Feb 172016

Alabama Association of RC&D Councils Annual Meeting

On May 2-4, Cawaco hosted the state conference at the Embassy Suites Birmingham. Thanks to all those who attended as well as the outstanding speakers!

Download or view AGENDA

Apr 032015

Cawaco was awarded the Alabama Association of Resource Conservation & Development Council’s  Project of the Year Award for 2014, for the “Tannehill Wastewater Treatment” project.

Read more about this project in the Spring Newsletter. Or go here.

We were very honored to be the recipient of this award, when there are so many worthwhile projects throughout the state to choose from!  We were excited to accept this award in the presence of one of our good friends and supporters, Senator Greg Reed.

 Posted by at 1:55 pm

Beginning Farmers Outreach Meetings Scheduled

 Cawaco Administration, Community  Comments Off on Beginning Farmers Outreach Meetings Scheduled
Mar 092015

Cawaco RC&D to host Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Outreach Meetings.

Cawaco is partnering with USDA/NRCS and local Soil & Water Conservation Districts to host Beginning Farmer and Ranchers workshops in Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker Counties during FY 2015.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps farmers and ranchers use conservation to help the environment while improving agricultural operations. But not everyone knows about the variety of programs and services offered through USDA agencies like NRCS.

Cawaco is attempting to ensure the workshops are reaching landowners and rural citizens of different backgrounds. “Our goal is to extend our outreach to minority farmers and new farmers, and reach those potential customers that perhaps we have not made contact with before,” said Kellie Johnston, Executive Director for Cawaco RC&D.

To enhance outreach, Cawaco RC&D is hosting outreach meetings with other USDA agencies where farmers and landowners can meet with NRCS district conservationists to talk about their resource needs. In addition we are working to reach small and limited resource farmers and landowners who may be unfamiliar with the many programs and services of NRCS.

To find out about dates and locations, click here.

 Posted by at 10:26 am

Circle of Diamonds Tier II Awarded to Cawaco RC&D

 Cawaco Administration  Comments Off on Circle of Diamonds Tier II Awarded to Cawaco RC&D
Jan 122015

Cawaco RC&D is very excited to announce that we have been granted enhanced (Tier II) Circle of Diamonds membership by the National Association of Resource, Conservation & Development Councils in the National Circle of Diamonds Program, thus becoming one of only 25 RC&D Councils out of 375 nationwide to have qualified for this elite status!

The Circle of Diamonds program highlights the work that RC&D Councils perform in their communities and recognizes good stewardship of the local non-profit council in “Making Things Happen.” It is set up to be a proactive means for RC&D Councils to demonstrate that they are complying with best non-profit management practices and basic requirements of the RC&D statute (Public Law 107–171, Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Sections 1528-1537) .

By earning Tier II membership, Cawaco RC&D Council has clearly confirmed its ability to adhere to the high standards necessary for enhanced membership. It follows an array of governance, personnel, financial management, and planning policies and practices that ensure its effective action and transparent and honest administration.

 Posted by at 12:38 pm

Board Member Spotlight

 Cawaco Administration, Community  Comments Off on Board Member Spotlight
Oct 132014

Meet Judge Chris Green of Blount County. He serves on the Cawaco Board Personnel and Executive Committees.

Chris is both a Blount County Probate Judge and Commission Chairman. He has also served as the Blount County Revenue Commissioner and Blount County Administrator.

Chris loves to go fishing, especially along the Beautiful Locust Fork River.

He also enjoys music. ”I love to play the fiddle and often get together with friends for a little front porch music jam.” He says.  Chris is also active in his church and enjoys being the music leader at  First Baptist Church Cleveland, Alabama.

I asked Chris how he came to know Cawaco RC&D, and he told me, “I became involved with Cawaco while serving as the Blount County Administrator. I appreciate the fact that CAWACO is very involved in projects that preserve our environment and provide increased recreational opportunities for our citizens.”  He then added, “Cawaco has assisted in multiple projects to improve our County Parks such as; making our restrooms handicap assessable, providing for a special trail to identify native trees and roof repairs to park buildings just to name a few. Cawaco has also assisted in many projects for properly equipping our volunteer fire departments.”


