It’s their job: Range land manager helps conserve resources

Sean Lewis has worked as a range land management specialist for the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service
for six years, with about eight months of that time in Portales.

Lewis grew up on a ranch north of Mosquero and finished high school
in Roy. He earned a degree in range land management from New Mexico
State University.

Why did you choose this job?

I grew up on a ranch, and when I went to school, I switched through
a couple of different programs and ended up figuring out I liked the
ranching way of life more than I thought I did. So I started trying to
figure out how to make a good living and still be a part of, basically,
the rural agriculture community.

What does your job entail?

Basically, I work with farmers and ranchers, mainly ranchers, trying
to conserve our natural resources and the way of life through the use
of the USDA’s Farm Bill programs as well as knowledge I’ve gained
through my position. I work on the computer a lot, but I also get to
run around and meet people, talk about their places and the issues that
they’re facing, and try to address resource concerns as much as
possible.

What is a typical day for you?

Probably about 50 percent to 60 percent of the time, I’m working on
the computer or working on management things, trying to get things we
know about these producer’s places into the system. And then I get to
talk to local producers nearly every day. Also, a couple of days a
week, I’m able to spend time with the people, out looking at their
places, offering suggestions and learning from each other.

What training do you need for this job?

My position requires a degree in range sciences, and then after
that, the agency provides a bunch of training to prepare you for
whatever’s coming next, hopefully. They try to, anyway. And it’s kind
of like still being in school part of the time, because you always have
to learn — learn to keep up with technology and remember some of the
history of why we do what we do.

What do you enjoy most about this job?

Time spent outdoors and getting to meet and work with some of the great people of the area.

—Compiled by PNT Senior Writer Argen Duncan