By Sara Thompson, NRCS NHQ Natural Resources Specialist
The Southwest Climate Hub and NRCS teamed up to host hosted "Climate Conversations" with NRCS and Partner staff in all 5 States covered by the Hub (Arizona, Hawai’i, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah). With the goal of increasing climate change literacy and knowledge of available resources, more than 347 people were reached. Natural Resources Conservation (NRCS) Climate Hub liaison Sara Thompson coordinated the 1-hour conversation which was adapted from a 2020 NRCS Climate Hub Liaison project completed by Elizabeth Marks. Each tailored Climate Conversation focuses on the basics of climate change along with State-selected topics such as long-term drought, future irrigation concerns and wildfire. With natural resource professionals in nearly every county in the U.S. and Territories NRCS is well positioned to help producers adapt to climate change, as increasing operational resiliency is at the core of the NRCS mission. With the expertise of the Southwest Climate Hub, conversations were tailored based on the State identified needs so that valuable data, insights, and new information resources on issues that participants were facing could be discussed. Brining awareness to the Climate Hubs and the information shared extends their reach and gives NRCS conservationists and partners local information sources they may not have otherwise known about. Due to the success in the SW Climate Hub area, the Climate conversations were expanded into South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Tennessee using the same framework and partnering with the Northern Great Plains and Midwest Climate Hubs.
The learning during these Climate Conversations is not just for the NRCS field and partner staff, but also for the Climate Hubs and NRCS leadership. During the Climate Conversation NRCS field and partner staff share their experiences of climate and weather impacts to the producers they work with and how they are addressing them. The conversations also provided feedback about what NRCS Field Offices and partners need to help build climate resiliency, topping the list for all 9 States was demonstration plots showing adaptive practices in use and fact sheets In total, Climate Conversations have reached 862 NRCS staff and partners in 9 States. Topping the lists of needs are demonstration plots showing adaptive practices in use and technical information. Preferred methods of sharing information on was webinars and fact sheets. In all, 97% of participants reported gaining understanding of climate resiliency through these conversations.