Mentor Protégé CAMP Profile, 4: Sharla Mortimer and Xavier Alfaro-Lopez
Continuing our CAMP mentor/protégé series, we profile Yavapai County Farm Bureau President and farmer/rancher Sharla Mortimer and NRCS employee Xavier Alfaro-Lopez in this latest article.
With the launch April 2021 of the Conservation Agricultural Mentoring Program (CAMP), in partnership with Arizona Farm Bureau, The NRCS team has been front and center in enthusiastically driving this unique partnership. While several other states have the CAMP program, Arizona is unique in the partnership effort with Arizona Farm Bureau.
At the beginning of this 18-month effort, Arizona Farm Bureau and NRCS continue to shine a bright light on this exciting program and the experiences our mentors and protégé are going through.
The Mortimer Xavier partnership works to understand Arizona agriculture and conversation opportunities, joining forces to provide firsthand experience of the conservation practices and agricultural happenings in the northern Arizona area.
What’s been the biggest takeaway so far with your meetings over the telephone and/or zoom and/or face-to-face gathering? It has been great to get to know Xavier. It has been very helpful for me to see and understand his perspective of agriculture.
Why have you felt this program has been helpful? During our meetings, we have been able to discuss multiple aspects of agriculture and conservation. We have the same goals and love for the environment.
What do you hope to learn more about? How we can work more closely to protect the land, animals, and water resources.
What are you looking forward to in your other meetings/gatherings/learning and sharing sessions? I want to learn more from Xavier about what he and his coworkers need to be successful.
What’s been the biggest takeaway so far with your meetings over the telephone and/or Zoom and/or face-to-face gathering? Getting an education in natural resources helps you understand the processes and cycles that the land goes through, which connects you to the land on some level. However, working lands add a unique layer to the ecosystem and all that’s required to understand that process is for you to make time to listen, understand and exchange ideas with the producer. Connecting with producers connects you with the land.
Why have you felt this program has been helpful? This program reiterates the importance of slowing down and putting effort into connecting deeper with producers. As an agency employee, it is easy to get lost in the fast-paced environment of deadlines that we forget to set aside time to have genuine conversations with producers that could open doors to unknown conservation alternatives.
What do you hope to learn more about? I hope to learn Sharla’s perspective on the role the farm plays in the surrounding community, and where conservation fits in that role.
What are you looking forward to in your other meetings/gatherings/learning and sharing sessions? I am interested in learning more about where Sharla envisions the farm in 15 years and seeing where NRCS could support that.