NRCS’s Les Bachelor Concludes a 24-Year Career in Environmental Conservation

environmental conservation

Les Bachelor, District Conservationist for the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is well-known among Willamette Valley farmers, and for good reason. He’s spent nearly a quarter of a century serving ranchers and landowners in Oregon, helping them identify natural resource concerns and apply environmental conservation measures. As Les prepares to retire in 2024, we at Stettler Supply Company want to take a moment to celebrate him for years of service to our local irrigation and agriculture communities.

The Beginning of a Diverse Career

Even as a child, Les loved the outdoors. “I grew up in South Dakota and fell in love with the Sandhills of Nebraska for the best fishing and hunting in the world,” he says. Back then, Les worked with his Dad on the Eagle Valley Ranch — a Hereford cow and calf operation in South Dakota. “Some folks called it the Bar T, as our livestock brand was ‘-T,’” he adds. As a child, Les anticipated this ranch would become his life’s profession. But after years of declining livestock prices, Les’s dad sold their beloved Eagle Valley Ranch and moved the family to Valentine, Nebraska, when Les was just a teenager. “Little did I know at that young age, when one door closes, another door opens,” says Bachelor.

Les spent the first 15 years of his career “opening doors,” bouncing from one industry to another. “My early profession is almost a book,” he says. He spent several years working alongside his Uncle Eldon in road construction, laying an asphalt road for an extension of Hwy 97, reaching across the Sandhills from Merritt Dam to Mullen, Nebraska. Later, he spent time in Salem, Oregon, working as a carpenter with the Parade of Homes and building a rest area in the Oak Grove of Champoeg State Park, among other jobs. Eventually, he returned to Nebraska and worked as a railroad operator and Foreman, headquartered in Valentine, on a 90-mile stretch of track. In 1991, he officially ended his railroad career and traveled to Chicago to become a certified welder.

Pivoting to Environmental Conservation in Oregon

As Les moved from job to job, state to state, he remembered the days spent on his father’s ranch and longed for a future in the agriculture industry. This led Les to the University of Wyoming in 1991, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in Rangeland Management. “During my time at the University of Wyoming, I took an intern job at the Laramie Rivers Conservation District and was able to get back to what I loved,” says Les. Ultimately, Les’s time as both a student and an intern paved the way for a 24-year career with the NRCS. “The NRCS worked closely with the Conservation District throughout Wyoming, and it was great having this knowledge when NRCS hired me as a Rangeland Manager in 1996.”

As Les thinks back on more than two decades spent in environmental conservation in Oregon, what stands out to him most is the relationships he has cultivated within the agricultural community. “Since I grew up on a ranch, I’ve enjoyed getting back on private lands, relating my background to our landowners, and forming relationships so that the NRCS can assist them,” says Bachelor. “I’m proud to work for an agency that truly cares for their clients. Seeing the success of these farms passed on to their children, many of whom are now operating their family farm and ranch, is truly rewarding.”

Looking Forward to “What Oregon Has to Offer”

With retirement right around the corner, Les looks forward to returning to his roots. “I will be traveling, fishing, and hunting as much as I can,” he shares. He won’t be relocating to Sandhills of Nebraska any time soon, but Les doesn’t seem to mind. He has developed a deep love for Oregon after decades spent surveying the state with landowners and implementing environmental conservation practices. With ample free time in his future, Les plans to make the most of the opportunities available to him here and encourages fellow Oregonians to do the same. “My advice is to drink more Willamette Valley wine and travel around our beautiful state to enjoy what Oregon has to offer.”

For more information on NRCS initiatives to help improve your irrigation system and apply environmental conservation measures, contact our team at Stettler Supply Company. We have worked closely with NRCS representatives like Les for years and look forward to the opportunity to help address your natural resource concerns.

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