A love for the land

by | Dec 7, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Julie Henshaw, Nonpoint Source Programs (NPS) Section Chief with our Soil and Water Conservation Division, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!

College is a place where many individuals find their way and learn where their passion lies. Julie Henshaw, Nonpoint Source Programs (NPS) Section Chief with our Soil and Water Conservation Division, fell in love with soil science while pursuing her undergrad degree at The University of Maryland. “I grew up across the street from an estuary, so I always loved the water and playing outside,” she said. “After falling in love with soil science in college and officially making it my concentration, one of my professors suggested I apply for a job with Soil and Water Conservation. It was the best advice I ever received.”

Following college, Julie worked for a local Soil and Water Conservation District in Ohio to remain close to her grandmother. It wasn’t until 2004 that she moved to North Carolina with her husband and started looking at available positions here. “At that time, the Soil and Water Conservation Division was not under the NCDA&CS,” she said. “I started in 2005 with the division and we didn’t become a section of the department until 2011.” During that transition, Julie saw a lot of positive impacts for the Soil and Water division as well as the support from the department and state on the hard work they do every day.

A typical day in Julie’s life can vary greatly, but often involves a lot of partnership work with conservation agencies across the state. “Each local conservation in North Carolina is different, as they should be because the land is different,” she said. “We work with each district to ensure practices are correctly understood and executed for the best overall impact to the environment.” She can often be found in meetings with other agencies, troubleshooting online issues with the website, evaluating best management practices, working on and reviewing projects across the state and more. “There are a lot of different layers to the job in this division because we do work with so many other agencies and have many projects working at the same time,” she said. “It’s a team effort, but one that I am very thankful to be a part of.”

The people, in fact, are Julie’s favorite part of the job. “I enjoy a lot of things about what I do,” she said, “but at the end of the day, I work with the best people in the world.” The division calls themselves the Conservation Family because they all enjoy being around each other and working together to accomplish common goals. “I’m humbled to be a part of this team that is making a positive impact across the state,” she said. “To have a small hand in the change that protects our state’s natural resources is a huge honor.”

Although she has been involved with various projects during her 17 years with the department, Julie takes the most pride in her role during the rules re-adoption process. “We went through all the rules, regulations and processes for each of our programs and made them easier to maintain over time by consolidating them into one consistent file,” she said. “This project took on lots of meetings, partnerships, budget deals and more, but we now have a product that will make it easier over time for people to understand and follow.” Julie is also excited for the impact that it will make to those who eventually take on the role once her time with the division is over.

When she is not working, Julie can be found spending time with her husband and two children. They love to ride bikes, play video games and take beach trips together. Join us in thanking Julie for all of her hard work with our Soil and Water Conservation Division!