


Cheryl Simmons

Greetings! Around 75 members and guests joined online or called in to the first virtual annual ARCSE meeting. It was an enjoyable morning spent looking at seldom-seen Hugh Hammond Bennett artifacts and hearing from our panelists. Connecting and staying connected in 2020 and the Future: ARCSE Annual MtgReplay.

        ARCSE helps members stay connected and informed on conservation problems and programs from a non-governmental point of view so that the members may be better able to assist the conservation effort

ü  Student support  –  Intern for SWCS

ü  Mentors

        Members can be Active or Affiliate and more

ü  First Active year is free

ü  $18 annual member fee

The meeting kicked off with our own Bill Ward’s Western Lights Band supporting a short video on some historic and current NRCS funded work near Santa Monica California: NRCS_Story. Earl Norton delivered the invocation. Awards, general welcomes and reports took up the first part of the meeting. Senior Conservationist John Peterson visited briefly with the group, along with SWCS Clare Lindahl, Rex Martin, and NRCS Kurt Simon and Chief Matt Lohr.

Joe Otto, SWCS Historian, then took us through an historic event with drawings, objects, and articles detailing Bennett’s adoption as a tribal member in early Soil Conservation Service-NRCS history.

Next Joe Derry, ARCSE and SWCS Intern, presented options for cooperation and joint benefits for the ARCSE future. Ideas for ARCSE includes shared membership efforts, periodic joint newsletters, and support for student conservationists. The sessions wrapped up with the traditional board meeting through Zoom video conferencing.

Over the meeting week, ARCSE representatives were able to join an online SWCS/ARCSE “hang-out” and met with Women in Natural Resources (WiN) President Kristie McKinley. We are working with WiN and SWCS to offer short-term mentor opportunities for our members. Let us know if you would like to be a resource for younger NRCS WiN members looking for short visits from an experienced retiree. It is another way to stay connected and support conservationists working in the field.

As we look to the future for ARCSE, we are in need for volunteers to serve as regional contacts on the ARCSE Board. The following States need help in staying in touch with communications from members:

Looking for States in need of an ARCSE Representative:

·       Connecticut/Rhode Island

·       Delaware/Maryland

·       Hawaii

·       Kentucky

·       Mississippi

·       Puerto Rico

·       South Dakota

·       Washington National Capital Area

·       Wyoming

Please let us know if you are serving as a State Rep. in one of these States. We apologize if this list is incorrect.

A message from Joe Otto, SWCS Historian:

“Hello ARCSE members, SWCS Historian Joe Otto here. I've asked Cheryl to communicate my request to you for help. The SWCS's archive of annual conference programs is missing several editions from the 1990s and 2000s. Did you by chance save any programs from the SWCS conferences you've attended in the past? If so, would you be willing to donate them to the master archive at SWCS headquarters? The years I am looking for are: 1965/Philadelphia, 1996/Keystone, 1997/Toronto, 1999/Biloxi, 2000/St. Louis, 2001/Myrtle Beach, 2006/Keystone, 2007/Tampa, and 2013/Reno.

If you have any of these programs and are willing to donate them to the Society, please contact Joe Otto at, or mail them to:

Soil and Water Conservation Society, c/o Joe Otto, Historian

945 SW Ankeny Rd., Ankeny, IA 50023. Thanks very much for your help! Sincerely, Joe Otto”

A message about SCAMS: Please be vigilant against scamming! ARCSE Board email addresses are on the web page, and scammers often “mask” or create similar names to scam. If you look at the details or right click the email, you can often see a strange email address. ARCSE never asks for money or gift cards to be sent directly to the board as individuals. We do accept contributions and dues through Pay Pal on the website or by mail to PO Box 8965, Moscow, ID 83843.

ARCSE Annual Meeting Update

Jack Carlson, ARCSE Secretary

Just a few more words about the ARCSE Annual Meeting and kudos to Cheryl for the great job emceeing the virtual event. Some very nice comments were posted to the chat stream from those tuning in. SWCS was kind to provide a link to the proceedings if you would like to play it with your Zoom app: ARCSE Annual Meeting proceedings.

