North Dakota State Soil Conservation


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District Operations

Supervisor's Handbook Section - District Operations

The following are listed in this section:

District Program of Work
Plan of Operations and Calendar of Work
Board Members
Election of Soil Conservation District Supervisors

Responsibilities of the District Governing Body
District Office

DISTRICT PROGRAM OF WORK - When a Soil Conservation District is organized; a program of work is prepared for that district. Each organization has a stated purpose for its existence. This program of work (long range plan) is the stated purpose of the soil conservation districts and is prepared on the basis of the best data available. It contains the physical facts of the district; such as, climatic and soil conditions, land use, size and type of farming, and conservation problems as they existed when the work plan was prepared. It also contains suggestions for a program that will help correct the con­servation problems that exist. It is essential that district officials be thoroughly acquainted with resource problems, be able to evaluate their importance and be willing to take appropriate steps to solve these problems.

The process of doing the long-range and annual planning is an excellent opportunity for the board to bring in other agencies, groups, or individuals with interest and responsibilities in conservation to work together in plan­ning and activating a dynamic conservation program that will benefit all. Many districts utilize trained facilitators to receive public input to assist in identifying and prioritizing conservation needs.

The Program of Work should be reviewed annually and revised whenever it becomes out of date because of changing methods of farming, new techniques for meeting conservation problems, or as new information; such as, more accurate soils surveys become available.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service technical assistance is provided the soil conservation districts on the basis of this work program. The local soil conservation district enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture, and a Supplemental Memorandum of Understanding with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the State Soil Conservation Committee.

PLAN OF OPERATIONS AND CALENDAR OF WORK --After the program of work has been reviewed and revised if necessary, a plan of operation for the next year should be developed. This plan should include the items which will receive the major emphasis in the education and operation program for the coming year. Go back to the work program and lift from it the most pressing soil and water conservation problems in the district. List these problems and decide what you will do about them the coming year. List the objectives of the educational program and decide what activities will be carried out or promoted.

Review the results of last year's operations and decide the goals for the next year. Ask yourself if you are satisfied with the progress being made.

Once the objectives and goals have been listed, develop a calendar of work for the coming year. This calendar should organize the year's district activity by showing: 
--Who will be responsible for an activity and who will assist. 
--When the activity will take place.             
--How it will be done, or who, what, when, where, and how.

The District Planning Guidebook published by the Conservation Districts Foundation, League City, Texas, can be used very effectively for this purpose.  At the end of the year the guidebook will show what has been accomplished and can be used for the annual report.

No plan is any better than the use that is made of it.  A review of the coming month's calendar of activities should be made the first order of new business at every regular meeting.   For a successful program, put your objectives down on paper, schedule them, and then follow the schedule.  A good plan includes the following:  
1. Establish priorities. 2. A good education program. 3. A good publicity program. 4. Emphasis on the kind and amount of conservation work to be done during the period. 5. Assignment of responsibilities for carrying out the plan. 6. A schedule of time and place that work will be done.

Remember, as a Board Supervisor, you are administering the activities or plan for your district. Call on such help as you need, detail work to the appropriate people, but you do the directing.

BOARD MEMBERS - It is the board members duty to control and supervise the activities of the district, and to set policies for the operation of the district. They are responsible to make sound decisions for the landowners and to make sure that they are well informed of the state and federal regulations that pertain to them. The board must make sure that their district complies with all such laws. Communication between the board members, the employees and the landowners is critical in all areas.

The board also has a responsibility to their employees. To provide them with the means to perform their job, the equipment and the knowledge. They must insure that their employee can perform their jobs safely and efficiently. Dealing with employees is not an easy task and one where a lot of consideration must be given to the well-being of the employee which is part of the well-being of the district. Board members have to decide on the wages, benefits and requirements of their employees.  This is another area where state and federal laws must be taken into consideration.

The board does rely on their managers and employees to keep them informed on the current events affecting the district, but this by no means releases them from their obligation of being involved and informed by other sources.

