Rich Casale joined the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) right out of college as a soil conservationist on June 17,1974. Over the years, he made an impression on his superiors, coworkers and the farmers and landowners he worked with in the Monterey Bay Area and Santa Cruz County.
Then in May 1979, the NRCS opened a field office in Santa Cruz County and my dad became its first district conservationist and he’s been serving in that capacity ever since. Along the way he co-founded the Professional Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) program in 1981, a volunteer program that now has nearly 5,000 participants in 13 countries worldwide. In 1996, he started The Blue Circle, an informal gathering of industry professionals who meet twice a year to network and share ideas. He also speaks at conferences, meetings and events around the country and has steadily become a credible and trusted industry expert.
You may think after a long and productive career he would be ready to throw in the towel. On the contrary, he tells me almost every time I see him that he loves what he does, so why should he stop doing it? Also, with so much experience and influence, he feels he has more to offer now than at any other point in his career.
Like any other job, he says there have been highs and lows over the past 40 years, but overall his job is extremely rewarding. He loves his coworkers and enjoys helping people make the best decisions regarding the natural resources under their stewardship.
Additionally, he likes how he can actually see the difference he’s making. Whenever we’re driving around Santa Cruz County, he’s always pointing out his ‘work’ as we whip by wineries, farms and sprawling properties across the county. He’s also considered an industry legend throughout California. No kidding, when I was living in Chico I met some NRCS employees and asked them if they knew my dad. With surprised faces, they said they had never met him but knew exactly who he was and commented on how his important his work has been throughout the state. Indeed, he has made a lasting impression in his community.
I think another reason why he likes his work so much is that he doesn’t feel like he’s working all the time. He says that he always wanted to have a job that he loved as much as what he does in his spare time and on the weekend; a seamless week. He always tells me, “I want to live my life seven days a week and not just on the weekend.” This is one of the most powerful lessons he’s taught me.
I think it’s very important to value passion for your work over a paycheck. I don’t want to work for the weekend, or watch the clock all day during the week. I want to be passionate about my work and let it influence my entire week and life.
With that, I want to congratulate my dad for 40 amazing years of making an impact in his community and for always following his passion.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.