Andrew Williams, Farmer, CEO of The United Christian Community Association, Retired NRCS (AL)
In the mid 1990’s I was working for USDA/NRCS as an RC&D Coordinator and I was looking for new ideas as it related to small scale farmers. Many of the programs and project that NRCS administered did not fit such farmers. When I attended my first SAWG conference I met people with a different kind of mind set as it related to production agriculture. This conference was like going to the super bowl in terms of information and practices that fit small farmers.
In 1996 I became the State Outreach Coordinator for NRCS in Alabama, in this position my job was to market NRCS programs in underserved communities. As stated above many of these programs did not fit small farmers very well. At this point I began to use some of the knowledge that I learned at the Southern SAWG Conference in requests to NRCS program staff to change policies to include such in their programs: Pasture Poultry, Micro-irrigation system, Woodland Grazing, and High Tunnel Hoop Houses.
In addition, I learned how to use the knowledge on my personal farm and this put me in a better position to help other farmers as a consultant moving forward today.