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Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District

Conservation Districts

Conservation Districts were created nationwide as a response to the Dust Bowl that occurred in the late 1930's and early 1940's. The Dust Bowl was a result of non-sustainable farming practices that heavily impacted the land and therefore soil conservation became the focus of these local groups, as well as the newly created federal agency, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), known today as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Conservation districts were formed in Florida as a subdivision of state government under the Florida Soil Conservation Act of 1937, governed by Chapter 582 of the Florida Statutes to implement locally led conservation

Conservation Districts and the NRCS work closely with each other, sharing resources and personnel, and usually office space, to accomplish the goal of conservation at a local level.  The actual work performed by a conservation district depends on local needs.  The work is directed by an elected board of supervisors who meet monthly to discuss and direct District activities.  Traditionally the board of supervisors (for Districts nationwide) has been composed of members of the agricultural community, though more recently District boards are comprised of members from diverse backgrounds, particularly in urban areas. Conservation Districts and the NRCS are non-regulatory agencies functioning to provide assistance to farmers and the public in general to accomplish conservation goals. Manatee County Government has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the MRSWCD by providing staff and technical assistance.

The Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District serves Manatee County.

A Brief History of the District

The Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District (MRSWCD) was chartered by the State of Florida on April 5, 1945 and recorded and established by the Secretary of State on May 15, 1945.

The District Board of Supervisors entered into an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, whereby the USDA/NRCS provides technical information and experienced conservation personnel to the district.  Manatee County Government has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the MRSWCD by providing staff and technical assistance.

Supervisors meet regularly on the second Monday night of each month at the Manatee Extension Office in Palmetto.

Services Provided in partnership with USDA/NRCS and Manatee County Government

District Events: Coordinate annual speech contest, Envirothon, land judging and farm tour for students and area residents and visitors.

Natural Resource Information: Access to recent and historical aerial maps, topography maps, and soil maps.

USDA Soil Survey Distribution: Soil surveys used for development and crops are available. Soil survey information for many areas may now be found online at

Develop Conservation Plans on land used for agriculture: The plans recommend Best Management Practices for protecting resources.

Available USDA/NRCS Farm Bill Programs:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and others.

Begin by visiting your local NRCS field office and requesting help developing a conservation plan. To learn about technical and financial assistance available from NRCS, go to Getting Started with NRCS.  The Manasota Service Center serves Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte Counties. District Conservationist Israel Vega-Marrero may be reached by e-mail   or phone (941) 907-0011 Extension 3143.


Board Members 

Board Members are non-partisan elected officials who serve four year terms.

Paul Howard -Chairman, Registered Agent, Group 4, Term expires 1/23

John J. O’Connor, Jr.-Vice-Chairman, Group 1, Term expires 1/21 

Callon (Buddy) C. Keen, Jr.- Supervisor, Group 5, Term expires 1/21

Ben King- Treasurer, Group 2, Term expires 1/23* appointed until next General Election 2020

Julie DeLesline Tillett -Supervisor, Group 3, Term expires 1/21* appointed until next General Election 2020

Contact us:

Manatee River SWCD
6942 Professional Parkway East
Sarasota, FL  34240


Administrative Specialist Angela Bright

Financial information:

The MRSWCD does not impose taxes, fees, assessments or charges.

The fiscal year period is: October 1 through September 30.

2020 Adopted Budget and previous budgets are available in 'MRSWCD Documents' tab.

Annual financial report may be found here:

Ethics information:

Florida Commission on Ethics website

Manatee County Parks & Natural Resources/Agriculture and Extension Service/Soils Unit staff:

Christine Russo     Soil Conservation Planner

Gail Somodi                Soil Conservation Supervisor

Manatee Extension Service Soils Unit page: 

Other special district websites, including other Soil and Water Conservation District websites, may be found here: