Soil & Water In The News


Yarborough Honored at Statewide Meeting

Bill Yarborough is used to getting applause. After all, he frequently speaks to audiences and has also won numerous awards for his work in conservation. But the award he received two weeks ago in Greensboro, “Outstanding Conservation District Supervisor,” was different.

It came from an organization largely made up of employees from the 96 soil and water conservation districts across North Carolina — the N.C. District Employees Association. Yarborough serves on the Board of Supervisors for the Haywood District, but his leadership obviously extends beyond these mountains to inspire district employees in every part of the state.

Soil and water conservation districts are each led by a five-member board of supervisors. While it’s not uncommon for employees to know some of the supervisors who lead neighboring districts, only a few supervisors are known across the state. But then, few supervisors come close to the passionate involvement that Yarborough demonstrates on a daily basis. Never mind that Yarborough’s position as regional agronomist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services keeps him busy — he was named State Employee of the Year for outstanding state service in 2006 and in 2009, appointed special assistant to the Commissioner of Agriculture.

Yarborough, while a very active member of the Haywood SWCD Board of Supervisors, has never limited his vision to only Haywood County. He has also served as chairman of the Area 1 Association of SWCD’s (16 districts) and sits on the N.C. Soil and Water Commission Board, which is the policy and rule-making board for all state soil and water conservation programs.

Thirty-one years ago, Haywood SWCD held its first conservation field day at the Mountain Research Station. Since then, over eighteen thousand students have attended the field days that none other than Yarborough helped start while working through the District as the (USDA) District Conservationist. Local streams and rivers are less polluted because Yarborough played a role in getting a local sediment control office established. Years ago, the banks of the Waynesville Watershed, source of water for the Town of Waynesville, were stabilized by planting grasses, legumes and white pines that kept erosion in check, thanks to input from Yarborough. And sometimes it’s what we don’t see that is a source of pride for Yarborough, when what’s missing is increased development that eats away acres of farmland, replacing valuable soil and the food it could produce with concrete parking lots.

Some might consider the victories gained through years of hard work and think about slowing down; however, Yarborough shows no shortage of ideas or energy in focusing on the needs of the agricultural community or the urgency of conserving our natural resources, both dear to his heart. One would be hard pressed to name an agricultural or conservation-related organization he does not belong to – or lead as a board member.

The employees attending the Greensboro meeting, members of the N.C. District Employees Association, were there to sharpen the skills needed to be effective at the work they do, whether with farmers, in district offices or in education. The fact that employees in any given field are all acquainted with Bill Yarborough and his efforts is proof enough of his enthusiasm and leadership, whether encouraging districts to develop more effective web sites, working tirelessly to promote an important grain sorghum project or traveling to Burlington to volunteer at the State Envirothon with 500 students from across the state. The real question, rather than why Yarborough was named Outstanding District Supervisor, may well be how he could not be honored as such? Yarborough makes things happen and for people who require food and clean water — and that’s each one of us — he has made things better. In these challenging times, that is no small thing.

November 2011–Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District sponsors FFA Land Judging event by Gail Heathman | Nov 04, 2011
For many years, the event has been sponsored by Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District, with help from its federal partner agency Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Kent Clary, NRCS Area Soil Scientist, decides the factors such as placement of the soil pits. Tuscola’s VoAg instructors John Best and Beth Ross are closely involved in organizing the event, with this year’s competition held on the William Duckett Farm near Crabtree.


October 2011 —Tommy and Vicky Porter were recently recognized at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo October 18-20, 2011.  Tommy is an Associate Supervisor with the Cabarrus Soil and Water Conservation District.  Vicky serves as a Supervisor with the District and also as the Governor’s at large appointee to the Soil and Water Conservation Commissin.  See article at

September 2011: John Langdon, Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, recognized in the National Hog Farmer magazine.  Article can be found at  Langdon was recognized by the NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts as North Carolina’s Conservation Farm Family in 2010.