ELECTION OF SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICT SUPERVISORS - Any land occupier physically living in the soil conservation district and is a qualified elector is eligible to run for the office of a soil conservation district supervisor. A “land occupier” as defined in the Soil Conservation Districts Law, includes any person that holds title to or is in possession of any lands lying within a district whether living or located in a rural or urban area within the district. “Qualified elector” means an individual who is at least eighteen years old, is a citizen of the United States, and who has resided in the precinct thirty days next preceding any election, whether or not the individual is living in a rural or urban area. Any person can become a candidate upon filing a petition and statement of interests with the county auditor of the county or counties in which their district lies. The final filing date for petitions and statement of interests is no later than sixty days before the day of the election and not later than four p.m. of such day. The candidates’ petition must contain signatures of not less than twenty-five, nor more than three hundred qualified electors of the district (SCDs Law, 4-22-17).

In the event a soil conservation district lies in two counties, an original petition and statement of interests with original signatures must be filed with both county auditors concerned.   Any land occupier living in the district who has failed to file a nominating petition and statement of interests may furnish stickers to be attached to the ballot.  The ballot shall have blank spaces below the names of candidates nominated by petition for writing in other names.

The regular election of soil conservation district supervisors shall be held at the same time, and at the same place, as the general election is held. Supervisors are elected for a term of six years. Candidates shall be elected on a nonpartisan ballot. Nominating Petitions and Statement of Interests forms are available through the State Soil Conservation Committee office.

Officially Take Office 
Newly elected soil conservation district supervisors officially take office on the first day of January and upon completing and filing an Oath of Office.

Vacancies - Elected Supervisors
In case the office of any elected supervisor shall, for any reason, become vacant, the remaining members of the board of supervisors shall, with the advice and consent of the State Soil Conservation Committee, fill the vacancy by appointment.  In the event that vacancies shall occur in the office of two elected supervisors, the remaining supervisor and the State Soil Conservation Committee shall fill the vacancy; and in case the offices of all elected supervisors of a district shall become vacant, the State Soil Conservation Committee shall fill the vacancies by appointment. A supervisor appointed to fill a vacancy shall hold office until the next general election. A supervisor elected to fill a vacancy shall serve the balance of the unexpired term in which the vacancy occurred.

Appointed Supervisors      
Any soil conservation district, upon resolution of the three elected supervisors, may appoint two additional supervisors who shall serve for a term of one year from and after the date of their appointment.

Such supervisors shall be appointed by a majority of the three elected supervisors and shall have all the powers, voting privileges, duties, and responsibilities of elected supervisors. As far as possible, the appointed supervisors shall represent interests within the district which are not represented by the elected supervisors.  Try to have equal representation from all parts of the district on the board of supervisors. Such appointments must be made at a district meeting and recorded in the district minutes.   

In accordance with the opinion secured from the Attorney General's office regarding appointment of additional soil conservation district supervisors, a district wishing to appoint additional supervisors must appoint two supervisors.

If the soil conservation district board needs broader coverage than can be obtained with the elected and appointed supervisors, advisors can be appointed.               
1. Can offer advice and counsel.      
2. Cannot vote or take official action at board meetings.
3. Cannot hold an office on the board of supervisors. 
4. Cannot receive supervisor compensation.                
5. Can be reimbursed for their expenses.

Filing Of An Oath Of Office               
Oath of Office forms are official documents and must be executed prior to the time elected and appointed officers are designated to officially take office. Only those elected and appointed soil conservation district supervisors who have completed and filed an Oath of Office shall qualify for their elective and appointive positions.

Elected Supervisors
All newly elected soil conservation district supervisors must complete and file an Oath of Office which will cover the duration of their term of office to which they have been elected. The Secretary of State will furnish the Oath of Office forms which must be completed and returned to the Secretary of State’s office.

