Fun Country RC&D 101


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Educational component to explain the program and the process for RC&D Councils

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Fun Country RC&D 101

  1. 1. Fun Country Resource Conservation & Development ‘RC&D 101’ - Member EducationInside Page What Is RC&D? 2 What Are The Benefits Of RC&D? 2 Who Can Be Involved? 2 How Can I Get Involved? 3 How Is An RC&D Organized? 3 What Is An RC&D Council? 4 How Is An RC&D Funded? 4 What Assistance Does RC&D Provide? 5 What Do RC&D Committees Do? 5 What Can RC&D Do That Other Organizations Can’t Do? 6 What Is The Role Of Conservation Partnership Employees In The RC&D? 7 What Does A Coordinator Do? 7 What Is The History of RC&D? 8 What Is The Oklahoma Association of RC&D Councils? 8 What Is The National Association of RC&D Councils? 9 How Can We Make It Happen? 9 Who Do I Contact For More Information? 10 1
  2. 2. What Is RC&D?RC&D is short for Resource Conservation and RC&D provides “facilitated self-help” forDevelopment. conservation and economic development in communities.RC&D is a unique program that helps peopleprotect and develop their economic, natural, and RC&D provides a framework for dealing withsocial resources in ways that improve their issues through citizen participation.areas economy, environment, and quality of life. RC&D is action-directed. It accomplishes what isRC&D provides a way for people to plan and planned and agreed to by communities, publicimplement projects that will make their and private organizations, and programs – allcommunities a better place to live. working together.RC&D brings together people, needs, concerns, RC&D is a unique combination of privateopportunities, and solutions. enterprise and federal assistance that encourages the blending of natural resourcesRC&D is as much a way of doing things – a use with local economic and social values.process – as it is a program. RC&D is a People’s Program.What Are The Benefits of RC&D?RC&D is designed to make communities a more viable, productive, and better place to live. RC&Dprojects may create new jobs in agriculture, tourism, and other industries. Projects may focus on naturalresources issues, improving community development, economic growth, or quality of life in Oklahoma. RC&Ds organize local citizens and partners who identify and address local concerns. RC&Ds recognize that most resource problems and opportunities do not stop at the county line. RC&Ds work seamlessly across political and jurisdictional boundaries. RC&Ds are public and private organizations and individuals working together. RC&D leverages limited federal and state dollars with private funds and resources to accomplish local goals. RC&Ds strive to achieve a balance between economic development and resource conservation. RC&D is a USDA assisted effort so all USDA agencies have an interest in working through RC&D Councils to solve problems and address local resource needs. RC&Ds can provide an extensive network of technical, organizational, and financial assistance. RC&D responds to the needs of local communities, for both resource issues and socio-economic development.Who Can Be Involved?ANYONE who believes that one person can make a difference.ANYONE who wants to be involved in making things happen in their community, their county, their region, their state.ANYONE who wants to see natural resources utilized without adversely affecting the environment.ANYONE who wants to improve the quality of life in their community. 2
  3. 3. How Can I Get Involved?You can make things happen! There are many opportunities to get involved in RC&D in Oklahoma.People from all walks of life are making changes in their communities and you can join them. Whetheryou live in a city or the country and whether you are a school council member or teacher, business or farm owner, homeowner or consumer, theres a place for you in RC&D. You may already be involved in a community project, which could benefit from RC&D Program involvement or assistance. We may be able to coordinate technical or financial assistance, or put you in touch with private and public organizations, which can help your group reach its goals. You may also want to consider working with us to start new projects in your community or region. Most of the work is done in committees who identify projects and needs and develop plans of action to accomplish those plans. We constantly seek privatecitizens, businesses, and organizations to become members of committees or to participate in planningprojects, identifying priorities, or just helping with one activity.Your participation is welcome!How Was An RC&D Area Organized?An RC&D area is multi-county. The local people define, sponsor and direct a program that encouragesland conservation and utilization, accelerated economic development and/or improvement of socialconditions to foster a sound local economy.RC&D areas include adjacent counties that have substantialnatural resources to use for economic improvement andcommunity betterment. The size of an area was determined by theSponsors’ needs, existing multi-county organizations, programs,and the natural resources of the region.The Sponsors went through an application process with the USDASecretary of Agriculture for authorization. Authorization means thatUSDA is committed to this