NEW Solutions is grateful for the people who work with the program to make it so effective and worthwhile for many, many reasons. We celebrate those individuals every day quietly, humbly and with great admiration for them. The following article is about one of those wonderful people – an ACES Enrollee that works for the NRCS Office in Colorado at the Denver Federal Center – Mary Mondragon!!
Mary’s Monitors are greatly appreciative of her work as an ACES Enrollee. Jill Redwine was more than happy to add: “Mary has been a tremendous asset in the Budget Finance arena assisting with a broad scope of knowledge. Her infectious personality and the knowledge she has been able to pass on to younger employees has been a great benefit to Natural Resources Conservation Service. She serves as an exemplary example of a seasoned employee being willing and able to give back to the agency and share her unique skill set.”
We’ve asked Mary to give us responses to our questionnaire about her experiences, and she graciously provided us with the answers below:
Before joining the ACES Program, what did you do? How did that experience help prepare you for the duties assigned to you in the ACES Program now?
“I retired from Anadarko Petroleum in March of 2016. I spent 35 years in the oil and gas industry with my most recent assignment as a Spatial Data Manager, Spatial Data is the data or information that identifies the geographic location of features and boundaries. For oil and gas companies this would be wells, roads, utility lines, compressor stations, etc., using surveyors and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) equipment. My “boots on the ground” meetings with surface owners to discuss locations of wells and roads helped prepare me by providing a solid understanding of the importance of water, soil, boundaries, wildlife mitigation and cultural significance. My current assignment as a Financial and Program Analyst, funded under the Farm Bill and the various programs and activities associated with these programs expands my broad base knowledge. One of the wildlife biologists that I used for many years in the Powder River Basin worked with me to develop wildlife clearances that was of great benefit not only for the company I worked for but for the Bureau of Land Management as well. We received an award from the Buffalo BLM office for our oversight of environmental impact process.”
How did you learn about the ACES Program?
“My sister-in-law has worked for many years at the EPA and provided me with the ACES program information when I retired.”
Describe the types of things you do at NRCS on a routine day.
“I currently assist the financial and program department reporting to the State Conservationist. I am responsible for utilizing the Financial Management Modernization Initiative (FMMI) database which provides users with a single interface for viewing financial data within the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). I run payroll reports, status of funds reports, budget accountability control reports, and allocation reports using the FMMI system. These reports are utilized to ensure budgets are on track and staff is billing the correct funds for their day to day assignments. As a degreed Paralegal I understand the importance of agreements and contracts. Agreements and contracts drive the funding aspect of our programs. It is interesting to review the contract and understand the responsibilities of all involved parties.”
If applicable, tell us about a “special circumstance” or occasion you had to “rise to” in order to get the job done.
“Becky Ross assigned a project that looked at the overall employee headcount nationwide. I had to review each state and provide feedback in terms of available budgets and head count. It was a great geography lesson again tying back to my spatial data days.
What do you enjoy most about the ACES Program?
“I currently work a twelve (12) hour work week which allows me to also volunteer at the Foodbank associated with my parish. I am also a volunteer high school cross country coach. My flexible schedule allows me to meet these current volunteer activities. My prior job experience was not as involved in the accounting aspect of running a business so this has been a wonderful expansion of my work experience. The work at the foodbank ties nicely into the value of our farmers and soils and natural resources. My cross country coaching allows me to work on my running times which is my favorite hobby.”
What, if anything, is most challenging about your duties/position?
“Understanding how headquarters in DC ties to the field offices is challenging at times. We rely heavily on headquarters for certain information and sit tight until it is available.”
Anything you’d like to mention that I haven’t asked about?
“NRCS Staff, Jill Redwine and Randy Randall are exceptional people and make my workday pleasant.”
If you like, briefly mention some favorite hobbies, past times or outside interests you enjoy when not working at work.
“I mentioned my volunteering above. I love cross country and running in general. I ran my first 10K race in October of 1977 and am still at it. The Federal Center hosts a 5K race every spring. I ran with my dad (IRS special engineer) and won this race in 1988 and in 2017 and 2019 I placed first in my age group. I am running for a board seat for the City of Northglenn Parks and Rec department this month, I have 7 grandchildren, I am in a book club and am an avid reader. I am the driver coordinator for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church’s foodbank. We serve about 300 clients per week. My husband and I just returned from Grand Cayman which is our favorite vacation destination.”