The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts recently announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Michael Woods. Woods joins the association with experience in conservation ranging from his farming background to Extension work, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this new position, Woods says he is excited to work with policy leaders and agencies across the state.
“We want to have those vibrant environments across our entire state. We also know that Illinois’ number one industry is agriculture. We have 32 million acres of land and across the entire state. Of that 32 million, 27 million are roughly dedicated to the agricultural industry in general. And then of that, 27 million, 23 million are dedicated to our low crop production,” says Woods. “What we need to do is work together to ensure that those industries are vibrant, healthy, and contributing to the overall healthy satisfaction environment of our community.”
Under new leadership, the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts hope to remind people in 2024 of the role conservation plays in food production as well as set tactical goals to achieve conservation strategies. Wood shares more of the Association’s goals for the 2024 Legislative Session after a successful 2023.
“This year, what we’re really focusing on is celebrating that success. Putting into action that request we had to focus on soil health, using organizational activities like STAR, which is called Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources,” says Woods. “We’re partnering with the Department of Ag and the Association, to help elevate opportunities to engage producers to implement more conservation practices across the 23 million acres. So that’s one of the things we’re really looking at doing. We’re also trying to cultivate a renewed culture of conservation.”
On top of Legislative priorities, Woods says he hopes to strengthen the Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the states.