From USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida:Gainesville, Fla., Aug. 3, 2015 – The USDA Joint Forestry Team’s Two-Chief Award was recently presented to the Florida Land Stewardship Partnership for its outreach and land management planning efforts for private landowners. The award recognizes successful forestry conservation efforts made possible through partnerships. Receiving the award are Chris Demers, University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Anthony Grossman, Florida Forest Service, Joe Prenger, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Michael Bush, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The partnership isn’t new. The group used to work together as the Forest Stewardship Program in the 90s. But the program needed to meet the needs of a broader audience. So along with a name change in 2012, the Florida Land Steward Partnership expanded its efforts to all landowners in the state, providing assistance in agriculture and natural resource management as well as forestry. They centralized information and resources in one place, launched a website and developed an email listserv, Facebook page and blog to distribute land stewardship information and publicize upcoming events.
The partners also created multi-agency teams to develop whole-property management plans and provide technical assistance to landowners. Outreach efforts allow attendees to receive information and services in a unified package, which helps prevent duplication of effort, contradictory messages, or missed opportunities. Partners’ outreach efforts have been successful, resulting in more than 54,000 website hits in 2014, email updates sent to over 1,700 landowners and professionals, and more than 7,000 calendars distributed annually.
The USDA Joint Forestry Team is a national partnership of the USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Association of State Foresters representing state forestry agency executives, and the National Association of Conservation Districts. The Team’s purpose is to make recommendations that result in coordinated interagency delivery of forestry and conservation assistance for working forests, farms and ranches.