Please allow us to present Kevin Guinn, our super ACES-NRCS Enrollee from Ephrata, WA. Kevin is an ACES-NRCS Enrollee Rangeland Specialist that does research and develops ecological site descriptions (ESDs) alongside the wonderful NRCS Staff in the state of Washington.
Kevin’s Monitor Carri Gaines has wonderful things to say about Kevin. She wanted everyone to know: “Kevin’s experience and knowledge of the Eastern Washington rangelands have been an irreplaceable asset to developing our range ecological site descriptions. His unwavering work ethic and focus has allowed us to meet our goals for developing ecological site descriptions. We also tap Kevin to provide training to our brand-new employees in the central area on their local rangeland health and ecological functions.” She also added “I enjoy his practical and good-humored approach to the work process. We could not have accomplished this workload without him!”
At the end of Kevin’s 40-year career with the USDA, he was a State Rangeland Management Specialist for NRCS Washington. Kevin provided statewide leadership, training opportunities, and partnering with other state and federal agencies. He also was the lead for two programs – Sage Grouse Initiative and Conservation Reserve Program. Prior to that Kevin spend 35 years working with ranchers, NRCS Staff and other agencies to implement a wide array for range management and wildlife practices.
Kevin added: “For 40 years I poked around trying to understand rangeland landscapes and the changes that happen as a result of disturbances or management actions. This was the perfect training ground for my work through ACES.”
National Experience Workforce Solutions is certainly honored that you feel that way Kevin!
It was interesting how Kevin found out about the ACES Program, but his words echo the words of many of our ACES group. Before retiring at NRCS he was approached by his then-boss Bonda Habets, to work on writing ecological site descriptions for Eastern Washington. He accepted the challenge and started his ACES career very soon after retiring.
Kevin works to classify and describe native habitats including shrub steppe (ecosystem of low-lying shrubs, low rainfall, etc.) and grasslands. Ecological sites are based on the soil, landform, geology, and climate. Each ecological site produces a distinctive kind and amount of vegetation and has a characteristic response to management actions or natural disturbances such as wildfire. This work is especially useful for NRCS staff, ranchers and other agencies as each ecological site indicates potential and limitations and provides insights into the changes that may occur to plant communities.
The minimum for the project he is working on falls way below what the field staff requires for doing their work. From day one with ACES program his goal had been to provide NRCS field staff with a much more useful product than they had before.
In April, all Federal Agencies, as well as NRCS was under strict travel guidelines due to the pandemic, however training sessions for the Conservation Reserve Program were still essential. Kevin was asked to put on the training session at Ephrata so that the training could be completed successfully. He provided one training for NRCS staff, and one training for the Conservation District staff. This took him away from his regular project, but Kevin said it was a pleasure to help.
When asked what he enjoys the most about the ACES Program and what keeps his interest in working, he replied that he loves being connected to the NRCS Staff that he had worked with for so many years. His work on ecological sites is keeping him in the range management arena, which he is so obviously great at!
When asked what is the most challenging about his duties, he replied that a team of NRCS staff review and provide input to his work. Each one has a strong plant ecology background. No one knows everything, so this technical team is vital for producing the best possible product. This team has provided great input, made numerous corrections, and helped his work be more accurate. The challenge is that everyone on his team is terribly busy, and his project in not normally on their “to do list”. Essentially, everyone on his team takes time away from their workload for his project. (We have a feeling that this gate swings both ways!)
Outside of work Kevin is active in his church, and along with another fellow he oversees all the children’s activities. He likes to go on hiking adventures and has walked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada – and hopes to thru-hike other long-distance trails in the future!! He feels life is simple on the trail – water, food, staying on the right trail, taking care of one’s body, finding a place to camp. And he feels the best part is that he has met people from all over the world! He enjoys sharing the beauty of the outdoors with anyone interested – which is perfect for the work he has done for a good portion of his life!
We feel so fortunate to have a great person such as Kevin working in our ACES-NRCS Program in the state of Washington – a tribute to the work they do each and every day! Thank you, Kevin, for being such an integral part of the ACES-NRCS Program!!