Appointed Supervisors      
Appointed supervisors must complete and file an Oath of Office annually since their appointment is for a term of one year only. The State Soil Conservation Committee will furnish the Oath of Office forms which must be completed and returned to the State Soil Conservation Committee office.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DISTRICT GOVERNING BODY -- The District Governing Body Must:   Be Enthusiastic - Instill Trust - Be Leaders The Soil Conservation District Supervisors are responsible for the success of the district in promoting a program to conserve and develop natural resources. Conservation district supervisors are the key to the success of the district. ND Century Code website:

I. District Supervisors shall:
*File an Oath of Office before being officially discharged with duties as a Soil Conservation District Supervisor.        
*Furnish to the State Soil Conservation Committee (SSCC), upon request, copies of any ordinances, rules, regulations, orders, contracts, or other documents they shall adopt or employ, and such other information concerning their activities as the SSCC may require.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-23)  
*Provide for the execution of surety bonds for all employees and officers. (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-24
*Provide for keeping of a full and accurate record of all proceedings, resolutions, regulations, and orders issued or adopted by them. (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-24)
*Maintain complete and accurate records of receipts and disbursements of the district and provide for an annual audit.  (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-24)
*Prepare an annual financial statement at the close of the business year and forward a copy to the SSCC.

II. District Supervisors Shall Have the Power To: 
* Appoint two additional supervisors.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-22)
* Employ temporary and permanent employees.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-23)      
* Seek legal services from the state’s attorney or the attorney general. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-23
* Conduct surveys, investigations and research.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)         
* Conduct demonstration projects.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)
* Carry out preventive and control measures within the district. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)             
* Cooperate or enter into agreements.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)        
* Obtain options upon or acquire real or personal property. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)    
* Make available machinery, equipment, seeds, and seedlings. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)
* Construct, improve and maintain structures.  (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)           
* Develop comprehensive plans for the conservation of soil resources. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)                
* Administer and act as agent for the United States in any soil erosion, erosion control, or erosion prevention project; accept donations, gifts and contributions in money, services, and materials. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)     
* Sue and be sued in the name of the district. (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)
* Have a seal. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)       
* Have perpetual succession. (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)
* Make and execute contracts. (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)
* Make, amend and repeal, rules and regulations. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)      
* Require contributions from beneficial operations performed by a district on lands not controlled by this state. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)            
* Expend moneys for education, promotion, and recognition activities. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26
* To levy taxes. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-26)    
* Formulate land use regulations. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-27 through N.D.C.C. 4-22-39)      
* District Supervisor Compensation. (N.D.C.C. 4-22-22)

III. Administrative Responsibilities: 
1. Attend and participate in regular monthly meetings and attend district functions.               
2. Keep the long range program current to meet total resource development needs of your district. The long range program should be reviewed annually. 
3. Develop an Annual Plan of Work which provides for carrying out action projects of highest priority that seek to accomplish the goals and objectives of the long range program. Refer regularly to the Annual Plan of Work to see that planned activities are carried out.
4. Be informed on the North Dakota Soil Conservation Districts Law and the administrative functions of the State Soil Conservation Committee (
N.D.C.C. 4-22-06 or SSCC section of this Handbook). Keep abreast of changes in the law, operational policies and program concepts of importance to the district. Seek financial assistance under provisions of the Districts Law. 
5. Set up committees to carry out the projects activities. Assign areas of responsibility to each board member and arrange for co-sponsors of district activities as appropriate.      
6. Develop district conservation needs and set district priorities in providing technical assistance to landowners and operators for a complete coordinated soil conservation program on their farms. Invite agencies assisting in carrying out the district program to meet with the District Board to consider mutual problems.  Keep these organizations and the general public informed of progress, objectives and district needs.
7. Develop a realistic annual budget and manage the funds of the district by anticipating project activities and board expenditures for the coming year. 
8. Maintain complete and accurate records of receipts and disbursements. (See district accounting procedures) 
9.Pay bills approved by the board and issue receipt for incoming funds.
10.Prepare an annual financial statement at the close of the business year and forward a copy to the SSCC.      
11. Be informed on activities and programs of your State Association, NACD, and the North Dakota Conservation District Employees Association.  Enlist assistance of your area directors and support the Auxiliary.  Promote attendance at national, state, and area meetings of your State Association and the National Association and keep informed on new programs, projects, and other information vital to districts.            
12.Carry out an aggressive information program directed to the non-farm public, as well as farm groups on resource development needs and progress and activities of the district.  This can be accomplished in part by printing and distributing annual reports, district newsletters, and by utilizing other news media. 
13. Support and promote soil conservation programs such as Soil Conservation Achievement Program, Soil Stewardship Week, Goodyear Awards Program, Zeneca Ag Products/NACD Conservation Education Recognition Program, the Dakota Farmer/NDASCD Soil Moisture Manager Awards Program, Conservation Camps, Professional, Layman and Communications Awards, local Chamber of Commerce, 4-H, FFA, Boy Scouts and other youth programs. 
14. Have an Annual District Awards Program to recognize superior accomplishments.
15. Conduct conservation tours, demonstrations, and sponsor educational meetings.
16. Cooperate with fellow board members in establishing district policies.
17. Keep informed on legislation and policy of local state and federal government pertaining to conservation problems. Keep local, state and national public officials informed of your conservation needs and accomplishments.

