Presidents Message - August 22 2014


Report on RC&D Annual Meeting
August 7-8, 2014

Have you heard that a (Panthera tigris), tiger, has just arrived at the Veterinary Hospital?

This was the buzz as the RC&D Annual Business Meeting in the Sequoia Room; University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine had just adjourned.


Yes, if you were not in attendance, it was an unusual venue for the Annual Meeting. The University Institute of Agriculture Chancellor, Dr. Larry Arrington, welcomed the attendees and extended an offer of assistance during our stay. A guided tour of the facilities was indeed a "wow" experience - animals, live surgical operations, diagnoses, treatment and rehab. The cattle wing was off limit due to quarantine.

Our "thank you" goes to Smoky Mountain RC&D Council for a successful meeting. It was well organized, interesting, loaded with outstanding speakers and even featured a supper cruise on Volunteer Princess Riverboat up and down the historic Tennessee River.

A special note of appreciation goes to Dr. Gary Schneider, Professor Emeritus, of the University for his facilitation of the event. Rarely do you find an individual of his distinguished achievement willing to assist in the goal of resource conservation and development in Tennessee.

Take a look at the speakers. David Brace, Director of Public Service from the Knoxville Mayor's office, got the session off to a great start. During a meeting with him prior to the opening greeting, David told a tale that couldn't be topped by any introduction. His father, Professor Brace, had retired from the Vet school. David explained that he had never visited a physician during childhood. When he contracted "worms" from playing with some of the animal patients, his father took stool samples and treated him with the same care and attention as the other animals. Who and how could any other speaker follow?

Well, Dr. Gary Schneider kept the attendees attention with a 30 minute seminar on "Our Forest - A Sustainable Asset." Eston Williams, Outreach Coordinator, NRCS, kept the pace going with "Strike Force Initiative, Women in Agriculture." A number of our Council counties will qualify for assistance with this program.

Next on the agenda came Louis Buck, International Marketing Specialist, Market Development Division, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, with an important and timely discussion of "Diversity and Tourism in Agriculture." Louis is known by many of our Council members and has a special delivery that replicates a personal conservation.

It was time for a refreshment break sponsored by Roy Settle, Appalachian RC&D and First Bank and Trust of Johnson City, door prizes and a guided tour of the Vet School.

Now time for dinner and cruise on the Tennessee River.

John Rissler, NRCS Asst. State Conservationist, started the Friday Morning session with "Soil Health and the Farm Bill." He responded to requests to discuss NRCS programs in which RC&D Councils can participate. Get in contact with John for details.

It would be normal for most meeting attendees to be in fatigue mode after a two day session, however, Chris Graves, Lecturer and Certified Wildlife Biologist of the UT Dept. of Forestry, delivered a 30 minute lecture on "Value of Tennessee's Wildlife and Fisheries Resources. The members demanded more and he responded - students of the department are most fortunate to have a young professor who can make learning that interesting.

A time for a deep breath and the Annual Business Meeting was to begin. The first item was a moment of silence to honor our colleague, Larry Lofton. His untimely death reminded all that birth and death are given; however, when you lose an advocate for the mission of Resource Conservation and Development, it creates silent depth.

The 2014 Envirothon Report highlighted the third place national finish of our Tennessee Team - Clinton High School of Cumberland Mountain RC&D Council.

Also, the $5000 Creativity Grant for 2014 was won by Southeast Tennessee RC&D Council. This competition generated a number of council entries which resulted in the Executive Committee's announcement that a 2015 Creativity Grant will be forthcoming. Details of rules and deadline for entry will come your way soon.

Finally, the President's Award for service to the Tennessee Council was delivered to Glenda Rickman - she has been untiring during the 2014 year.

Thanks again to Executive Director Candy Barbee, Russell Harris, Justin Teague, Eston Williams and all the Board of Directors of Smoky Mountain RC&D Council for an outstanding meeting.

Bill G. Williams, President
Tennessee RC&D Council