In 2019, TSPN set an organizational goal to develop a model for TSP training with an emphasis on conservation planning and TSP certification/recertification. We met that goal on November 12th-15th, 2019, thanks to an amazing partnership with Tennessee NRCS, who awarded TSPN with a significant financial agreement to sponsor a four-day training conference, which included a special TSP Coordinator workshop and a new TSP training certification session. The conference was held on November 12 - 15, 2019 in Murfreesboro, TN. Ninety-seven TSP State Coordinators, NRCS staff and Partners, and potential and certified TSP’s attended the event. The overall purpose of the conference was to provide training to TSPs, NRCS employees, and TSP Coordinators regarding roles and responsibility in TSP certification, CAP planning, planning tools, and to provide much-needed networking opportunities. But our primary objective was to provide training that would improve the consistency of conservation plan writing by TSPs. With that in mind, we chose a conference theme of Efficiency, Consistency, and Productivity in Conservation Planning.
The outpouring of support for this conference was evident by the geographical representation of our attendees. Thirty-three states and territories were represented from as far away as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, California, and Vermont. It was a great networking opportunity for TSP’s and TSP Coordinators, which they fully embraced to share experiences and plan future partnering opportunities. Putting a face with a name is huge in any business, but especially in this business where personal relationships are critical to developing and building a successful conservation-based enterprise.
The support that TSPN received from NRCS Deputy Chief Jimmy Bramblett, and Sheldon Hightower, TN NRCS State Conservationist, were pivotal to the success of the conference. They both provided encouragement and support to NRCS staff who attended the event and were inspirational as keynote speakers who highlighted the importance of partnerships in getting more conservation on the ground. NRCS staff members Stacy Koch, Lindsay Haines, Pat Turman, Jeff Porter, Tibor Horvath, and Mike Sampson provided outstanding support as keynote speakers and instructors. Workshop instructors representing NRCS were Christopher Nelson, Adam Dougherty, Renee Hancock, and Robert Gray.
TSP instructors/hosts also participating with their technical skills included: Jason Olmstead, Ben Myers, Angela Warden, Cindy Logsdon, Matt Klobachar, Dennis Godar, Jeff Koops, Julie Falcon.
All of the trainers approached the conference as an opportunity to highlight the need for consistent, high quality, and common plans written for our farm clients. The sample plan workbook was a first of its kind for a training conference and included CAP 104, CAP 106, and CAP 138 sample plans. Our intent in providing sample plans to the participants was to provide planner with a uniform methodology for completing the first 4 steps of the 9-step NRCS planning process. TSPN has long held the view that uniformity in plan formatting would lead to faster and more efficient NRCS Administrative plan reviews. I would be remiss to not mention the outstanding support TSPN received from Judy Martinson, Iowa NRCS Partnerships team, and Danny Jones, Tennessee TSP Coordinator, in developing the agenda and curriculum, as well as facilitating the conference. Judy and I previously worked together on highly successful TSP Conservation Planning training programs and other workshops from 2009 - 2016 in Iowa. She is outstanding at curriculum development and facilitation and kept us all moving forward. Danny Jones was pivotal in his experience at quality control in plan writing, as well his personal experiences working with TSP’s. TSPN is profoundly grateful to NRCS for providing us with their assistance.
This conference held many new challenges for me. It required a new approach in curriculum development and securing of needed service due to both the scope of the project and the distance of the training location from my home base of Iowa. However, the outcome was well worth the effort. The event got outstanding reviews from the participants, and we have been approached by other States who are interested in having TSPN provide similar events in their regions. I will be following up on those opportunities and will keep the TSPN membership updated on my progress.
What TSPN Conference Attendees are Saying
Great conference !! It was very informative and set up well for interaction/discussion with others which was very valuable. I followed the 104 tract if additional tract certificates are provided. Look forward to attending another conference if held in the future. Thanks! Dan Prevost, TSP - Leland, MS