Van Buren Conservation District

What is a Conservation District?

Michigan’s Conservation Districts are “unique” local units of State Government, established to carry out programs for conservation.  Conservation Districts utilize county, state, federal and private sector resources to assist people with the wise use and protection of the natural resources on their lands.

Conservation Districts continually scan the needs of their local communities, work in partnership with others involved in conservation to set local priorities, and develop action plans to solve natural resource problems. The delivery of these efforts by Conservation Districts allows citizens to manage their private lands for a cleaner, healthier Michigan.

The Van Buren Conservation District is governed by a locally elected, five-member Board of Directors. The Directors make decisions regarding the District’s programs and activities and hire qualified staff. The staff provide information, technical assistance, workshops, public education, cost-share opportunities, as well as affordable trees/shrubs to enhance wildlife and reforestation.

For more information about Michigan Conservation Districts, please visit the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts.

A Video of Where It All Began: The Dust Bowl

Click to access VBCD Annual Reports.

Employment & Volunteering

Employment Opportunities

Thank you for your interest in working on our team! There are no positions available at this time. Please check back in the future. 

The Van Buren Conservation District (VBCD) is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. VBCD programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. The VBCD collectively acknowledges that its offices and gatherings occupy the ancestral, traditional and contemporary Lands of the Council of the Three Fires – the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi, ceded in multiple historic treaties. Through this acknowledgement, we recognize, support and advocate for the sovereignty of Michigan’s twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, and for historic Indigenous communities and individuals. The VBCD is committed to our obligations to those communities. The process of knowing and acknowledging the land we stand on is a way of honoring and expressing gratitude for the ancestral people who stewarded this land before us and their descendants who steward this land today.

For additional Natural Resources career opportunities, please also continue to visit Michigan Association of Conservation Districts to see about Districts across Michigan.

Volunteer Opportunities

For more information or to get on our general volunteer list, email Emilly Hickmott at deputy@vanburencd.org.

Volunteer Appreciation Night
March 30, 2022 | Walt & Marie’s Country Market & Cafe | 44947 W Red Arrow Hwy, Paw Paw, MI 49079 | 5:30 PM

Past, present, and interested Volunteers are invited and welcome to join us for drinks and appetizers! The VBCD could not do what we do without you and we would like to thank you for your time, dedication, and support for all of our programs.

We’ll have a night of food, drinks, and conversation starting at 5:30 pm. A short presentation highlighting our Volunteers and Volunteer Programs will begin at 6:00 pm.

RSVP to Emilly Hickmott at deputy@vanburencd.org.

Tree Seedling Wrapping
April 9, 2022 | 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
April 11, 2022 | 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
April 12, 2022 | 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
April 13, 2022 | 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Wrapping in Hamilton Township

Volunteers are needed prior to Tree Seedling Sale to help separate and wrap tree seedlings and prepare pre-orders for day-of-sale pick up. Let us know you are planning on attending as we provide lunch!

RSVP to Emilly Hickmott at deputy@vanburencd.org.

Tree Seedling Sales
*Volunteer Times:
April 14, 2022 | 12:00 PM – 6:30 PM 
April 15, 2022 | 12:00 PM – 6:30 PM
April 16, 2022 | 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Two Locations Each Day: 

  • VBCD Office | 1035 E Michigan Ave. | Paw Paw, MI 49079
  • Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum | 903 S Bailey Ave. | South Haven, MI 49090

Volunteers are needed to help set up/tear down tables, organize trees, talk to customers about tree species, and assist with handing out pre-orders. If you cannot be there for the whole time slot, join us for part of it! 

RSVP to Emilly Hickmott at deputy@vanburencd.org.

Stream Monitoring/Insect Collections
Sunday, May 1, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Lawrence River Park off of Paw Paw St. in Lawrence on the Paw Paw River.

Sunday, October 2, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Lawrence River Park off of Paw Paw St. in Lawrence on the Paw Paw River.

Volunteers are needed to help collect aquatic insects in local waterways. Volunteers have the opportunity to be:

  • a “Collector” and wear waders to go into the water to collect insects with nets
  • a “Runner” that stays bank side and take nets and buckets from the “Collectors”
  • or a “Picker” who picks out any insects that are found in the river/stream and places them into a jar for later identification.

