On December 6, 2014, Drenda Williams received the distinguished Pearlie S. Reed Excellence in Conservation Award. This award is given by the National Organization of Professional Black Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees (NOPBNRCSE) annually in honor of Pearlie S. Reed who served as the USDA’s Assistant Secretary for Administration and the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is awarded to individuals who have made significant impacts within the agency as well as the NOPBNRCSE.
Drenda J. Williams is a native of Vandalia, Missouri. She graduated from Van-Far High School in 1993. While attending Van-Far, she was the first black president of the National Honor Society and received several awards for basketball and track with the Lady Indians.
Williams currently serves as the Assistant State Conservationist (ASTC) for Management and Strategy at the NRCS State Office in Temple, Texas. She began her 21-year career with USDA NRCS as one of the first USDA/1890 National Scholars. Williams attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City and graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s of science in Agriculture and Natural Resources.
She began her work with NRCS as a computer specialist in the USDA Audrain County Service Center. Throughout her career, Williams worked in various NRCS field offices, at Lincoln University’s Center for Excellence and later, the Missouri state office. Williams advanced within the agency from Soil Conservationist, Geographic Information Systems Specialist, Resource Conservationist, Ag Economist, EQIP and CSP program manager, ASTC for Operations in Missouri, ASTC for Operations in Texas and to her current leadership position as the ASTC for Management and Strategy for Texas NRCS where she is also the Acting State Administrative Officer, Acting Human Resource Manager, and Acting Budget Officer.
Williams has served as a member of the Space Efficiency Team, Fleet Management Team, and the National Workforce Planning Team, National Recruitment Strategy Team, Activity Based Costing Forum Group, National Video Teleconferencing Advisory Group, and the Conservation Delivery and Streamlining Initiative Readiness Team–Central Region. Williams has served on various details within NRCS which include Deputy Chief for Programs’ Business Tools Team, Missouri State Administrative Officer (SAO), Kansas SAO, Missouri State Conservationist, the Office of the Regional Conservationists’ State Improvement Team in Washington, D.C. and Oregon State Conservationist.
In 2012, Williams directed the National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees’ First Outreach and Agriculture Education Expo partnering with Universities, Community-Based Organizations, and landowners to provide training and increase services to minority landowners. Williams has been an active member of the NOPBNRCSE and has served as the Correspondence Secretary (2005-2008), Vice-President (2008), Interim President (2008), Immediate Past President (2009-2011), and President (2011-2013), Immediate Past President (2013-2015), and is currently the President (2015-2017).
Williams has consistently excelled in the performance of her duties within NRCS. In addition to her challenging NRCS responsibilities in the state office, Williams continues to lead by example. She received honorable mention honors for the 2010 USDA Organization of Professional Employees of the Department of Ag’s Unsung Hero award for her work in promoting civil rights, in 2012 recognized by Lincoln University, Missouri, for increasing USDA programs on campus, and as one of the NRCS “First” Black females to hold the positions of ASTC Operations in Missouri and Texas as well as the first elected female President of NOPBNRCSE.