“Conservation @Home: Building Community Resiliency” workshop to be held at the OACD State Meeting

Too often we think one word can only be linked to one subject.

Take for example, conservation. There are those who immediately view it as a rural-only topic, focusing on medium to large farming and ranching operations.

“Conservation is for everyone,” said Sarah Blaney, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD).

That is precisely why “Conservation @Home: Building Community Resiliency” is the first workshop of the OACD State Meeting to be dedicated solely to the small, urban and suburban producer and homeowner.

“Our goal is to provide a workshop with something for everyone who is passionate about the environment,” Blaney said. “Whether that is adding native pollinator habitat to your yard or learning how to reduce what goes into landfills by starting your own composting project.”

The “Conservation @Home” workshop will be held Feb. 25 during the three-day 2020 OACD State Meeting at the Edmond Convention Center, 2833 Conference Drive in Edmond. Topics covered throughout the day will include Composting as a Soil Health Tool, Interconnections between Soil & Water, Science over Politics, Conservation Landscaping, Native Oklahoma Pollinators and How to Make Money with Urban Farming.

 Mark King, an Organics Management Specialist, will present on the topic of “Compost as a Soil Health Tool.” King is originally from Winthrop, Maine and has been with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MEDEP) since 1991. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of Maine and a Master’s degree in zoology from Southern Illinois University. Currently, he works as an Environmental Specialist in the Department’s Sustainability Division, where he serves as the Department’s compost contact. Additionally, he serves as the Department’s representative on the Maine Compost Team and helped develop the internationally renowned Maine Compost School where he serves as a faculty member and director.

He provides on-going technical assistance to new and existing commercial and agricultural compost facilities through compost facility design, operations assistance and compost process trouble-shooting, and is currently working on a project to promote statewide composting of pre and post-consumer food residuals as an alternative to costly landfill and incineration disposal.

Malarie Gotcher, the Water Conservation Manager for the City of Oklahoma City Utilities Department, will speak about “Interconnectedness between soil and water conservation.” Gotcher received a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and a Master’s Degree in Plant and Soil Sciences from Oklahoma State University. Gotcher and her team work with community members, businesses, and City departments to increase water conservation awareness and assist with implementation of best management practices. During her time with the Water Conservation Section, her team has been selected for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s Water for 2060 Excellence Award and Oklahoma City Beautiful’s Visionary Award.

The luncheon speaker, Brad Carl, an External Affairs and Climate Specialist with The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, will speak on “Science over Politics.” An Emmy-award winner, over the past eight years he worked as a certified broadcast meteorologist and reporter covering severe storms, devastating flooding, extreme weather, and climate issues in Montana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. He also led an award-wining sustainability team that reduced the Cox Media Group Tulsa (FOX23 / KRMG) location’s garbage by more than 60 percent in less than two years.

Attendees can also hear Ray Moranz, Xerces Society/Natural Resources Conservation Service Grazing Lands Pollinator Ecologist, speak about “Creating Habitat for Pollinators in your Yard or on your Acreage.” The Xerces Society is an international non-profit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Moranz also serves as a Partner Biologist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and is based at the NRCS Field Office in Stillwater. His current focus is assisting the NRCS with planning and implementation of pollinator (and especially monarch butterfly) conservation efforts in the central United States. Moranz began studying the effects of fire and grazing on plant and butterfly communities in 2004, and earned his Ph.D. in Natural Resource Ecology and Management from Oklahoma State University in 2010.

“Conservation Landscaping” will be presented by Mark Bays and Connie Scothorn.

Bays is the Oklahoma Forestry Services Community Forestry Coordinator. He has worked in traditional forestry in Colorado and California and was self-employed in Oklahoma and Texas as a consultant in urban and community forestry, arboriculture and tree care. He has been with Oklahoma Forestry Services for the past 28 years where he has been helping individuals and city leaders across the state understand and appreciate the value, benefits and services trees in communities provide. He helps Oklahoma improve environmental conditions throughout the state through education of proper tree selection, planting and maintenance programs. Bays favorite quote is, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Scothorn, American Society of Landscape Architects, (ASLA) and Principal of CLS & Associates, Landscape Architecture, is an Author of the book Oklahoma Native Plants–A Guide to Designing Landscapes to Attract Birds & Butterflies.

Registration is only $100 ($50 student rate) for the one-day Urban/Suburban Track on Feb. 25, and that includes continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

 To register online, please go to . 

 The overall OACD State Meeting runs Feb. 23-25. There are also several opportunities for sponsors. For questions regarding registration or sponsorship, please contact Kayla Anderson, (405) 819-4593,, or Sarah Blaney, (517)763-8609,