Thursday, June 12, 2008

Conservation Agent Training Class for the Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation is accepting applications to fill up to a 20 member class for Conservation Agent trainees. The class is scheduled to begin March 1, 2009.

The online announcement is available on the Department of Conservation Web site.

I've had the opportunity to speak to the last two training classes of Conservation Agents and they have asked some thought-provoking questions. It's also the only group I speak to, outside of college classes, that are verbally tested over the information immediately after it is presented.

I've always thought the job description is much like that of a super hero. The job announcement lists education and physical fitness requirements, then, a long list of competencies and abilities.

Some of the abilities include:

"keep focused on understanding, anticipating and responding to the needs of customers;"

"take a long-term view of the Department’s or Unit’s direction and articulate a vision which integrates key program goals, priorities, values and other factors;"

"analyze data and apply relevant wildlife, fisheries and forest management principles to the solution of problems;"

"express oneself clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing;"

"establish and maintain an effective working relationship with elected officials, members of the press, educators, community leaders, courts, representatives from related agencies and the general public;"

"make independent decisions and act quickly and decisively on the determined course of action;"

and "create public awareness of and involvement in fish, forest and wildlife programs and to provide leadership to the public in this activity."

There are more items in the list. Conservation Agents are important members of the conservation "team" in Missouri.

A short video is on YouTube about the job of a Conservation Agent:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Working to Produce Conservation Information that is Useful

As part of my job for the Missouri Department of Conservation, I gather and interpret a wide variety of information and work to make that information useful for conservation decisions. Sometimes it takes many hours and much effort to make that information useful.

Like today. I'm working to take many facts about the Department of Conservation and put that information into a short video introducing the Department.

My day today actually started yesterday, when I packed a van with props and materials to assist a film crew. My role is to make sure the content and facts we want to communicate are correctly presented in the sound and images of the video. Most of this has already been completed, since we have been working on the script and thinking about the images over the last several months.

For today, I started the day before 7:00 a.m., driving to the Kansas City Discovery Center. The video's producer, John Baker from St. Louis, and the film crew, Tom Newcomb, a videographer from Technisonic and Tim Donsbach, a freelance sound specialist, were already at the location scouting the right spots to film. We filmed what we needed in two places in the Center, after waiting until noon to get just the right combination of staff and student activity in the hallway.

Then we drove to Holts Summit in the afternoon to get images of the volunteer Holts Summit Fire Protection District station and their equipment. The Department of Conservation helps over 600 fire departments with training and access to equipment to control and contain wildfires.

Then we just made it to the Runge Nature Center at 5:00 p.m. to get some images of a hunter buying a hunting permit. The Nature Center staff stayed a little later than normal so we could get the filming finished. It was very nice that they extended their day to help us.

Then we went outside the center, and set up at two more locations to get the evening light around two separate speaking parts of the video.

After the filming with people was completed outside, about 8:00 p.m., the videographer set up to film the fire tower to have some background images of the tower which will help illustrate the historic role of fire protection in improving the forest of Missouri.

Finally, we briefly discussed the schedule for the filming tomorrow, which will be similar but a slightly shorter day and mostly inside images.

I left the Nature Center and picked up more props to load into the van, finishing that task by 9:30 p.m. I'm ready for supper after over 14 hours of work. Not an unusual day, but not a typical day. I think it's going to be a great video and useful for the staff of the Department. That makes it worth the extra effort.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Census of Agriculture Still Accepting Responses

The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years and "is the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation."

A news release from the United States Department of Agriculture indicates that over two million forms have already been received and they are still accepting responses.

This current effort is the first Census of Agriculture where producers and farmers could respond using an online form.

Data collection for the current effort, the 2007 Census, began December 28th, 2007. Results are expected to be available beginning in February 2009.

I use this information frequently, to understand the economic impacts of both farm production and conservation activities in Missouri.

Previous information from the 2002 Census of Agriculture is available in a wide variety of reports and formats.