Each role is important and volunteers have the option of what they would like to do at the collection site. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary, Team Leaders are available at each site to assist volunteers. All materials and equipment necessary are provided.

To sign-up, email Abbie Bristol at invasivesmgmt@vanburencd.org.

Recycle Roundup: Household Recycling Collections

  • June 11, 2022 | 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM | Van Buren County Mental Health | 801 Hazen St. | Paw Paw, MI 49079
  • August 6, 2022 | 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM | South Haven Department of Public Works | 1199 8th Ave. | South Haven, MI 49090
  • October 15, 2022 | 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM | Van Buren ISD Conference Center | 490 S Paw Paw St. | Lawrence, MI 49064

Volunteers are needed for setting up, directing traffic, checking in customers, and cleaning up. Volunteers will not be working with hazardous materials. If you cannot be there for the whole event, join us for part of it! 

To sign-up, email resourcerecovery@vanburencd.org.

Well-Water Screening Week
August 1 – August 5, 2022 | 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM | VBCD Office | 1035 E Michigan Ave. | Paw Paw, MI 49079

Volunteers are needed to help screen well-water samples with a simple dip test strip, hand out educational materials and VBCD program information, and help direct questions to VBCD staff. Shifts can vary depending on volunteers’ schedule.

*Subject to change per USDA office pandemic protocol.

To sign-up, email Kyle Mead at maeap@vanburencd.org.

River Rescue
Report a site that needs River Rescue to the VBCD by calling 269-657-4030 x5!

Volunteer River/Stream Trash Clean Up – Volunteers can help with fun, community-based clean-ups (non-organic materials, trash/debris) in and along local rivers, streams, and creeks.

For additional opportunities to canoe/kayak local waterways and help clean up, please check out Two Rivers Coalition.

Report sites or let us know you’re interested in a cleanup by emailing info@vanburencd.org.

Office Duties

Volunteers are needed throughout the year to help with mailings, phone calls, filing, updating informational binders, etc.

Let us know you’re interested in helping by emailing info@vanburencd.org.

Meet Our Staff

Kim Sinclair, Administrator
administrator@vanburencd.org
(269) 633-9042

Financial Reporting, Accounts Payable/Receivable, Office and Events Administration

Emilly Hickmott, Deputy Administrator
(269) 633-9054

Operations, Outreach, Office and Events Administration: deputy@vanburencd.org

Erin Fuller, Watershed Coordinator
watershed@vanburencd.org
(269) 218-0199

Grant Management, River Management, Data Analysis, Natural Shoreline Specialist, Native Plant Specialist, Bird Specialist, Community Outreach and Education, Website Technical Resource

Kyle Mead, MAEAP Technician
maeap@vanburencd.org
(269) 205-3377

Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), Conservation Cover Crop Equipment Rental Management, Irrigation Specialist, Small Fruit Specialist, Farmer/Grower Resource

Colleen Forestieri, Conservation Technician
agconservation@vanburencd.org
(269) 218-0119

Grant Management, Data Analysis, Cover Crop Specialist, Agricultural Communication and Education Specialist, Farmer/Grower Resource

Alex Florian, Invasive Species Coordinator
invasivesed@vanburencd.org
(269) 633-9044

Invasive Species Coordinator for SW x SW Corner CISMA, covering Berrien, Cass, Van Buren Counties. Invasive Species Management, Outreach, Education, and Coordination, Native Plant Specialist

Lucas Hartman, Conservation Technician
agtechnician@vanburencd.org
(269) 633-9057

NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) Landowner Resource, Butterfield Drain and Haydon Woods Property Management, Wildlife Specialist, Hunter Resource

Abbie Bristol, SW x SW Corner CISMA Strike Team Coordinator
invasivesed@vanburencd.org
(269) 633-9044

Invasive Species Treatment Specialist, Outreach, Education, and Coordination, Native Plant Specialist

Jacob Diljak, Outreach Coordinator
outreach@vanburencd.org
(269) 633-9052

Outreach, Financial, Office, and Events Coordination, Resource Recovery Support, Volunteer Services

Lia Will, Administrative Associate
admin_associate@vanburencd.org

Financial, Office, and Events Administration, Volunteer Services

Kalli Marshall, Recycling & Materials Management Coordinator
resourcerecovery@vanburencd.org