18. Know the functions of other agricultural agencies that operate in your district.
19. Remember the conservation district supervisor's obligations as a public official. Any supervisor who finds it is impossible to fulfill these obligations because of poor health, lack of time, or any other reason, should resign from office and make way for an individual who can perform effectively.

DISTRICT OFFICERS - During the board's January meeting, the board of supervisors should hold an election for the various district board's officers; chair; vice-chair; secretary; and treasurer; or secretary-treasurer. Each supervisor should welcome the opportunity to serve as one of the officers of the board and each supervisor should have an opportunity to rotate through the various offices at least once. This allows each supervisor the opportunity to become more familiar with each officer's responsibilities, to become more actively involved and to have a better understanding of the total programs of the district.

An active district chair is the key to a successful board of supervisors meeting, and it is the responsibility of the chair to accept the leadership role by motivating other board members, involving each member in the discussion of issues and programs of the district, starting meetings promptly and closing meetings after all business has been completed.

The State Soil Conservation Committee recommends that as a continuing policy, no one elected or appointed soil conservation district supervisor should serve as Chair of their district board for more than two consecutive years.

The Chair should meet with the District Staff and District Conservationist prior to the scheduled meeting and work out a tentative agenda which is sent to each board member and other individuals invited with their notification of the meeting and post notice of the meeting as required by law.  (N.D.C.C. 44-04-20)
(See Guidelines for Notices of Public Meetings)    

To review the rest of the District Operations complete section, please click on the following links. 

Expenses of District Supervisors This subsection also contains information on Supervisor Compensation, Guidelines for Notices of Public Meeting/ Board Meetings; How Soil Conservation Districts are Financed; Depositing of District Funds; District Accounting Procedure; Soil Conservation District Records; State/Federal Audit Requirements and Soil Conservation District Bonding.

Recommended Policy Guidelines for Expenditure of Soil Conservation District Funds for Promotion, Education, and Recognition Activities- This sub-section also contains the following information: Mill Levy Authority; Borrowing Money; Truth in Lending Law and Assignment of Payment.

Suggested Guideline for SCD Billing and Collection Policy - This sub-section also contains the following information: Small Claims Court; Liens; Taxation; Federal;  Bids/Contracts/Equipment; Buildings; District Reports and Due Dates  

Record Retention / Liabilities - This sub-section also contains the following information: Access to Soil Conservation District Records; Suggested Filing Guide for Districts; District Policy Guidelines; Liability; Legal Counsel; Bulk Mailing Permit; Licenses/ Motor Vehicle Act and Education and Information Program and Activities.

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