New Indiana State Conservationist Announced

 Indianapolis, IN, July 25, 2018 ‒ The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana welcomes new state conservationist, Jerry Raynor.  Jerry will oversee 80 local service centers, four area offices, and eight conservation delivery teams across the state and over 200  employees who work directly with farmers and landowners.

Jerry is a native of North Carolina and has spent a majority of his 26-year career as part of the conservation partnership there.  Jerry began his career with NRCS as a student trainee and he spent most of his early years in field and area office conservationist positions.  Jerry also worked for Johnston County Soil and Water Conservation District and the North Carolina State Department of Environment. In 2012, he was selected to serve as the state resource conservationist and acting director National Plant Materials Center in Maryland.  In 2013, he returned to North Carolina as assistant state conservationist for operations, later transitioning to assistant state conservationist for management and strategy.  Jerry has also served on several detail positions at the national level, most recently as the acting state conservationist in Idaho.

“I am honored to be the new state conservationist in Indiana,” said Raynor.  “I look forward to meeting and working with our customers, partners and staff in this position to learn about the many great things Indiana is already doing to help conserve natural resources and to continue to move the state forward in agricultural conservation.”

Jerry comes to his position with proven agricultural and leadership qualities.  He was raised on a farm in Sampson County, North Carolina by his parents, Louis and Katie.  After high school, he attended North Carolina State University – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and graduated with a degree in Agriculture Business Management.  Jerry also is a graduate from George Washington University’s Emerging Leadership Development Program; a two-year program hosted in partnership with NRCS.

Jerry has four sisters and currently resides in Indianapolis with his wife Amanda and daughter Amaris.

Indiana NRCS is pleased to welcome Jerry to lead the agency and believes he will bring fresh ideas to the state’s conservation partnership.


Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist, 317-295-5801 (

Becky Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317-295-5825 (

Indiana NRCS Accepting Second Round Applications to Improve Water Quality
in Mississippi River Basin

Indianapolis, February 9, 2018–Jill Reinhart, Acting State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today that NRCS is accepting applications until March 16 to be considered for second round funding to improve water quality in targeted high priority watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. This program helps fund conservation practices that will reduce loss of nutrients and sediment to waters that eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are working with partners to encourage farmers to put in conservation practices that address water quality concerns and help improve soil health and agricultural production in these areas,” Reinhart said. “By targeting dollars to areas of greatest resource concern we can make a more positive impact on the health of our streams and rivers, and ultimately the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.”

These projects are funded through NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), which uses two Farm Bill programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to encourage farmers adopt conservation systems to improve water quality, reduce erosion, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands.

Eligible producers in the targeted watersheds will have the opportunity to take advantage of targeted funding for conservation practices on their land.  Targeted watersheds include:

  • Big Pine Creek Headwaters watershed (portions of White and Benton counties)
  • Big Pine Creek – Brumm Darby watershed (Benton County)
  • Busseron Creek watershed (Vigo and Sullivan counties)
  • Cicero Creek watersheds (Tipton, Hamilton, Clinton and Boone counties)
  • Fish Creek watershed (Owen, Greene, and Monroe counties)
  • Little Wea Creek watershed (Tippecanoe County)
  • Plummer Creek watershed (Greene County)

The program helps to fund key practice that reduce the loss of nutrients and sediments to Indiana waterbodies, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.  Some of the practices that the program can help with include:

  • Cover Crops
  • Nutrient Management
  • Reduced Tillage (Residue and Tillage Management) and No-Till
  • Filter Strips, Grassed Waterways and Contour Buffer Strips
  • Wetland Creation, Wetland Enhancement and Wetland Restoration
  • Edge of field practices, such as Denitrifying Bioreactors and Two-Stage Ditches (Open Channel)

All applications for funding consideration must be received by March 16, 2018.  To learn more about MRBI or the watershed projects selected in Indiana, visit

For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or contact your District Conservationist



Jill Reinhart, Acting State Conservationist, 317-295-5883 (

Gerald Roach, Assistant State Conservationist – Programs, 317-295-5820 (

Becky Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317-295-5825 (

Reinhart Announces Second Round of Applications for Big Pine Watershed

Indianapolis,  January 29, 2018 – Jill Reinhart, Acting State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service announced today they are still accepting applications to improve water quality in the Big Pine watershed located in portions of Benton, White, Warren, and Tippecanoe counties.

Dollars are still available for farmers through the Big Pine Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  RCPP is a partner-led program, with NRCS directing technical and financial assistance to priorities identified by partners.  Partners involved in Indiana’s Big Pine watershed include The Nature Conservancy, Ceres Solutions LLC, Land O’Lakes, Winfield United, Conservation Technology Information Center, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and NRCS.