The business meeting continued to focus on ways to build membership while financially maintaining its core responsibility to organize and publish the bi-monthly Newsletter. The new draft ARCSE/SWCS Partnership Plan outlines several “shovel-ready” opportunities for recruitment, including newly registered SWCS eligible members having option for the complimentary one-year ARCSE membership, exchange of ARCSE and SWCS promotional literature, SWCS contributions to the ARCSE Newsletter, and ARCSE contributions to “Conservogram.” The plan also includes longer-term opportunities to build interest and vitality of the organization, such as shared interns, SWCS provided media support, and a volunteer ambassador program. The draft plan will be distributed for review within the organization in the coming days, and the feedback will guide Board decisions going forward.


Meritorious Award – Dana York

Dana retired from NRCS after 34 years of service in January 2011. She started her career as a student trainee and became a full-time soil conservationist in 1977, in Tennessee, advancing in the agency working in Georgia, Ohio, and in several leadership positions in Washington DC, including NRCS Associate Chief. Following retirement, she continues to influence conservation through her consulting company, Green Earth Connection, where she continues to help various environmental groups reach their conservation goals and objectives. On top of all that, she runs her 120-acre family farm that her family has occupied since 1778. There are many other worthy accomplishments, not to mention serving as a mentor to young farmers in her area. Soon after retirement, Dana became an active member of ARCSE, serving on the board of directors for several years. She served as president during 2017 and 2018. During her tenure as president, she used her academic training in organizational design to successfully improve the organizational structure of the association, which was badly in need of change

Dana York

and modernization. By updating and modernizing several key positions on the board of directors and support staff, she led the group through the process of implementing changes in the function and processes involved in managing the society. These changes, implemented with Dana’s leadership, resulted in improved efficiency and effectiveness of board of directors and helped the organization move forward.

Dana is very deserving of the ARCSE Meritorious Award to recognize her contributions to the association.

Soon after retirement, Dana became an active member of ARCSE, serving on the board of directors for several years. She served as president during 2017 and 2018. During her tenure as president, she used her academic training in organizational design to successfully improve the organizational structure of the association, which was badly in need of change and modernization. By updating and modernizing several key positions on the board of directors and support staff, she led the group through the process of implementing changes in the function and processes involved in managing the society. These changes, implemented with Dana’s leadership, resulted in improved efficiency and effectiveness of board of directors and helped the organization move forward.

Dana also stepped up to the plate by working closely with the Tennessee chapter and helping organize local meetings and providing information to the national newsletter editor for publication. By her extra efforts with the Tennessee group, regular information articles are being published in the national newsletter to inform fellow retirees about current events, deaths of former colleagues, special awards and accomplishments, etc.

Based on the above accomplishments and actions, I think Dana is very deserving of a meritorious award to recognize her contributions to the society.

Distinguished Service Award – Norman Kempf

Since retirement in 2001 Norman Kempf has been very active in the Nebraska chapter of the ARCSE. He served as chapter vice-president and president, followed by many years up to now as the Nebraska State ARCSE Representative as well as Midwest Region ARCSE Vice-president.  As Midwest VP since 2004, Norm has communicated with State leads regularly by mail, e-mail, or phone to remind and encourage them on such things as news article write-ups, securing new retiree’s information, and new ARCSE members, nominating Senior Conservationists, reporting deaths and participation. Norman retired in 2001

Norm Kempf

after a 40-year career with NRCS. His career started in SD in 1961 where he worked as a WAE, Soil Conservationist, District Conservationist, and as an Area Conservationist in Pierre, SD. He served as Assistant Conservationist for Programs in Bismarck, ND where his duties included leadership for the implementation of the Food Security Act. In 1989 he joined the Conservation Planning Division in Washington DC as a Conservation Planning Specialist. He also served as national wetlands leader, national highly erodible lands leader, Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Conservation Planning Division. He also helped to develop and train in conservation planning on a national basis. In 1995 he was transferred to the Northern Plains Regional Office in Lincoln, NE where he rounded out his career as a resource conservationist on the over-sight and evaluation team.

