Perkins County FSA nationally recognized for outreach programs in 2017
for The Fence Post
The Nebraska Farm Service Agency was well-represented in Washington this year at the Administrator’s Award for Service in Agriculture this past November. The top honor was presented to the Perkin’s County (Neb.) FSA office in recognition of their outstanding customer service and accomplishments through educational outreach programs. On behalf of the Perkin’s County office, Teri Moss traveled to Washington to accept the award.
“This is the highest award that management for the FSA can receive,” said Teri Moss, Perkin’s County FSA Office executive director. “We were all really excited to receive this big honor. It was unfortunate that the whole office could not go since it has been a group effort.”
The Perkin’s Office has implemented several outreach programs to involve the community and inform them about the resources available through the FSA. Perkin’s County Women Involved in Agriculture Day is just one of many events held annually in Grant, Neb.
“We have some great programs that everyone joins in on, not only the local FFA and 4-H programs but also the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Grant Service Center,” Moss added. “We host some of our events at the new NRCS International Wheat Center. It promotes the new facility while getting everyone involved. We have had a very positive response from those partnerships.”
Moss is a long-time employee of the Nebraska FSA, starting as early as age 16. Living across the street from the Oshkosh, Neb., FSA office provided Moss with the opportunity to measure bins and land a summer job.
“My parents owned a motel when I was growing up, and I had worked there for as long as I could remember, so when the opportunity to work outside came up I jumped at it,” Moss said. “Over my career I have seen every aspect of the FSA, from a field reporter to an executive technician and aerial compliance photographer, I have tried my hand at it all.”
STARTED AS A TEEN
Moss started in Garden County as a teenager until moving to Morrell County to work in aerial compliance. She then worked in Garden County as a field technician for 21 years until she entered the county office training program 12 years ago.
“I went to different offices across the state, starting in the North Platte office and moving all over the state,” Moss said. “I was hired in Chase County as the county director where I stayed for five years until the Perkins County position opened. I have been here for the past six years.”
The most important part of working at the Perkins County FSA is providing an outstanding experience for the customers who step in the office. They also work hard to inform the community about the benefits of the agricultural market in Nebraska.
“One thing I love about the FSA is working with people, both the farmers and staff to promote agriculture,” Moss said. “I think it is really important for a whole community to be aware of how much a small community economy is driven by the agricultural community.”
Once a new farm bill is implemented, Moss and her staff will work to help producers better understand their options. Their main objective is to show farmers all those options, without giving advice as to what they should choose. “We show them all their options, so they can make the best decision for their operation,” Moss said. “Every operation is different for how it is managed, so it is hard to make a blanket statement about which option they should choose.”
Armed with a great staff, the Perkins County office makes each farmers’ visit friendly and efficient.
“Without the entire staff, this award would not have been possible,” Moss said. “We have a lot of community programs and we try to co-op with other organizations such as the Methodist Church to help with projects.”
Prior to Moss’s move to Perkins County, the office started a community garden. This grew extensively in 2012 to six community plots.
“We also have a lunch and learn series during the summer, particularly during gardening time, where people can bring their lunch and we have a program,” Moss said. “We have had programs on honey bees, with a master gardener and everything in between.”
The Perkin’s county office is located in district five. For an office to win at a national level, they must first win in their state and region before moving on. Individuals and offices must first be nominated before applying for these awards in their state.
“Erin Clason, our district director, challenged our district to look at everyone and work hard to fill the nominations,” Moss said. “When you look, it is easy to find people deserving of recognition. We are challenging our office to nominate another deserving office for this award next year.”
With so many incredible individuals working across the state for the USDA, it is only natural to recognize those who deserve it. The nomination process takes time, but Clason said it is well worth it to see all the good going on in the agency.
“As a district we try to promote team work, not just in our district but across the whole state,” Clason said. “We try to erase county lines and look at our FSA offices from a customer service standpoint internally. We are a family and we like to recognize those who are outstanding in their field.”
According to the USDA, the mission of the FSA is “equitably serving all farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans.” Clason said Nebraska FSA does a phenomenal job of accomplishing this mission through both outreach and collaboration.
“The outreach programs the Perkins county office provides leads to their exceptional customer service,” Clason added. “The producers are educated but so is the local community. They work with other offices seamlessly to promote their programs and the USDA.”
Clason appreciates the effort all the elite employees of FSA offices across the state put in day in and out. The FSA not only has some of the best employees, but under it all they are good people as well.
“They are all role models for the good in the agency on a national level and promotion of the USDA,” Clason said. “It is the people that make the agency work and ultimately fulfill its mission.”
Everyone in the Perkins office has mentored other FSA staff over the years to pass on their experience. Everyone does their best to understand what it is like from all sides of the desk, more than just from where they sit.
“All the recognition goes to the staff at this office, they do an excellent job of taking care of everyone,” Moss said. “They all have a good understanding of the programs we are administering and relaying to the farmers. I truly love my job and the people I get to work with every day.”
Complete list of Nebraska FSA award recipients:
– FSA Lifetime Achievement Award
o Jay Schroeder, FLM – Dodge County (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
o Sally Henderson, FLS – State Office (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
– FSA Newcomer or Novice of the Year Award
o Jennifer Soncksen – Dawson County (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
– Civil Rights Leadership Award
o Matthew Meyer, FLM – Dawson County (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
– Supervisor of the Year Award
o Erin Clason, DD – State Office (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
– Outstanding Team Accomplishment
o Enterprise Data Warehouse Team (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
• Tyler Gilkey, Specialist – State Office
o Influencing Excellence Leadership Training Team (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
• Mike Eller, DD – State Office
– Outstanding Accomplishment in Outreach
o Perkins County (Stage 3 2017 AASA Winner)
• Teresa Moss, CED
• Deb Hutsell, PT
• Rita Wallin, Key PT
• Jami Shaw, PT
• Ashley Colglazier, COC
• Donald Hajek, COC
• Darin Robertson, COC ❖
— King is a freelance writer from Oakland, Neb., and a graduate student at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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