area to provide both financial andtechnical assistance.RC&Ds can expand or decrease in size, with new counties joiningor charter counties deciding to go with other RC&Ds. This decisionis totally voluntary and at the discretion of individual Councils.USDA approves a request for expansion.What Is An RC&D Council?RC&D Councils in Oklahoma are non-profit, tax-exempt organizations within the state and are 501(c)(3)entities by Internal Revenue Service determination. This standing makes them eligible to secure grantfunds from private foundations and others, to receive private individual donations, to become holders ofproperty, etc., as allowed by their by-laws.RC&Ds are not-for-profit businesses and are not entities of government.RC&D Councils are made up of people just like you, who want a better life for themselves, their children,and future generations. While they certainly have interests and concerns that are very important to them,they don’t have “tunnel vision” that prevents them from seeing opportunities for community improvementin many areas. They have a genuine desire to play an active role in addressing the problems of the areaor want to take a leadership role in "making things happen" for the betterment of citizens in the area. 3
  4. 4. RC&D Council representatives and alternates are volunteers who assist the RC&D in working with localpeople, agencies, and organizations to identify critical problems, develop a plan to alleviate the problems,and carry out the plan to help improve the quality of life in their area.These Council representatives:  Attend the Council meetings (usually quarterly or as determined by their bylaws).  Elect officers according to their bylaws.  Oversee the legal and fiduciary responsibilities of the Council.  Evaluate the business and effectiveness of the Council.  Set the direction and goals for the future of the RC&D.  Set the policies and determine the operating procedures of the Council.  Decide on projects to be adopted, services to provide, and committees to establish based on priorities.Each RC&D Council operates entirely independent of other RC&Ds. Each Council seeks to addressconcerns and problems that are identified by the local people within their RC&D area. This means aCouncil may be working on many different areas of concern and in vastly different ways than theircounterparts in other parts of Oklahoma. Although RC&Ds operate independently, they are more thanwilling to share ideas and information to keep others from reinventing the wheel.How Is An RC&D Funded?As an authorized RC&D, funding is received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through theNatural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for staffing and some additional financial support. Thesupport provides a coordinator to work with the Council to identify problems, establish goals andobjectives, build strategies, and implement plans. In addition to a full time coordinator, NRCS providesfor a part time assistant, office space, some equipment and supplies, and a government vehicle for thestaff.Although we receive assistance from NRCS and many other partnering agencies and organizations, thepriorities and policies are determined by local people.RC&Ds receive no additional federal dollars (other than competitive grants) for projects or activities.However, RC&Ds do receive technical and in-kind assistance from NRCS and other partners, which isinvaluable to our operations. Funding for projects and operating expenses comes from a variety ofsources – applying for grants, workshop registration fees, fundraisers, private foundations, endowmentfunds, etc.Once the Council adopts a project, a volunteer taskforce or standing resource committee goes to work toplan and carry out the activities to achieve the desired results. The committee researches potentialfunding sources, helps write grant proposals, and brings public and private resources together toaccomplish their project.What Assistance Does RC&D Provide?RC&D Councils seek and coordinate assistance from a variety of public and private sources. Assistancemay include coordinating technical help from a government agency or private consultant; planning ordeveloping an educational program; planning a financing package for a project that includes donations,loans, grants, or cost-sharing; or bringing together diverse groups to achieve common goals. 4
  5. 5. The type of assistance provided depends on the area’sneeds and the projects approved by the Council.RC&Ds work cooperatively with individuals, groups, andagencies to bring a project to completion. RememberRC&D is more of a process of solving problems, ratherthan a program.Once a project is approved, the RC&D identifiesagencies or organizations that can assist in completingeach step of the plan, to serve as sources of technicalassistance and provide financial resources, if needed.RC&Ds provide the vehicle for achieving a goal andcompleting projects. But, an idea does not become an “RC&D project” in the sense that an RC&D doeseverything. Local leadership and support are key elements for any successful project.Some types of assistance available include: identifying potential funding sources  conducting tours and educational events working with grant writers  serving as an umbrella organization for new non-profits and foundations serving as a conduit for “pass-through” grants  coordinating technical assistance helping with grant administration  conducting research organizing events  coordinating mailings hiring multi-county employees  conducting information campaignsThe amount and kind of assistance depends on the type of project and the Council’s wishes. The project should help fulfill the mission of the RC&D.What Do RC&D Committees Do?Committees are the lifeblood of any RC&D. Serving on a committee gives private citizens andprofessionals’ opportunities to work together on specific issues and to be involved in solving localproblems and needs.The Council may set up a committee for any purpose and at any time. Some examples are resourcecommittees, project committees, ad hoc committees, and taskforces.Committees identify and bring to the Council resource issues and concerns, along with proposedsolutions. All committees operate under the umbrella and authority of the Council. Standing resource committees vary in each RC&D according to the Council’s identified resources and needs. Some examples of committees could include: education, urban, wildlife, tourism and recreation, grants, community development, agriculture, land, rural issues, water, watershed protection, and rural fire protection. Committees meet as often as needed to accomplish their business. Each year, committees submit what they plan to accomplish, along with a budget to the Council to be incorporated into the annual plan of work. All project proposals are weighed as to fulfilling the RC&D’s mission. 5
  6. 6. What Can RC&D Do That Other County Organizations Can’t Do?RC&D seeks to enhance and assist rather than duplicate the efforts of other agencies and organizations.Because the authority of the RC&D is broad-based and we bring the “private” enterprise to the table, weare able to work across jurisdictional, political and other boundaries to correct multi-county problems andwork on projects outside the normal authority of our partners. RC&D brings diverse partners and privatecitizens and businesses to the table to solve problems. RC&D is another tool for these agencies to use infinding resources they need to address local issues. RC&D, you can do anything the local people wantto do as long as it fits within the Council’s long range plans and goals for the area.All kinds of natural resources, rural, urban, community and economic development opportunities exist andare right now being promoted, protected, or developed throughout Oklahoma by groups of citizensbrought together through RC&D Councils. There is virtually no limit to the kinds of projects RC&Ds cando.RC&Ds have broad authority to seek help from sources best qualified toprovide assistance. RC&D is local citizens working together with units ofgovernment and others to plan and implement projectsRC&Ds are not entities of government; therefore the usual policiesand constraints of local, state, and federal government programs do notlimit them in the kinds of issues they decide to address or how theydecide to do it.A Council made up of local people determines the types of concerns,projects, and activities in which they will become involved. Thisgrassroots involvement is highly valuable as it provides for a Council’sdecision-making at the local level. Local people then help to carry outthe projects/activities, which are approved by the Council.RC&D projects benefit a multi-county, multi-jurisdictional, or regionalarea. However, a Council may choose to focus on a county-specific orlocal project if it helps to achieve the overall goals of the RC&D.RC&Ds strive to focus on niche areas and projects that cannot be (orhave not been) addressed by another entity for various reasons. These projects or activities usuallycannot be addressed under the enabling legislation or authorities of our Conservation Partners (CDs,NRCS, CES, etc.) and others.Our partners often find the RC&D’s extensive network of citizen activists and organizations helps thempromote and implement their projects more effectively. Any Sponsor may request the RC&D Council,through its extended network of individual and organizational partners, to assist them in implementingprojects important to their missions.RC&Ds are responsible to find their own funding for projects and activities. Through their efforts, theybring additional dollars into each RC&D county from non-traditional funding sources such as privatefoundation or corporation grants, fundraising events, non-USDA federal funding sources, outright ormatching gifts, in-kind and volunteer assistance, endowment funds, and more. An average RC&Dleverages anywhere from $5 to $96 for every dollar received.RC&Ds are constantly seeking seed money for starting up new projects or offsetting the cost of ongoingprojects.All of Oklahoma’s RC&Ds are public non-profit corporations, with a 501(c)(3) designation by the InternalRevenue Service. Donations to Councils are tax deductible. Many grant-making foundations will give onlyto 501(c)(3) organizations. RC&Ds are very successful in their ability to apply for, receive, and administergrant funds and other types of financial assistance. 6