 Posted by at 12:01 pm

Cawaco wins three State Awards

 Awards, Cawaco Administration, Community, Conference, Grant Success  Comments Off on Cawaco wins three State Awards
Jul 012014

Paul McCaleb, Outstanding Council Member


Cawaco RC&D Council Chairman Paul McCaleb won the McCarty Award for Outstanding Council Member of the Year during the Alabama State RC&D Council Annual Meeting held in Mobile on May 30.

Paul McCaleb recognized for the following contributions to Cawaco:

  • Cawaco’s budget grew from $25,000 per year (1992) to over $500,000 (2014).
  • The Council is audited on a yearly basis
  • Parks and Recreation were made top priority for the next 2 years
  • Cawaco is one of the most successful, strongest Councils in Alabama

Paul McCaleb has been actively involved as a Cawaco Council member for over 30 years.  He serves on the Executive Board of the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils, and attends all scheduled state and local meetings. Paul is well-known and respected throughout the region.  Utilizing his influence and contacts, he has been able to identify several impactful Council projects, including: Equipment for fire and police departments, procurement and maintenance of a trailer equipped with tools for trails building and maintenance [to be used by volunteers], and educational programs for schools throughout the region.  Recently he introduced Cawaco to the Administrative Assistant to the Mayor of Birmingham, in an effort to form an alliance to help revitalize underserved areas of North Birmingham.
His commitment to the environment extends to his personal projects, utilizing sustainable methods for managing his forest land, planting wildlife plots, and installation and management of long leaf pine.

Cawaco Program Manager Wins Two Awards


Programs Manager, Patti Pennington received Employee of the Year AND Appreciation for Outstanding Service from the Alabama Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils.  The awards were received at the State RC&D meeting, May 30th in Mobile, Alabama. 
The award for Outstanding Service was due to her support and leadership of the Electrathon Project.  Specifically, Patti was instrumental in developing the initial relationship with SKY as the program was beginning; nurturing the program and encouraging them to apply for Council grants.  The program provides hands-on education in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) to Calera High School students.  The program has moved from developing battery operated cars at Calera High School, which were donated and used as medical vehicles in Honduras, to a state wide competition that excites students to learn STEM skills while educating the public about alternative vehicles.
As Employee of the Year, Patti is in full charge of AARCDC program projects (challenge, education, and community development).  She brings an attitude of patience with grantees and nurtures their vision in service to others.  She is responsible for coordinating all public relations on behalf of the Council and does it in a way that elevates the Council in the eyes of the public.  In her administration duties, Patti also manages several successful Council projects: Seeds for Change, Tool Trailer for Trails and the River Kids Program. 

Board Member Spotlight

 Cawaco Administration, Community  Comments Off on Board Member Spotlight
Jul 012014

Fred Crawford  ALASKA1

Fred Crawford is the Economic Developer for Chilton County. As such, his responsibilities are to recruit business and to work with business to help them stay in Chilton County and/or expand.

Fred tells me he enjoys trying to get autographs on baseball cards, as well as autographs of baseball Hall of Fame players on baseballs.

His passion is to help the University of Montevallo and the American Village in any way he can. He hopes Cawaco will help make some dreams a reality through its grants program.

Fred says Cawaco was foreign to him until he was hired and took the position as Economic Developer, in June of 2012. He then found out about Cawaco by looking in the files of the Industrial Development Board. Fred tells me, “I thought Cawaco looked like a good thing to be involved in.”

Since then, Fred  has become a very active Board Member who ferrets out new projects and identifies areas of need in Chilton County.

I asked Fred what types of projects he is most interested in, and his response was, “Projects that interest me the most are the ones that get young people to think responsibly about in their life.”

He added, “The grants to the LeCroy Career Technical School and to Calera High School are the ones that I like best. The students are challenged by what they do and it makes them better people.” 

 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Dec 162013

Jefferson County Member At- Large

Jefferson County Member At- Large, Sheila Baker says she would like to see Cawaco become more self-sufficient.

Jefferson County Member At- Large, Sheila Baker says she would like to see Cawaco become more self-sufficient.