Norman has been married to Sylvia nearly 57 years, and they are the proud parents of four children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren. They are active in the Lutheran church where he has served on the church council and as chairman of the property committee for many years. They are also active in many other organizations. They also pursue many hobbies including travel, which has led them to all 50 states, many foreign countries, and all seven continents.

Outstanding Community Service Award – Earl Norton

Since retiring from SCS/NRCS in 1994 Earl Norton has remained committed to conservation through engagement with organizations and activities almost too numerous to mention. He taught a conservation course at Auburn University from 1995-2001. He remained very active in SWCS and the International Erosion Control Association. He engaged early on with professional certification efforts as they got off the ground and remains an active Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Certified Professional Agronomist, and Certified Crop Advisor. He continues to serve as Erosion and Sediment Control Program Coordinator for the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee, among other things responsible for maintaining the Handbook for Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management on Construction Sites and Urban Areas. He has coordinated several sediment and erosion

Earl Norton

control seminars and field days each year, reaching and training thousands of private and agency engineering and environmental management personnel over the years and continuing to this day. Earl’s numerous awards include the Alabama Water Conservationist of the Year (2005), SWCS Fellow (2005), and Alabama Wildlife Federation Soil Conservationist of the Year (2014), and Envirocert International Distinguished Service Award (2017).

Earl also has practiced his preaching, transforming a clearcut and roadside garbage dump over 20 years into a well-managed forest certified by the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association in 2019, involving his grandchildren with soil conservation activities.

Earl graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Science (1960) and M.S. degree in Agronomy and Soils (1964) served a stint in the Navy. Since moving to Auburn in June 1976, he has been a member of Auburn United Methodist Church and Chancel Choir. Earl frequently participates in ARCSE annual meetings and emceed last year’s event in Pittsburgh.

Earl has been married to wife Julia for 53 years and has two sons and four grandchildren.


ARCSE is pleased to be the student leader development sponsor for the virtual 75th Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) International Annual Conference, July 27-29, 2020. We encourage SWCS conference registrants to “stop by” the ARCSE virtual exhibit booth, which you will be able to see on-line during the conference. 

SWCS conference attendees should also consider participating in the ARCSE annual meeting.  Note: participation in the ARCSE annual meeting is free to its members and does not require SWCS conference registration, but all registered for the conference are welcome and encouraged to join us.

For those intending to register, a reminder SWCS conference registration closes July 15, 2020. For complete conference details and to register, visit

For more information on the ARCSE Sponsorship, please contact Cheryl Simmons, ARCSE President, 


Since 1974, the Association of Retired Conservation Service Employees (ARCSE) helps members to keep in touch with each other and facilitates their continued commitment to conservation. Members represent a reservoir of institutional knowledge and expertise. The organization supports passing this resource on to future generation conservationists and identifies opportunities for members to continue taking part in activities facilitating technical sound soil and water conservation for all land uses. Its membership is organized by state chapter, coordinated by an elected organization-wide board.

About the Soil and Water Conservation Society

For seventy-five years, the Soil and Water Conservation Society has been the premier international organization for professionals who practice and advance the science and art of natural resource conservation. We believe sustainable land and water management is essential to the continued security of the earth and its people. Our goal is to cultivate an organization of informed, dynamic individuals whose contributions create a bright future for agriculture, the environment, and society. The Soil and Water Conservation Society is headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa with chapters across the United States and Canada.

Jack Carlson, ARCSE Secretary

As you may have noticed in the May SWCS Conservogram, ARCSE has sponsored Joe Derry’s internship at SWCS headquarters May-August this year. Joe’s responsibilities, among other tasks, include working with us on a plan for an enhanced partnership between ARCSE and SWCS, as well as steps to increase interest in ARCSE as an organization. Joe, from Johnston, Iowa, is a student at the University of Iowa involved in nonprofit and philanthropy studies as a major in Journalism and Mass Communication with a Certificate in Creative Writing. We’ve iterated on ideas since he started work in early May, which has led to Joe presenting a draft plan at our upcoming July 10th ARCSE board meeting. We’ll circulate the draft to membership for review and hope to have a working plan reasonably settled in early August before Joe heads back to school. Since the last newsletter, the ARCSE Board conferenced May 8th, May 15th, and June 12th, primarily to adjust preparations for conducting our annual meeting virtually. The Board used Zoom for the first time to conduct their meeting on June 12th and will do so for future meetings. Cheryl and I also conferenced with Joe Derry and Courtney Allen on May 13th to initiate progress on the partnership plan and then participated in SWCS conference sponsor and moderator training on June 18th and 24th.We’ll have a virtual sponsor booth and advertisement in the conference program, hopefully increasing visibility of the organization to prospective future members participating in the full SWCS conference.

