CREP Conservation Plan Writers Achieving Level 2 Certification

Jerry Starkey
Bullit Farris

Several of OCC’s Water Quality staff have achieved or are in process for certification as Level 2 Conservation Plan Writers. The certification program is offered and certified by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Bullit Farris, Jerry Starkey, Tashina Kirk, Trampas Tripp, Marti Mefford and Jill Ashbrenner have completed certification including the pesticide and nutrient management qualifications. Gina Levesque has completed most of the requirements and are close to receiving certification also. Farris, Starkey and Tripp write conservation plans for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program as will Levesque upon certification; Mefford, Kirk and Ashbrenner are coordinators working in other water quality programs.

Trampas Tripp
Tashina Kirk

NRCS established the program to certify district conservationist, soil conservationist, range conservationist, G7-level conservation technicians and others with conservation planning as a duty in their job descriptions. In addition, nutrient management and pest management are required for the district conservationist, soil conservationist range management specialists, grazing land specialists, tribal resource conservationists, and biologists who have conservation planning as a primary duty in their position description.

Gina Levesque
Jill Ashbrenner

Levels 1 and 2 are each self-paced course to be completed over the span of a year. For Level 1, Part I (online) must be completed in the first six months of the 12-month period; Parts II and III (field application) must be completed in the last six months of the 12-month period. Parts II and III are provided by either a state-offered course or by state specialists and/or resource specialists through on-the-job field training sessions.

For Level 2, applicants develop three or more conservation plans meeting the Resource Management System (RMS) level of criteria on a Conservation Management Unit (CMU) reviewed and approved within 12 months of Level 1 certification. Reviews are conducted by a Level 3 certified conservation planner. The Level 3 reviewer must directly observe the individual seeking certification and the client in either the planning phase or at plan delivery on at least one of these plans.

This is a great accomplishment for OCC employees, who had not previously been employed and trained by NRCS, to achieve this level of certification as conservation plan writers,” said Gina Levesque, OCC/WQ CREP coordinator. “It is especially valuable in light of the increasing workload for conservation and natural resource management while the NRCS work force continues to be on the decrease.”