The partners are working with farmers in this targeted area to increase the number of nutrient and sediment reducing practices on cropland.  While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, March 16 will be the second cutoff date this year to be considered for funding.

“This project is a great example of public, private and non-profit organizations working together to solve local problems,” said Reinhart.  “The group is addressing critical resource issues in the Big Pine watershed such as water quality, soil erosion and at-risk habitat that can have a big impact on the community.”

RCPP funding comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program to help farmers adopt conservation practices that improve water quality within the watershed.  Conservation practices reduce the amount of nutrients flowing from farm fields into waterways, curb erosion and improve the resiliency of agricultural lands during times of extreme weather.  This project is focusing on conservation practices like planting cover crops and nutrient management as well as implementing CSP enhancements which help to boost the effectiveness of a single practice.

“We are working together to focus on practices that will build soil health and productivity in the Big Pine watershed and also tell the story of the effects of those practices on the environment in a way that is meaningful to farmers,” said Reinhart.

All applications for this round of funding consideration must be received by March 16, 2017.

To learn more about RCPP in Indiana, visit:

For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or contact your district conservationist

Indiana NRCS Delivers Healthier Natural Resources, Greater Public Safety, Better Customer Service in 2017

Indianapolis, IN, December 29, 2017 – In 2017, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) continued its proud tradition of working in partnership with farmers and forest landowners in Indiana and across the country.

“I am pleased to share the results of our 2017 program data and science-based surveys that shows we and our conservation partners brought a healthier resource base to Indiana, used taxpayers’ dollars wisely, made people safer, and provided a high level of customer-focused technical assistance to thousands of residents and communities,” said Jane Hardisty, NRCS state conservationist.

Here are some highlights from Indiana:
Investments in Planning and Farm Bill Programs

In Indiana, NRCS completed more than 1,500 contracts helping land managers invest in their operations. This work resulted in conservation plans for 276,753 acres of working lands.

A $23 million investment in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helped put conservation practices on more than 182,380 acres in the state.  Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) enhancements to build on existing conservation efforts were placed on more than 57,902 acres. Nearly 3,428 acres of wetlands in Indiana were protected through new enrollments in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
Targeted Conservation

In 2017, NRCS targeted the conservation of some of the nation’s most-valuable resources. Because of this assistance from NRCS and its partners:

  • In addition to general funding opportunities, NRCS targets dollars to watersheds showing the greatest natural resource concerns. Focusing conservation in these priority watersheds can make a more positive impact on the health of our nation’s streams and rivers.  In Indiana, conservation practices were implemented in priority watersheds including more than 27,409 acres in the Western Lake Erie Basin, 4,522 acres in the Mississippi River Basin and 3,814 acres in the Big Pine watershed.
  • More than $640,000 was invested in Indiana’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, an effort between NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service to reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve habitat for at-risk species while working across public and private lands.
  • The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and military veteran farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing NRCS programs and services. Indiana NRCS worked on 92 contracts with historically underserved landowners, putting conservation on nearly 7,200 acres of their land.
  • Over 1,600 acres of reclaimed mine land in southwest Indiana were restored by implementing soil health practices through the Soil Health on Reclaimed Mine Lands Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project.

Disaster Assistance

Much of Indiana was hit hard by storms in 2017, causing extensive flooding in local communities.  Through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), NRCS provides assistance to communities by working with local government entities and Tribes in impacted areas to remove debris, stabilize streambanks and fix water control structures, among other practices.  Indiana NRCS completed three EWP projects in 2017, investing over one million dollars in financial and technical assistance for streambank and road stabilization projects.  Local partners contributed an addition $346,908 for these projects.

Customer Service

NRCS improved customer service by applying new ways to meet its customers’ needs. In 2017, NRCS:

  • Offered more than 200 customizable conservation activities through Farm Bill programs.
  • Added customer-requested evaluation, ranking, and obligation processes to CSP.
  • Through Indiana NRCS technical assistance, education and outreach efforts many of our customers applied conservation practices on their own. For example, our tillage transect shows that for every acre of cover crop applies through our programs, 5 acres of cover crop was applied on their own expense.

For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or contact your District Conservationist



Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317-295-5801 (

Jerry Roach, Assistant State Conservationist – Programs, 317-285-5820 (

Rebecca Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317-295-5825 (

The 2014 Farm Bill was enacted on February 7, 2014. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers voluntary Farm Bill conservation programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment.

Other helpful information can be found at the Farm Service Agency.