As noted above in Cheryl’s message From the President, Segment 2 of the upcoming virtual ARCSE annual meeting, in addition to the History Tour, will discuss the ARCSE/SWCS partnership, which is part of a larger conversation of what do we want to accomplish as an organization in the coming years. We’ve gone from a peak of 1,768 members in 1998 to about 800 today. Obviously, recruitment needs attention. What percentage of new retirees know about ARCSE when they retire? How soon before they retire? Should membership eligibility be broadened to include retirees of other organizations in the conservation partnership? Should ARCSE do something new or different to strengthen its purpose, in keeping with our new “Stay Connected to Conservation” ad we’re placing in the SWCS program. Segment 2 of the Annual Meeting will provide an opportunity to respond to these and other questions, and even if you are not able to join us, we would really like to hear from you, whether directly or through your state or regional ARCSE representative. Thanks in advance for your responses!



Paul Benedict, Membership Chair

New for 2020. For your convenience ARCSE annual dues and hard copy fees can now be paid by credit card:

New Members: P. George Martin, Auburn, AL

Kathleen Woida, Des Moines, IA

New Life Member: Edward E. Marshall, Silver City, Iowa

Thank you to all who send in obituary notices for the newsletter. It is greatly appreciated. Please send them directly to me at

As you have the opportunity, please share information about our association with other retirees who are not members and with NRCS employees approaching retirement. The membership application is available online as shown below. Current NRCS employees can become associate members and convert to full voting membership when they retire.

Membership applications and the ARCSE brochure may be printed at:



Member                        $18 per year

Affiliate             $18 per year

Life (One–time payment)

            Age 64 or younger         $250

            Age 65 thru 74  $200

            Age 75 or older $125

NOTE: Dues payment includes receipt of the bimonthly electronic newsletter only. All members (both life members and those who pay annual dues) who desire a hard copy of the newsletter must pay an additional fee of $12.00 per year.

Please submit Dues to ​ARCSE​ at P.O. Box 8965 Moscow, ID 83843

Pay Dues or Newsletter Mailing Fees


National Older Worker Career Center


NOWCC began operations in 1997 as a national nonprofit organization to promote experienced workers as a valuable and critical component of the nation’s workforce. The precursor of NOWCC was a unit inside AARP that had administered the EPA Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) Program for over 15 years. As the result of a strategic restructuring in 1996, AARP decided to conclude its connection with the SEE Program. Because of its commitment to the value of older workers, AARP facilitated the launch of a new non-profit, NOWCC, to continue administering its portion of the SEE Program and to continue to promote experienced worker programs.

Currently, NOWCC administers the Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services (ACES) Program for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the USDA and for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) Program for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in partnership with the AARP Foundation for the U.S. Department of Labor, and recently began working with Economic Research Service (ERS) to provide enrollees who are experienced workers 55 years and older to assist with providing the USDA, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and National Park Service (NPS).

Tim Forbert is the ACES Recruiter/Program Specialist (email:


These are just a few of the pictures from the current edition of the ARCSE Newsletter available to Members of the Association. 


The Alabama group as a long article featuring Rev. Cliff Jones in this newsletter. Cliff Jones retired from NRCS in December 1996 and became the full-time minister/pastor of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Opelika.

 A person wearing a suit and tie

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Rev. Cliff Jones, NRCS retiree and Pastor of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church since December 1966.

A large brick building with grass in front of a house

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Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church

Part of the 48 affordable houses developed by the Greater Peace Community Development Corporation.

