Confused over Conservation Planner Certifications?
There is a lot of confusion over all of the different “certifications” out there. Here are three clarifications to help you navigate the fog:
Is the NRCS Conservation Planner course certificate a "Certification"?
If you attended and completed the requirements for the NRCS Conservation Planning, Part 2 course or Boot Camp you received a course completion certificate stating that you passed the course and now have a “certification” showing that you are qualified to write general conservation plans. This is NOT a planner certification process. You do not need to keep up this certificate nor do anything to maintain it. It is simply a course completion, albeit a very important one for learning the planning process. It is also one of the many requirements on the road to attaining the NRCS Certified Conservation Planner Designation, which is a separate, but often confused, process.
What is the NRCS Conservation Planner Designation/Certification?
NRCS released a new Conservation Planner Designation process in 2018 that outlines the requirements for attaining a desired level (Apprentice, Certified, Master, or Technical) of recognition for general conservation planning expertise. Each of the four levels has a required set of trainings that need to be completed (you can find a full list of NRCS Planner Designation requirements below). You are required to obtain continuing education credits and/or write a number of plans to maintain any NRCS Planner Designation every 3 years. The NRCS Certified Conservation Planner Designation level is often confused with the certification one receives for completion of the NRCS Introduction to Conservation Planning course.
What is the CTD Planner Certification?
In an effort to recognize levels of expertise within conservation planning disciplines, the CTD has created three Conservation Planner Certifications for Dairy, Farm, and Riparian planners. While these are separate from the NRCS Planner Designations, they use the NRCS Planner Designations and/or course requirements as a foundation for the CTD Planner Certification to show planning knowledge.