Board member Sheila Baker was raised in Bridgeport, CT and went to school at
UAB. She currently resides in Birmingham. Like many of us, she moved here to be
closer to her family.
When I asked Sheila what she likes most about Alabama, she replied, “I like the
feeling of being home. I love that the signs upon entering the state say, Welcome
to Alabama the Beautiful. I could go on and on about this.”

“The land is beautiful, whether it be rivers, farm land, the mountains, awesome beaches or the inner city streets. I also love how communities come together in the spirit of doing what is in the best interest for our communities.”

The only things Shelia doesn’t like about Alabama: Too many tornadoes and not enough snow. Sheila is employed as a Social Worker with Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging. She says she enjoys her job because she helps people become self-sufficient by empowering them.

Sheila has been on the Cawaco Board since 2007, when working in the same building with the Cawaco staff, she became intrigued by RC&D. RC&D, she realized, went hand in hand with her own beliefs of self-empowerment. She is most appreciative of the Cawaco project that helped to bridge the digital divided between seniors and the rest of their community. “It is awesome to see seniors using the internet to keep in contact with their families, receive and sending
pictures of grandkids and great-grandkids or to complete a job application on-line.” she said. One thing that Sheila finds disturbing is the lack of healthy food choices for the elderly and lower-income individuals. “If healthy foods were affordable, people would be more inclined to eat healthy. But how many can realistically afford to eat healthy when the cost is so much greater than purchasing cheaper,
processed food?”

When I asked her what she would like to see Cawaco do, she said “I would like to see Cawaco become completely self-sufficient. I envision us as having income that is generated for our community projects earned by ventures from us. I know it’s good business sense and in my heart of hearts I know we will make this great achievement especially with the leadership that we have in the Staff and our Board Members.”
Among Sheila’s many hobbies and interests, she enjoys reading, cooking and traveling

 Posted by at 12:52 pm

Cawaco moves to new office space!

 Cawaco Administration  Comments Off on Cawaco moves to new office space!
Feb 232012

Come visit Cawaco RC&D Council at their new office space in Birmingham’s Southside.

The Plaza Building
2112 11th Avenue South
Suite 541
Birmingham, AL 35205
 Posted by at 1:19 pm

Cawaco RC&D Accepted in the Inaugural Class for Standards of Excellence

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Jun 132011

Cawaco RC&D Accepted in the Inaugural Class for Standards of Excellence


Cawaco RC&D has been accepted to enter the inaugural class for the Standards of Excellence program promoted by the Alabama Association of Nonprofits (www.alabamanonprofits.org.)  The National Standards of Excellence Institute was formed to promote the highest standards of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management and operations.  It provides nonprofits with clear benchmarks to measure performance against the highest standards of nonprofit governance and management, delivers educational programming and technical assistance, and grants the Seal of Excellence to organizations that complete a rigorous peer review process.

Kellie Johnston
Cawaco RC&D
(205) 264-8461

RC&D Federal Support Cut

 Cawaco Administration  Comments Off on RC&D Federal Support Cut
Apr 262011

On April 15, 2011 some federally funded programs were zeroed out. This budget cut to the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) program resulted in the removal of federal support for RC&D Councils across the country.

Federal funds, a coordinator, and an office support were eliminated as the NRCS cut the Resource, Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council collaboration from its budget. Funding from USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service provided the Cawaco council with a coordinator, Heidi Richards; 2 vehicles for program implementation; and office rent and expenses.

Cawaco RC&D Council will continue to receive financial support from administrative fees from grants, Challenge and ACES grant administration, and water partnership support. At this time, the council does not use fund raising events for project support.

The Cawaco RC&D mission, vision and goals will remain the same, and the 501(c)3 organization will continue to serve Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker with four board members from each county.   Collaboration with other entities – such as Soil and Water Conservation Districts – will also continue.

Former Cawaco RC&D Project Coordinator, Heidi Richards, has been transferred to the NRCS Bessemer Field Office. Projects such as the promotion of green technology for Chilton County, led by Heidi and council member Tracia Bussey will need to be re-evaluated.