Alaska NRCS is anticipating a large number of federal staff will retire in the next two years, leaving gaps in major federal conservation programs across the state. To mitigate this brain drain, the state decided to create a part time ACES Program position to assist with the turnover by getting current staff trained in all the important disciplines. The duties of this position include taking the lead on training, mentoring and developing essential learning tools for staff across the state. Anne Rippy, recently retired from NRCS after 26 years as an Agronomist, learned of this new opportunity and applied. She has been serving as the Field Technical Training and Practice Implementation Specialist since October 2011.
Based out of the Fairbanks NRCS office, Anne travels throughout Alaska conducting trainings, all of which are intended to strengthen and improve the technical adequacy in delivering farm bill programs EQIP and WHIP. She creates training inventories while at the same time exploring more efficient ways to deliver training such as webinars, video conferencing, and conference calls. Her work includes direct training of field staff stressing agronomic and subsistence resources management.
One of her most cherished projects is working with Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) coordinators who have been displaced due to budget cuts or reassignments. NRCS had to figure out how best to utilize this staff in NRCS and identify their training needs in order to assist with a successful transition. An upcoming trip involves traveling to the village of Aniak to assist with the transition of a former RC&D Coordinator who will be covering that region.
Anne notes that NRCS programs aren’t mainstream in Alaska, so it takes creative measures for staff to make national programs succeed. Rather than being an “agricultural” state, Alaska manages their natural resources in a more subsistence manner because of some extremely remote settings. For instance, on the Seward Peninsula, they work with reindeer herders to track and manage the animals from helicopters.
Because of the uniqueness of these villages (many of which can only be accessed by air and boat), their conservation practices and the terrain, it takes more effort to transition new staff into these positions, especially those from out of state. They have to understand the technical aspect and how the program works in order to implement the plans they develop. The staff must also be proficient in unique areas such as first aid and wilderness survival, bear behavior, and shotgun safety training.
Born and raised in Alaska, Anne holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Montana State University in Agriculture and Masters from University of Alaska Fairbanks.