(269) 633-9314

Resource Recovery & Recycling Management, Outreach, Education, and Coordination

Carlie Southland, Conservation Associate
education@vanburencd.org

Summer Education Programming, Water Quality Project Support, Event Support 

Justin Palthe, Strike Team Crew Lead
striketeam@vanburencd.org

Seasonal Invasive Species Treatment

Lance McCarty, Strike Team Crew Member
education@vanburencd.org

Seasonal Invasive Species Treatment

Hannah Hudson, Conservation Associate
conservation_associate@vanburencd.org

Grant Support, Water Sampling Support, Education Resource

Patrick Gordon, Produce Safety Technician covering Southwest Michigan patrick.gordon@macd.org

Safe Food Growing & Harvesting Practices Specialist, Grower Resource

Board of Directors

Bill VanTassel
Chair

Jan Petersen
Vice-Chair

Carl Druskovich
Treasurer

Paulette Rybarski
Secretary

Ron Klein
Member

If you are interested in becoming a Board Director for the Van Buren Conservation District and are a resident of Van Buren County, please call 269-657-4030 x5 or email info@vanburencd.org for a Nomination Petition.

At least 60 days prior to the District’s Annual Meeting (usually a July meeting), interested residents must file the Nomination Petition to run for the Conservation District Board. Petitions need be completed and returned to the VBCD Office (1035 E. Michigan Ave. Paw Paw, MI 49079) before this time. Candidates are placed on a ballot and publicly elected at the Conservation District’s Annual Meeting. The standard term length for Board Directors is four (4) years. For more information on how a Board Director serves the community, please contact the VBCD.

If you are interested in getting involved but not as a VBCD Board of Director, please consider joining the Van Buren Conservation District Foundation Board. You can learn more about the Foundation using the link above.

Click to access VBCD Board Meeting Minutes and Agendas.

Click to access VBCD Staff Board Reports and Financial Documents.

Partners

The Van Buren Conservation District could not excel at what we do without strong, knowledgeable partners. We are ever-grateful for the willingness of so many organizations and individuals who help conserve Van Buren County and beyond. Click on the logos below for more information about some of our partners.

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS)

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Michigan Conservation District Association (MACD)

Van Buren County

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)

Michigan Department Agricultural and Rural Development (MDARD)

Michigan/Van Buren County Farm Bureau

Michigan State University Extension (MSUE)

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC)

Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC)

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

Two Rivers Coalition (TRC)

Municipalities

The Van Buren Conservation District could not excel at what we do without strong, knowledgeable municipality partners. We are ever-grateful for the willingness of those who help conserve Van Buren County and beyond. Click on the logos below for more information about some of our municipality partners.

Van Buren County Government

Almena Township

Antwerp Township

Arlington Township

Bangor Township

Bloomingdale Township

City of Bangor

City of Gobles

City of Hartford

City of South Haven

Columbia Township

Covert Township

Decatur Township

Geneva Township

Hamilton Township

Hartford Township

Keeler Township

Lawrence Township

Paw Paw Township

Pine Grove Township

Porter Township

South Haven Charter Township

Village of Bloomingdale

Village of Breedsville

Village of Decatur

Village of Lawrence

Village of Lawton

Village of Mattawan

Village of Paw Paw

Waverly Township

VBCD Foundation

Founded: January 1992

Mission: The Van Buren Conservation District Foundation serves to support the Van Buren Conservation District and all people in the promotion of effective conservation practices to protect and preserve our natural resources, human health, and the environment.

Board of Directors:

  • Kevin Haight, Chair
  • PJ Chmiel, Vice Chair
  • Lisa Phillips, Treasurer
  • AJ Brucks, Secretary
  • Fred Garrod, Trustee
  • Bryan Cronenwett, VBCD Board Representative Trustee (shared)
  • Carl Druskovich, VBCD Board Representative Trustee (shared)

Board Meetings: Open to the public.  Meetings are at 4:00pm on the fourth Wednesday, bi-monthly, in January, March, May, July, September and November, at the VBCD Office (1035 E. Michigan Ave. Paw Paw, MI). Please contact the VBCD by emailing info@vanburencd.org or calling 269-657-4030×5 for more information.

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