  7. 7. What Is The Role Of Conservation Partnership In The RC&D?In Oklahoma, Conservation Partnerships (CD, CES, and NRCS) primarily serve as the technical and/orresource advisors for committees. They provide an important link to both the local people and to theSponsoring organizations (CD Boards, County Extension Service Boards, or Commissioners). Employeesactively work with the Council and its resource or project committees to accomplish goals, activities andprojects. Conservation Partnership employees are an essential part of any successful RC&D and are encouraged to attend committee and/or Council meetings, whenever possible. Employees and their supervisors are encouraged to discuss needed support of the RC&D’s projects and activities. They are encouraged to review the RC&D’s plan of work to see where their assistance (technical or administrative) may be needed. Conservation Partnership employees are important to the exchange of information about emerging conservation issues and policy, as well as new technology, which may affect the RC&D’s operations and direction.The RC&D relies on Conservation Partnership employees to help make local meeting arrangements, helpdevelop programs, determine locations for tours and workshops, promote activities, make media contacts,provide technical assistance, and serve as a local point of contact for the RC&D.Many staff employees take the initiative to work closely with the RC&D Council’s representatives to keepthem informed and apprised of local priority issues and concerns. The relationships developed betweenemployees and Council members are extremely valuable to the RC&D.Conservation Partnership employees may be asked to report on RC&D activities at local Sponsor boardmeetings, in the absence of the Council representative.What Does A Coordinator Do?RC&D staff assistance can vary from providing a sounding board for ideas, todeveloping a step-by-step plan to reach goals, to coordinating the financial andtechnical assistance, to implementing a project.A primary role for the Coordinator is to serve as a liaison between USDA agenciesand the RC&D Council. Listed below are other examples of Coordinator assistance: communicates Council plans and activities with  works with Council representatives to motivate potential partners; local citizens to work together to solve local problems; provides leadership and oversees the daily operations of Council activities;  provides staff leadership in planning, coordination, and implementation of all RC&D coordinates the writing and administration of projects; grants;  provides technical assistance to the Council ensures proper recording of official documents when contacting potential funders; for the Council;  develops and maintains information and networks with interested individuals and groups education programs; to bring them together to address common concerns;  facilitates planning sessions for project committees to help them with direction and serves as public information specialist; focus; assists with maintaining historical records;  guides the development and distribution of the facilitates opportunities for public input into the Council’s operating and marketing documents Council’s goal setting and work plans; and materials, such as the work plan, newsletters, and annual report. 7
  8. 8. What Is The History Of RC&D?In the 1960’s Congress established a unique program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture thatempowered rural people to help themselves. The USDA focus was to assist local people by providingtools and technical support to stabilize and grow their own communities while protecting and developingnatural resources. In return, "Councils" provide local direction and planning, and coordinate the implementation of specific projects within their boundaries. The focus on local direction and control has made RC&D one of the most successful rural development programs of the Federal Government. Project focus provides for the sustainability of local economies and resources. The RC&D program was authorized by the Food and Agriculture Act of 1962. It expanded opportunities for State and local units of government, local non-profit organizations, soil and water conservation districts, and individuals to improve their communities in multi-county areas. While the basic program authority of theRC&D program is conducted under the authority of Section 102 of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1962(P.L. 87-703), other authorities have been added and/or changed in the Program (contact any RC&Doffice for a list of public laws).The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated the responsibility to administer the RC&D Program to theChief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.The Secretary of Agriculture has reserved the authority to approve expansions of authorized RC&DAreas, designate new RC&D areas, and to withdraw authorization for assistance. Authorization of anRC&D Area by the Secretary allows federal RC&D funds to be spent in the designated Areas. Thesefunds provide for establishing and staffing an RC&D office, development of an RC&D Area plan, andtechnical assistance.What Is the Oklahoma Association Of RC&DCouncils?Oklahoma currently has nine approved RC&D whenareas, that cover all of Oklahoma. Each RC&D area makingcovers seven to ten counties that share similar agency, corporate, and legislative contacts. Theeconomic, community, and natural resource State Association networks with other statewideconditions. The Oklahoma Association of RC&D public and private organizations