- co·op′er·a′tor n. – a person who works together in an activity toward a common interest or purpose.
Districts have a close working relationship with their cooperators. These are landowners and managers who agree to use conservation planning on their land. In turn, the districts offer special services, such as soil testing and forage studies.
Delta Farm Forum
Each March, Salcha-Delta SWCD partners with Cooperative Extension Service to offer one of the premier landowner education events in the state. Speakers on a variety of subjects deliver reports, including research results. Some 250 people attended the 2015 Delta Farm Forum on February 21, 2015.
Educating cooperators and other landowners about available conservation programs is an important part of SWCD outreach. This includes participation in NRCS programs, such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Districts also encourage participation in other programs, such as trials of forage species, soil and forage testing, and conservation tillage. SWCD staff also provides wetland determination and planning, with help from NRCS, and other conservation-related planning. Some Districts hold special events designed to train cooperators, potential cooperators and other landowners about available programs and special opportunities. Fairbanks took the initiative to hire a natural resources technician to help develop and implement agricultural programs including soils, weeds, erosion, nutrients and water quality. Fairbanks SWCD has also supported the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Conference with sponsorships. Fairbanks SWCD also sponsored a local work group meeting to gather from local cooperators, agency representatives and others the needs for and recommendations on various conservation programs.
Open houses, barbecues, harvest dinners and other social events offer Districts a chance to interact with their cooperators, partners and volunteers, thank them for their work and strengthen that relationship. Wasilla SWCD holds a cooperator-volunteer picnic and a holiday open house each year. Fairbanks SWCD holds a harvest dinner each fall for cooperators and partners, and it also helps sponsor the Potato Extravaganza, which promotes regional agriculture.
Sales of trees, shrubs and other conservation plants not only provides low-cost plantings for cooperators and other local landowners, they give Districts a chance to provide information about conservation practices. Districts encourage landowners to plant windbreaks and wildlife habitat species on their land to help with erosion control, reforestation, windbreaks and invasive plant management. Participating Districts include Salcha-Delta and Fairbanks.