Cover of Conservation Practitioner Poll Report

Conservation Practitioner Poll 2021 Summary Report
Soil and Water Conservation Society, 2021

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Conservation practitioners are the delivery system for natural resource conservation across the nation. Employees of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Departments, state conservation agencies, and nongovernmental conservation organizations work directly with farmers and landowners to implement conservation practices through technical assistance, conservation planning, and program implementation. Recent research has found that interaction with a conservation professional over time is a consistent predictor of farmer adoption of conservation practices. Despite the critical role that conservation practitioners play in helping farmers protect the nation’s natural resources, the voice of conservation practitioners is largely absent from policy discussions. Without a direct feedback mechanism from conservation practitioners, policy makers are at a disadvantage as they develop policies and programs that guide conservation implementation across the nation.

To address this lack of direct feedback and elevate the perspectives of conservation practitioners, the Soil and Water Conservation Society has created the Conservation Practitioner Poll, a survey designed to regularly collect data on the needs and recommendations of conservation practitioners on a wide variety of topics. The goals of the Conservation Practitioner Poll are threefold: to learn from boots-on-the-ground practitioners how to improve the conservation delivery system, to understand what conservation practitioners need to be satisfied and successful in their jobs, and to elevate their voice in national conversations. The information gathered from this poll provides insight into conservation practitioners’ perspectives regarding conservation programs and policies. Given that research has shown that farmers who interact regularly with conservation practitioners are more likely to adopt conservation practices, this poll also seeks to understand how best to support them in their work.

The inaugural survey was conducted in spring 2021 with funding from the Walton Family Foundation and in partnership with Iowa State University researchers.

Suggested Citation
Morris, C., J.G. Arbuckle, C. DeLong, and C. Lindahl. 2021. Conservation Practitioner Poll 2021 Summary Report. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

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