Since 2012, Evan Davis has worked with the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to preserve our state’s agricultural land. As the Administrative Officer of the Farmland Preservation Division, Davis works to manage the application process for agricultural preservation and development project grants.
“I handle the evaluation process for the grants, so we can decide which ones will be able to be funded,” said Davis.
In approving most of these grants, Davis aims to establish conservation easements to limit development rights and keep land in its natural state. To ensure the easements comply with state and federal laws, Davis works with the US Department of Agriculture to establish conservation plans and sets environmental audits for land owners. And when conservation easements are not possible, Davis also partners with counties to implement voluntary agricultural districts and farmland protection plans.
“Our top objectives are to ensure natural resources are protected and to keep land healthy and at its most productive for family farmers” said Davis.
To achieve this, Davis must draw heavily on the project management skillset he learned through the MPA program.
“While at UNC, I was able to take two courses – financial management and governmental budgeting – that really helped me understand how to handle these projects and larger budget issues,” said Davis.
Davis applies that knowledge today to tracking administration expenses and grant budgets, allowing him to spearhead ensuring these conservation projects get off the ground. Many of these projects require Davis to find outlets for outreach, often partnering with other governmental institutions to do so. Currently, Davis is working with the state to create buffer zones around NC military bases and stronger air space protections, thereby limiting land use and restricting commercial development around military zones.
“This project is something that’s very new to our division,” said Davis. “But intergovernmental relations was a big focus of my PWE (Professional Work Experience) – so that’s really allowed me to take a lead role in it.”
Davis said this type of intergovernmental work has become increasingly common in the conservation field, and expects that the new dual degree program will prepare its students to lead this charge toward public sector collaboration.
“From my perspective, a lot of conservation work has moved toward the government and non-profits,” said Davis. “So I think that for those interested in that career path, this program would be really beneficial as they move into management roles.”
Davis believes that this combination of environmental knowledge with administrative proficiency will allow the dual degree graduates to give a strong voice to their passions.
“The program will help those with desire for environmental projects to move them forward,” said Davis.
“It will prepare them to handle the overall big picture of project management and get the projects they are passionate about off the ground.”