NRCS Conservation Planning


NRCS Conservation Planner Certification

September 2021

National policy related to conservation planning assistance provided to NRCS clients can be found in Title 180 of the General Manual, Part 409:  CONSERVATION PLANNING AND APPLICATION

Missouri NRCS has an approved state supplement that further defines planning policy specific to the state and can found here:  NRCS eDirectives - Part 409 - Conservation Planning Policy

Conservation plans are the basis for all assistance NRCS provides to clients and the basic tool for clients to manage their natural resources. Client participation in all steps of the planning process is encouraged to bring the most value to the process. The objective in conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations. The purpose is to prevent the degradation of resources and to ensure their sustained use and productivity, while considering the client’s economic and social needs. Conservation planning assistance is based on ecological, economic, and social considerations relative to the resources.

Conservation Planner Designations

A conservation planner is a person who possesses the necessary skills, training, and experience to implement the NRCS planning process to meet client objectives in solving resource concerns. The conservation planner has demonstrated skill in assisting clients to identify resource problems, to express the client’s short- and long-term objectives, to propose feasible solutions to resource problems, and encourages the client to choose and implement an effective alternative system that treats resource concerns, meets client’s objectives, and meets all Federal policies.

NRCS recognizes the following four Levels of conservation planner designations:

     1. Conservation Planner Level I (formerly Apprentice conservation planner).

     2. Specialty Conservation Planner Level II (specialty planner designations found in 409.10 and 409.12 and includes the former technical specialist planner).

     3. Certified Conservation Planner Level III (Certified conservation planner).

     4. Certified Conservation Planner Level IV (Master certified conservation planner).

The following persons are required to obtain the Level I, III, or IV conservation planner designations as defined in 180-GM-409-409.9:

     1. NRCS employees with conservation planning as a major duty included in their official position description.

     2. Partner organization or agency employees, including conservation districts, acting on behalf of NRCS and independently assisting customers through the nine-step conservation planning process for developing RMS or progressive conservation plans for NRCS conservation programs.

Specific core competencies and course requirements for each level of conservation planner designation can be found here:  Course Requirements for Planner Designations

All course completions must be documented through the AgLearn system.  Prospective conservation planners must create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in Aglearn and add the specific planner role “Program” to their IDP to document completion and for future supervisor certification.  AgLearn is the official system of record for training and planner curriculum completion.  See Using AgLearn to Track Conservation Planning Certification for guidance on adding the planner “Program”, launching courses, and documenting completion.