What's Up at the USDA Office?

Ben Cottrell ...
Ben Cottrell ...

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
May 14: CRP Mid-Contract Management
May 15 - August 1: Primary Nesting Season
June 2: ERP Phase 2
June 2: PARP
July 15: Spring Crop Reporting

submitted by Ben Cottrell, District Conservationist, Waukon
Hello conservationists. I am Ben Cottrell, the new District Conservationist for Allamakee County in the Waukon Field Office. I grew up in a small town in Northeast Missouri that is very similar to this area in many ways. Across the county from the river to the cropland and from the timber ground to the pastureland, I feel right at home. I may be a new face for the field office but I moved to the area three years ago.  My career with the federal government started right after high school when I enlisted in the Marine Corps.  After the military, I attained a degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia, or Mizzou. During my time at Mizzou, I studied abroad to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland learning about their agricultural systems and farming methods.

My first experience with NRCS was through an internship in college. After that summer, I started my last semester of college working as an Earth Team Volunteer for the Missouri NRCS State Office as a capstone class project to redesign the grain handling system at the Plant Materials Center in Elsberry, MO. The experience gained in college with NRCS helped me get a Soil Conservation Technician job in rural Northwest Missouri.  Since becoming a technician, I have held several District Conservationist positions across Minnesota and Iowa ultimately leading me where we are today.

As mentioned before, my wife and I moved to the community about three years ago and have really enjoyed everything that this area has to offer. We recently purchased the family farm in Minnesota that has been in the family since 1866. The farm has the biggest patch of remnant native prairie in the county.  Restoration of the degraded sites is something we have been focusing a lot of our efforts on lately. Managing for wildlife, and native plant communities are some of our biggest concerns.  Grazing with wildlife in mind has presented some challenges, but we are learning every day what works better for our land. On our farm we actively apply/practice most of the management practices we offer assistance on at the local field office. Take care of the land and it will take care of you.

I look forward to all that Allamakee County has to offer and I am excited about starting the next chapter in my career with NRCS. Stop in the office to introduce yourself and see how we can help!