that have similarCouncils provides support to Councils, promotes interests and goals.communication among Councils, and helps them The State Association is also a 501(c)(3) not-for-work together toward common goals. Joint projects profit corporation in itself and has applied for andmay include hosting conferences, providing training received grants to conduct Association businessopportunities, coordinating statewide projects, and and carry out statewide projects.informing leaders about issues of concern. TheAssociation seeks to improve individual RC&D The OARC&D, made up of two representativesCouncil member skills and abilities by providing from each of Oklahoma’s RC&D Councils, meetstraining sessions and workshops on leadership quarterly to conduct business.development, network building, and current ruraland economic development strategies. Each Council pays annual membership dues to the State Association. The dues help to cover the costThe Oklahoma Association is a “unified voice” of producing outreach materials, travel cost forrepresenting all the Oklahoma RC&D Councils Association leaders, and training programs. 8
  9. 9. What Is The National Association Of RC&DCouncils?The National Association of Resource Conservation and DevelopmentCouncils (NARC&DC) was established in 1988 to represent Americas 315local Resource Conservation and Development Councils at the national level. The NARC&DC worksclosely with the USDA Working Group (made up of USDA agencies), National Association ofConservation Districts, and the National NRCS RC&D staff to assure good communication andcooperation on all program activities. The local councils deliver coordinated resource conservation andrural development assistance throughout rural America. By working together on local RC&D Councils;communities, all levels of Government, and grassroots organizations work together to develop andimplement solutions to widespread problems and to develop opportunities that will help sustain ruralcommunities, local economies, and natural resources.There are six Regional Associations of RC&D Councils, which operate under the National Association ofRC&D Councils and represent the state associations within their respective areas. Oklahoma is amember of the Southwest States RC&D region consisting of the following states: Arkansas, Kansas,Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. How Can We Make It Happen? • RC&D is based on the idea that local people know what their communities need and can create solutions that will really work. • Groups of local volunteers participate in RC&D Councils, which represent diverse organizations within the multi-county region. • RC&D Council Directors and Committees volunteer their time to address important issues in their communities, and to build a better life for themselves and others. • RC&D works across jurisdictional and political lines to solve resource problems. • The strength of the RC&D program is local people working together to solve their own problems. • The development of local leadership and community pride is a key part of RC&D projects and successes. The Mission of the Fun Country RC&D is to Facilitate the Implementation of Locally Developed Strategies for the Economic, Social and Environmental betterment of our Communities. 9
  10. 10. If you have any questions aboutthe Resource Conservation andDevelopment Program in Map ofOklahoma, please contact: Oklahoma’s RC&D Area’sCherokee Hills RC&D Office918 West ChoctawTahlequah, OK 74465Telephone: 918-456-1924 x3FAX: 918-456-2304Cross Timbers RC&D Office121 Sertco RoadOkemah, OK 74859Telephone: 918-623-0658FAX: 918-623-1509Fun Country RC&D Office105 N. Indian MeridianPauls Valley, OK 73075Telephone: 405-238-6544FAX: 405-238-3117 Who Can I Contact For More Information orGreat Plains RC&D Office1505 N. Glenn English become a part of the RC&D Program?Cordell, OK 73632-1405Telephone: 580-832-3275 x5 If you have any questions about the Fun Country ResourceFAX: 580-832-2434 Conservation and Development Program in Oklahoma, please contact:High Plains RC&D Office Angela Williams, RC&D Coordinator# 2 Miles Addition (PO Box 353) Fun Country RC&D OfficeBuffalo, OK 73834 105 N. Indian MeridianTelephone: 580-735-2033 Pauls Valley, OK 73075FAX: 580-735-2536 Telephone: 405-238-6544 Mobile: 405-238-0687Oklahoma Chisholm Trail RC&D FAX: 405-238-3117Office3901 West Beech Fun Country RC&D serves the Oklahoma counties of Atoka, Bryan,Duncan, OK 73533-4022 Carter, Coal, Garvin, Johnston, Love, Marshall, Murray and PontotocTelephone: 580-252-4253FAX: 580-255-1938Ouachita Mountains RC&DOffice7 E Choctaw, Suite 101McAlester, OK 74501-5060Telephone: 918-423-2479FAX: 918-423-0793 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and whereTallgrass RC&D Office applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an5401 S. Sheridan, Suite 106 individuals income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibitedTulsa, OK 74145-7522 bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means forTelephone: 918-627-8101 communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) shouldFAX: 918-280-1594 contact USDAs TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202)Wheatland RC&D Office 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.1216 W Willow, Suite EEnid, OK 73703-2532Telephone: 580-234-8331FAX: 580-237-9536 10