Monroe County, Iowa
Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District Board
From Left to Right around the table: Mervin McDanel, Don Niebuhr, Joe Pyle, Bob Scott, Marvin Wirtjes, Jim Nelson; not pictured, Colleen Putnam
* Commissioners meet the first Monday of every month at 9:00 AM at the USDA Service Center in Albia, IA.
Mervin McDanel, Chairperson
Don Niebuhr, Vice-Chair/Treasurer
Joe Pyle, Co-Treasurer
Bob Scott, Co-treasurer
Colleen Putnam, Education Committee
Jim Nelson, REAP Committee
The Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District is managed by five elected commissioners. Commissioners are elected by the voters of Monroe County to serve on the board for a 4-year term. Only an eligible voter residing in Monroe County is qualified for this Office. The election for commissioner is nonpartisan so candidates do not have to declare an affiliation with any political party.
Although the duties of a commissioner can be challenging, it can also can be very rewarding. Board members address the natural resource & water quality issues that are most critical in the county. Technical assistance is provided by the and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality (IDALS-DSCWQ) as well as the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Commissioners attend one regular board meeting each month. They also have opportunity to attend several informational and educational meetings throughout the year. Commissioners are reimbursed for mileage and qualified meal expenses that are incurred. Additional educational meetings are optional but are usually rewarded with a valuable information and an opportunity to meet other conservationists and at times, legislators.
As a commissioner, your role will include establishing conservation priorities, resolving soil loss complaints, establishing acceptable soil loss limits, publishing an annual report, approving soil conservation plans, and assisting in the management of district funds and personnel.
From education to promotion, the Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District increases awareness of the necessity of soil and water conservation. The commissioners participate in Farm Bureau Ag Day and with assistance from the County Conservation Board, organize an educational day at Lake Miami for Albia third graders. The district also offers a yearly scholarship and partners with IDALS-DSCWQ in an internship program. With the help of Cargill, Inc., & the local Pheasants Forever Chapter they provide corn for wildlife, free of charge, to the community. Commissioners are a liaison between landowners/operators, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-DSCWQ, and the NRCS field office. They decide which cost share practices fit best in Monroe County and figure the average cost of them, support local watershed activities, and attend meetings to voice concerns of producers and lobby for funding of cost share projects. These dedicated individuals have customers’ best interest in mind when determining financial, farming and environmental needs.
Current issues Commissioners engage in are:
Assist in the management of district funds and personnel
Resolving soil loss complaints
Establishing acceptable soil loss limits
Soil loss from farming practices
Approving soil conservation plans
Construction in environmentally sensitive areas
Construction and maintenance of terraces, basins and grade stabilization structures
How to Become a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner:
The requirements to become an elected commissioner are: Be a citizen of the United States, be a resident of Iowa and be at least 18 years old. Those not eligible are: A convicted felon (unless voting rights have been restored by the president or governor), be currently judged to be incompetent to vote by a court and claim the right to vote in any other place. A Nomination Petition for Non-Partisan Offices is required to be filed with the County Auditor. At least 25 eligible voters must sign the Nomination Petition for Non-Partisan Offices. You must also file an affidavit stating your name, residence and an assurance that you are an eligible candidate You must file these with the Auditor no later than the 69th day before the general election. No political party is designated. If elected, you will take an oath of office and begin your four-term on the first business day in January following the election (that is not a Sunday or a holiday).
Districts offer services without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, political beliefs or marital status. Studies have shown that where minorities and/or women are represented on boards in proportion to their presence in the area, program participation by these groups increased. District boards are seeking more diversity in their representation. To help broaden interest in district programs and to bring different perspectives to district boards, districts encourage members from those groups to consider serving as a soil and water conservation district commissioner..
"It is the policy of this District to provide equal opportunity in District services and employment to all persons. An individual shall not be denied equal access to District employment opportunities because of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or physical or mental disability. It also is the policy of this District to apply affirmative action measures to correct deficiencies in the District employment system where those remedies are appropriate. This policy shall be construed broadly to effectuate its purposes"