Pathfinders’ History

Local History

Local community leaders came together in the early 1970’s to organize the Pathfinders Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area. In 1978 the nonprofit organization incorporated and received its 501c3 designation from the IRS. In January 1980, the Pathfinders area was authorized for, and started receiving, technical assistance support from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Pathfinders Area received USDA support from 1980 – 2011. In April 2011, USDA discontinued funding and support for the RC&D program nationwide.

Today, Pathfinders generates 98% of its funding support for programs and operations through grants and contracts.

Board of Directors participating in a planning process in 2003

Board of Directors participating in a planning process in 2003

In its 35+ year history, Pathfinders RC&D programs and services primarily focused in six southeastern Iowa counties: Davis, Jefferson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Van Buren and Wapello counties. Today, however, Pathfinders RC&D work touches communities and organizations across 15 counties.

Pathfinders continues to provide valuable assistance in southeast Iowa by generating revenue through the many projects and services it provides.

RC&D Program History

Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennet (left), first NRCS Chief

“Land must be nurtured; not plundered and wasted.” – Hugh Hammond Bennett, first Chief of NRCS (left) Photo Credit: NRCS

The RC&D Program was established in the Agriculture Act of 1962, with responsibility for the administration of the program placed within the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Successive Farm Bills have provided for the further development of the program, including deepening the partnership between RC&D Councils and the NRCS.

RC&D Councils are 501(C)3 non-for-profit corporations. They are not governmental entities, so the typical policies and constraints of local, state, and federal government programs do not limit the types of issues they address or the means they use.

Within their respective areas (typically covering 5-8 counties), RC&D Councils have a high degree of independence to carry out activities that will achieve their most important goals. RC&D Council volunteers are leaders and community stakeholders involved in multiple roles in local government, school boards, churches, and other civic activities. At RC&D Council meetings, they draw from their professional expertise and community connections to determine the needs of their RC&D Council areas, address those needs, and make their communities better places to live, work, and play. Nationwide, over 25,000 volunteers serve on local RC&D Councils.