We all know that perfection is the enemy of progress.  How many times does that project around the house get stalled because you are waiting for everything to line up just right? I have always admired my dad, a life-long farmer, for his ability to get things done. I have affectionately joked that I may know how to get things done right, but my dad knows how to get things done! Progress. Farmers have never had the luxury of perfection. They have to feed the world.

When we are working with land managers to improve soil health, water quality, air quality, or habitat, we are thinking “progress,” not “perfection.”

Countless times, farm operators, landowners or land managers hesitate to contact the conservation district for help with an issue for fear of exposing weaknesses or problem areas. You might be thinking, “If they see that, they’ll make me fix it” when we would be thinking “maybe we can help improve it.”    

Consider a common example. A farm feeds a group of animals outdoors, creating a barnyard with plenty of manure and no more growing grass. The barnyard is close to a stream to which stormwater runoff carries excess nutrients and sediment. The farm would like to improve the situation but knows they can’t currently tackle a large project. They get anxious thinking what someone might force them to do if they open the door to outside input. It’s precisely at this point where critical decisions are made.  Do I accept the anxiety as normal or do I improve? It’s often at this point where land managers contact the conservation district for some perspective. And this is where we thrive.

Our perspective on natural resource management is improvement. Progress. Taking steps with the resources available. We know we don’t “arrive” in a day, a year, five years, or ever. Good land managers know they are on a long journey of improving and learn the art of being content knowing that they will never quite arrive during their tenure. We call the process Conservation Planning, and when we have the right perspective, how freeing it can be!  

When we begin planning improvements in situations like the one described above, a question close to the forefront is “how will I ever pay for big or new ideas?” An important question. But a question that can quench creativity. I’ve seen it more than a hundred times – when this question is set aside for a time, good plans come together, and good plans attract resources to implement them. Good plans are usually simple. Good plans are never implemented all at once, and they all started with a decision to simply take a step – to improve.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but that problem area you are dealing with – we won’t be surprised. We’ve seen it before.  e won’t make you fix it. But, watch out - you will run the risk of starting to believe that you could improve it.

The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely.  You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.