Michael Crowder has been named president-elect of the National Association of Conservation Districts.

Crowder is general manager of the Barker Ranch in West Richland, Wash.

Crowder will serve as president-elect for one year. He will be sworn in as president for a one-year term in February 2021 during the association’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

He’s also been a supervisor for the Benton Conservation District for more than a decade. He became an area director for the state association of conservation districts in 2012.

“I was a producer that did a conservation project,” Crowder told the Capital Press. “It started me off on a 15-year journey that I didn’t know where I was going to head, but now I’m going to be representing all the conservation districts in the U.S.”

Crowder is excited to represent farmers and ranchers in all 50 states.

“You have to step up and lead or get out of the way,” he said. “I enjoy the policy.”

Crowder worked closely with the offices of Reps. Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Kim Schrier on issues such as the Conservation Reserve Program in Washington and the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Believe it or not, in 2021, we’re starting hearings on the next farm bill,” he said.

Crowder is also chairman of the national association’s legislative committee, which closely reviews interim rules for CRP, EQIP and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP, to ensure farmers and ranchers receive what they need.

“If farmers aren’t making money, they aren’t putting conservation on the ground,” he said.

Crowder doesn’t foresee many changes to the association.

“I’m pretty proud of where we’re at and where we’re headed,” he said.

He pointed to his experiences as a farmer and rancher, and said he can be a trusted voice for farmers in his new leadership position.

According to the association, Crowder holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in natural resources and environmental sciences, as well as numerous conservation awards, including Benton County and Washington state’s “Wildlife Farmer of the Year” awards, the Washington Association of Conservation Districts’ “Young Tiger” award and the Ducks Unlimited “Wood Duck,” “Bronze Mallard” and “Silver Mallard” awards.

For eight years, Crowder taught wetland restoration, wildlife science and ecology as an adjunct professor at Washington State University-Tri-Cities. He currently manages farming operations in Illinois and Washington state and is actively involved in the management of his family’s third-generation farm in Indiana.

“Michael epitomizes conservation, both in his leadership at the national level and on the ground on his operations in Illinois, Indiana and Washington state,” association president Tim Palmer said in a press release. “Having worked with Michael closely for several years on NACD’s officer team and on the NACD Board of Directors, I’m confident he is well-suited to champion locally led conservation in the years ahead.”

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