Terry Cosby, a longtime employee of the Department of Agriculture, has been picked as the next chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Most recently, Cosby was the state conservationist for Ohio and has been serving as acting chief of NRCS. He'll officially assume the role on Monday, USDA announced Wednesday.
His career at USDA began over 42 years ago in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa, according to the department.
Throughout his career, Cosby has held various leadership positions in Iowa, Missouri, and Idaho. Positions include an area resource conservationist, assistant state conservationist for field operations, and deputy state conservationist, for those states, respectively.
Cosby grew up on a cotton farm in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, with his eight siblings. The farm spans three generations and was bought by his great-grandfather in the late 1800s.
National Association of Conservation Districts President Michael Crowder said he is confident Cosby will lead NRCS in the right direction.
“His extensive experience in conservation as a farmer, a sportsman and state conservationist will further strengthen NRCS’ impact on the nation’s land as we work with our national partners to support America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,” Crowder said.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also appointed Meryl Harrell as deputy undersecretary for USDA's office of Natural Resources and Environment. She also starts Monday.
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She recently served as the executive director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, a “conservation nonprofit dedicated to providing stewardship to protected public lands in the Southern Appalachian region,” according to SAWS' website.
Harrell also worked eight years in former President Barack Obama’s administration in USDA’s NRE as chief of staff and senior adviser to the undersecretary. She has also worked for The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C.
Vilsack said he is fortunate to have both on his team.
“The leadership and expertise of Meryl and Terry will play an integral role in USDA’s efforts to provide personnel, science, and technology that will lead to better-informed and more effective land management decisions; partnerships to address climate adaptation, conservation, and ecological resilience; and clean energy technology and infrastructure,” Vilsack said.
Cosby currently lives in Ohio with his wife and four children. Harrell resides in Georgia with her husband and two children.
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