National women s history month march 2005
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National Women’s History Month March 2005. Women in Natural Resources Conservation Service History.

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National Women’s History Month March 2005

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National Women’s History Month March 2005

Women in Natural Resources Conservation Service History


“Since society as a whole depends on the produce of the land for its present and future existence, society as a whole must share in the responsibility and costs of maintaining land in a productive state.”Hugh Hammond Bennett


On the national scene

  • In March of 1864, nearly two years after the creation of the USDA, the Commissioner received authority to employ women as clerks.

  • The first female employee of the Soil Erosion Service (predecessor to the SCS) was Lillian H. Wieland. She served as secretary to Hugh Hammond Bennett.


Changing perspectives….

  • Back in the early 1960s, Marjory McTavish, area clerk at Butte, MT, recalls driving a government vehicle into a gas station where the attendant demanded to know “Does the government let women drive their cars?”

  • Legal changes in the 1960s and 1970s began to open more opportunities for women.


Legal changes

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited sex discrimination in employment.

  • Executive orders 11246 and 11487 required federal agencies to develop affirmative action plans.

  • The Equal Employment Act of 1972 required agencies to write EEO plans.


Changing perspectives

  • By 1975, the agency had made some progress improving the women’s representation in the middle grades. That same year, Roberta Stevenson became the first woman DC in Welton, Arizona.

  • By the early 1990s, several women had become national specialists in their disciplines.


Today’s Landscape

  • Today females are part of nearly every aspect of the agency, serving as biologists, cartographers, civil and agricultural engineers, agronomists, geologists, and botanists.

  • In return, NRCS has gained strength in its diversity, becoming better able to meet the challenges of an ever changing world.


How does NRCS Maine compare to the rest of the country?

Maine NRCS is 29% Women as of the end of FY 2004.

  • Nationally, NRCS is 32% Women

  • The Federal Workforce is 43.8% women

  • The Civilian Labor Force is 46.6% women


National distribution of NRCS employees by category ( GS data from national AEP 2003)


National NRCS employee distribution by GS level (as of 10/04)


First women in technical positions in SCS/NRCS, Maine


Sandy Field, Soil Scientist, Ellsworth 1971-1972


Pat Janssen, Soil Conservationist, 1975-1978


Mary Thompson, Civil Engineering Technician,

1985-1987


Pauline Pare, District Conservationist, 1986-1995, Lewiston Field Office


Dawn Genes,

RC&D Coordinator,

Time and Tide RC&D,

1987-1989


Candi Benwitz, Agricultural Engineer, 1990-


Sally Butler, Forester, IRT Staff 1999 -


Sandra Lary, Biologist, IRT Staff, 2000-2003


Susan Arrants, Resource Conservationist, State Office, 2001-


Joyce Swartzendruber, State Conservationist, 2004-


  • “Carrying out an effective nationwide soil conservation program is not a simple matter in a large country of diversified characteristics and interests.”

    • Hugh Hammond Bennett


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