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What is RC&D?

RC&D is a local nonprofit organization led by local community leaders. It’s the community-driven collaboration and communication that goes on between all these pieces of RC&D that make it work. From Washington, DC down to a couple people brainstorming over collard greens and ice tea, the RC&D network is a powerful way to help people change their communities for the better.

RC&D programs help people protect and develop their economic, natural, and social resources in ways that improve their area's economy, environment, and quality of life. Local RC&D Councils provide a way for people to plan and implement projects that will make their communities a better place to live. They bring together people, needs, concerns, opportunities, and solutions.

How Does the RC&D Work?

The Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Program is an exciting partnership between the federal government and a local nonprofit organization led by local community leaders.  To help you understand how RC&D works in this partnership, the following information explains the RC&D program, the RC&D area, the RC&D Council, and the relationships and responsibilities of each. 

The Whole Picture

RC&D started back in the 1960’s to address rural poverty and help rural communities generate sustainable natural resource-based economies.  Although today, many RC&D areas are not rural and are not poor, the need for the RC&D program is just as strong as ever.  RC&D is not the same-old, same-old – RC&D is collaborative, multi-level, action-oriented, and inclusive.  Sometimes, “RC&D” is difficult to explain and quantify. However, the RC&D approach is to engage local people and organizations to collaboratively solve community problems through a series of locally-driven projects completed in RC&D areas across the country.

The RC&D Area

RC&D areas are locally-sponsored areas designated by the Secretary of Agriculture for RC&D technical and financial assistance.  In the Jackson Purchase RC&D Area there were several founding members that worked on the RC&D application, which was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture in 1998.  The Jackson Purchase RC&D Area includes the following counties:  Ballard, Carlisle, Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken.

The RC&D Council

The RC&D Council is the heart of the RC&D concept.  The Council is a membership-based nonprofit entity that is established and run by volunteers to carry out the mission of the RC&D.  The Council is composed of members that are key community leaders in land conservation, water management, environmental enhancement, and community development.

The RC&D Council members need to be action-oriented volunteers and leaders that help the Council address needs in the community through good planning and project implementation.  In this “make it happen” style, the Council also periodically evaluates its progress on the Area Plan and gathers input from the community. 

The RC&D Council's Board of Directors

The Board of Directors manage the affairs of the RC&D Council as an incorporated 501(c)(3).  The Board formally approves the Area Plan, mission, policies, budget, and projects.  Board members have legal and fiduciary responsibilities including: Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, and Duty of Obedience. Essentially, the Board of Directors ensures that the organization is well-managed and running properly in order to obtain the objectives of the RC&D Council.

Can anyone be involved in RC&D?

Yes. ANYONE...

  •  who believes that one person can make a difference.
  • who wants to be involved in making things happen in their community, county, region or state.
  • who wants to see natural resources utilized without adversely affecting the environment.
  • who wants to improve the quality of life in their community

Your local RC&D offers many opportunities for you to get involved and make things happen. It doesn't matter if you live in the city or the country; or if you are a business owner or a housewife; there's always a place for you in RC&D. They are constantly seeking private citizens, businesses, and organizations to become members of committees or to participate in planning projects, identifying priorities, or just helping with one activity.

If you are presently involved in a community project, seek out the RC&D. They may be able to provide you with technical assistance or funding, or put you in touch with private and public organizations, which can help you reach its goals. You may want to consider working with the RC&D to start new projects in your community or region.

What type of assistance does an RC&D provide for a project?

RC&Ds identify agencies or organizations that can assist in completing each step of the project plan, to serve as sources of technical assistance and to provide financial resources if needed. RC&Ds provide the vehicle for achieving a goal and completing projects. However, a project is not an "RC&D project" in the sense that an RC&D does everything. Local leadership and support are key elements for any successful project.

Types of assistance available include:

  • identifying potential funding sources

  • working with grants

  • serving as a conduit for "pass-through" grants

  • helping with grant administration

  • organizing events

  • hiring multi-county employees

  • conducting tours and educational events

  • serving as an umbrella organization for new non-profits and foundations

  • coordinating technical assistance

  • conducting research

  • coordinating mailings

  • conducting information campaigns

The amount and kind of assistance depends on the type of project and the Council's wishes.

What can RC&Ds do that other organizations can't?

Within an RC&D, you can do anything the local people want to do as long as it fits within the Council's long range plans and goals for the area. For example, an RC&D can:

  • create a park

  • provide a community facility

  • open a tourist attraction

  • correct erosion problems

  • work on water quality issues

  • promote local industry

  • build a timber bridge

  • provide funding for rural emergency medical services and equipment

  • preserve a historical site

  • promote use of modern telecommunications technology in rural areas

  • provide animal waste technical assistance

  • develop a wildlife habitat restoration or wetland education area

  • build a greenway trail

  • stabilize a storm water channel

  • provide funding for windbreak projects

RC&Ds are not entities of government; therefore the usual policies and constraints of local, state, and federal government programs do not limit them in the kinds of issues they decide to address or how they decide to do it. Local people on the Council determine the types of concerns, projects and activities in which they will become involved. RC&Ds lean towards projects that have not (or cannot) be addressed by other entities such as their Conservation Partners (SWCDs, NRCS, CES, etc.).