Sims addresses WACD for final time in Evanston
Evanston – “It’s been wonderful hosting this convention here in our home town on the last year that I will be president,” said Shaun Sims, Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) president, on Nov. 15, opening WACD’s annual meeting.
Sims started as president of the association in 2010.
“Over the past eight years, I have had the honor and privilege to represent some of what I have come to realize are the most progressive conservation districts in the United States,” he said. “The most dedicated and engaged board members come from the state of Wyoming, as do the best congressional staff and the best Department of Ag and Natural Resources Conservation Service partners.”
In the state, Sims noted increasing attention has been focused on transparency in government, and districts across the state have begun to see pressure as a result.
“Transparency in government is something I think we all support and believe in,” he explained. “When we’re responsible for managing the public’s money, we all owe it to the public to take the best care of those finances and spend those monies appropriately.”
Sims commended districts for stepping up and responding to records requests they have been receiving.
As the Joint Corporations Committee of the Wyoming Legislature considers changes to the Public Records Act, Sims said potential changes could require organizations to respond in a set amount of time, with the possibility of legal activity for failure to respond.
“There are several groups supporting this effort, including the environmental community, Open the Books, Liberty Groups and others,” he said. “Governor-elect Gordon and Auditor-elect Kristi Racines have appointed a Transparency Working Group to address this.”
Looking forward, Sims encouraged conservation districts to work toward efficient and responsive ways to be transparent while also realizing that the entities have natural resource work to get done.
“At the WACD Board meeting, action was taken to create a task force to explore a type of platform to host records and make it more accessible for the interested public to access,” Sims said. “I see this issue as one of the highest priorities in the coming year as the legislature is going to grapple with the Public Records Act again.”
Recognizing the address would be his last opening WACD address as president, Sims said, “It has been a wild ride.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet many amazing people, starting here in Wyoming, across the nation, across the western range and nationally. These are people I now call friends,” he said.
He has learned about the differences and similarities between Wyoming and other states.
“I have to admit, I never thought when I stood here eight years ago at this very convention I would end up not only having the opportunity to serve you but would advocate for Wyoming’s issues and to serve on the national association as their board member and ultimately to serve as the western region executive board member,” he said.
Sims noted he has testified in front of Congress in a congressional hearing, as well.
“WACD has been an honor to represent,” he said. “This organization is strong because of its members’ ability to listen and hear each other’s concerns, work through disagreements, come together and act as a solid front when needed.”
He commented, “These attributes will enable Wyoming to work forward as a progressive leader in conservation.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.