SWCS presentations included a report from Joe Derry, an SWCS intern hired by ARCSE to help with cooperative work between SWCS and ARCSE; and Joe Otto, SWCS Historian. The presentations by SWCS Historian Joe Otto of never-seen-before Hugh Hammond Bennett artifacts was particularly interesting. In particular, his story about the presentation of a "War Bonnet" gift made from Golden Eagle feathers from a Native American tribe to our agency's Chief in Hardin Montana in 1947 deserves to be shared in more detail here.

A group of people posing for a photo

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Big Horn SCD “War Bonnet” Gift to Hugh Bennett, 1947

The occasion for presentation of this gift was a speaking event for the Chief, with the title "Soil Conservation Can't Stand Still" to an audience of some 5,000 people. To think about a Native American Tribe presenting such a gift to honor a white American man, our agency's first Chief, is really remarkable and says something special about our Chief and our agency's work. Later, after a follow-up communication from me to Joe, he sent me the following two “news photos” covering the event that day.

A vintage photo of a group of people standing in front of a crowd

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Big Horn SCD “War Bonnet” Gift to Hugh Bennett, 1947

At the conclusion of this Session 1, I came away with a good feeling about the future funding for our agency, as well as the partnership ARCSE and SWCS have established and continue to strengthen. All ARCSE members were invited to dial in and observe this Session 1 Virtual Meeting, and a good number did.

Our Session 2 virtual working group consisted primarily of ARCSE Board members taking care of the annual meeting business, reviewing and approving budgets, reports, meeting minutes, etc. Those taking part are shown below:

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Session 2 Virtual Participants for ARCSE annual board meeting. Upper Row: Jack Carlson, Secretary; Bill Ward, West Region VP; Jerry Bernard, Editor; Chery Simmons, President. Middle Row: Melvin Womack, East Region VP; Arnold King, Future President; Joe Derry, ARCSE Intern; Bill Kuenstler, South Region VP. Bottom Row: Dana York, Past President; David Buland Webmaster; Becky Fletcher, Midwest Region VP; Donna Beggs, Treasurer.

California Retirees’ Second Zoom Gathering. California enjoyed our 2nd “first Wednesday of the month” Zoom gathering that has replaced our monthly lunch gatherings we used to have in Davis, prior to the corona virus shut down. We had a group of eight NRCS retirees connect via Zoom August 5th. It was enjoyable for all of us to see each other and share what was new. The group who participated are shown below.

A group of people posing for a photo

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Colorado Golf outing, and meeting presentations on wind erosion.

In the last newsletter we posted a map of Colorado showing wind erosion prone areas. The following two maps show water and wind erosion prone cultivated land areas for the continental U.S. They are part of a project to develop new water and wind erodibility computational methods for environmental benefits indices (EBI) for program ranking purposes. The maps were created by running the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) and Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) models for a continuously tilled-fallow management on each soil mapunit polygon intersecting cultivated land. More than 17 million mapunit polygons were simulated with WEPP and WEPS, using data services for 10m DEM average slope calculations, inputs from the NRCS Soil Data Mart, and 4km PRISM adjusted climate input to the models. With testing and quality control, the effort involved more than 50 million model runs and ~8 years of computing time, with scaling condensed to a month.

A close up of a map

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Tilled-Fallow Water Erosion Map (Erosion rates from 0-200+ tons/acre/year)

Tilled-Fallow Wind Erosion Map (Erosion rates from 0-200+ tons/acre/year)

From Minnesota, the hop harvest is under way on John Brach's Stone Hill Farm. He grows for local craft breweries and is also a trial grower for the USDA and University of Minnesota hop breeding programs.  John spent four years perfecting his picking machine to eliminate most of the labor. He says the Friends and Family picking program only works the first year.


A truck that is sitting on top of a grass covered field

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John Brach’s hop harvest

TO CONTACT US: write or email
Association of Retired Conservation Service Employees (ARCSE)
PO Box 8965, Moscow, ID 83843
Email: arcse.treas@gmail

Officers:  President of ARSCE is Cheryl Simmons.
Jack Carlson as Secretary, Paul Benedict as Membership Chair and Donna Beggs as Treasurer.

To contact the webmaster for corrections, email:

Updated Sunday, August 30, 2020