Operational Oversight & Policy

Proactive policies regarding office operations and program delivery procedures are essential to the efficient functioning of a growing, busy conservation district.


Policies may include:

  • Operational Policies
  • Fiscal Policies
  • Personnel Policies
  • Employment Policies

All policies should be compiled in a policy manual and available to all directors and staff. It is the Board’s responsibility to adopt policies at a public meeting

Personnel Policies

As the governing body of the District, the board of directors has the responsibility of ensuring legal personnel policies and practices are followed and overseeing the proper management and growth of the District staff.

Personnel policies should:

  • Ensure applicable employment laws are followed
  • Provide guidance in hiring, firing and discipline of employees
  • Assure expectations for employees such as dress code, absences, use of electronics technology etc are understood and followed
  • Establish and communicate clear roles and expectations of manager and staff
  • To set a baseline for performance expectations and evaluations
  • Enable the staff to effectively carry out the mission of the district
  • Can be outlined in job descriptions, Individual Development Plans and evaluations

Evaluation Procedures & Processes

Develop and utilize evaluation procedures and processes for staff and manager:

  • Helps establish goals of performance
  • Provide an opportunity to identify professional and personal growth.
  • Enable the board to identify training needs
  • Provide an opportunity to update job description and responsibilities
  • Evaluate recent job performance
  • Provide avenue for open communication between staff, board and manager
  • Provide the opportunity for recognition of exceptional performance

Develop and utilize a professional development plan for manager and staff:

  • Help identify and target training needs
  • Enable district to budget for training needs
  • Provide for personal growth and empowerment Increases the district’s overall technical capacity Identifies the opportunities for cross training


To best realize its potential, districts benefit from a planning process that includes developing a common vision and mission, as well as short- and long-term goals and any new direction.

Benefits of Planning

  • Shared vision of the community’s natural resource needs
  • The identification of strategies to meet those needs
  • The identification of resources and partners to meet those needs
  • Clearly identifies the districts role in meeting the communities goals
  • Communicate needs and secure resources to accomplish the goals of the strategic plan

Strategic Long Range Planning

Strategic Long Range Planning is a process used to make concrete plans for the future, document those plans, and adopt a formal method to execute those plans and evaluate their success.

  • Reaches two to five years into the future and is focused, detailed, and clear about what is to be done
  • Who is/are involved – District, partners, community
  • When each step is to be performed
  • How the success of the plan will be evaluated

Annual Plan

An Annual Plan should spell out in detail:

  • What the district expects to accomplish during the coming year
  • How action is to be taken to accomplish the goals
  • Who is to carry out the action or be responsible for its completion
  • When the action is to be accomplished
  • How it is to be measured

Planning Tools

The annual plan should be reviewed, updated and evaluated regularly.

  • Each year, your conservation district should evaluate the success it had in reaching the goals and objectives it planned and capture the “whys” of what worked and what didn’t.
  • Invest the time in creating a meaningful plan and evaluating its usefulness.

Operational Oversight

As the governing body of the District, the board of directors has the responsibility for overseeing the proper management and growth of the District program.

Well-Functioning Districts

A well functioning District maintains:

  • An active and engaged board that makes well informed policy decisions
  • A committee and volunteer structure that supports the board in its decision making process
  • A network of active and knowledgeable partners
  • A set of operational policies that set clear guidance for the district to carry out programs

Roles of Associate Directors or Volunteers

Clear roles and expectations of associate directors or other volunteers:

  • Knowing the Conservation District Law and responsibilities of directors and staff
  • Know and understand the local Conservation District programs and operations
  • Know and understand the job descriptions of associate directors and other volunteers
  • Provide specialized expertise to the board
  • Research issues to facilitate informed board decision making
  • Provide training excellent training for men and women who are potential directors
  • Provide a direct tie to different area of the community
  • Provide a pool of resources to implement district programs
  • Carry forward the Districts mission to other organizations in the community

District Committees

District committees perform an important role:

  • Provide a forum for research and debate on topics of interest to the board
  • Committees can also be used to acquaint new board members with program specifics
  • Advise the board on program decisions
  • Analyze and/or develop proposed policies as needed
  • Directly involve partners in business of the district

Understanding Resources

It is important that district committees understand what resources are required for proper operation of the District:

  • Know and understand the true costs of implementing projects and programs
  • Know the people resources required to effectively carry out programs
  • Provide the appropriate facilities and tools for staff to carry out their responsibilities
  • Understand the training needs of the districts human resources