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Justin Burchett

Program Technician / Conservation Leader


I am an efficient, highly resourceful professional capable of completing any task with exceptional results. I have extensive education and experience in the plant biology, ecology, horticulture, environmental education, and organizational management fields, with a significant amount of outreach experience.  I am a proven leader in my community and at my job.  Many of my most recent positions have seen me constantly juggling multiple duties while remaining efficient and productive.

I was educated at Grand Valley State University and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology (Plant Emphasis).

Work experience

January 2016Present

Program Technician

United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency
  • Manage Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for Allegan County
    • Work closely with producers to determine conservation objectives and ideal conservation practices for private land to be enrolled into CRP.
    • Determine individual and/or entity eligibility for program participation and benefits.
    • Develop practice scenarios in conjunction with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) for the land to determine the proper calculation of available cost-share for practice installation and management, annual soil rental rate, and any applicable incentive payments.
    • Guide producers through the contract application process. Contracts for CRP range from 10 to 15 years in length and the requirements are very nuanced.
    • Create conservation scenarios in an ArcGIS type environment known as TERRA. Scenarios are then uploaded into a proprietary online application and processed per strict agency procedure.
    • Prepare and process annual soil rental payments, cost-share payments, and incentive payments.
    • Respond to self and external agency audits by contacting producers and correcting contract deficiencies thereby ensuring contract compliance.
    • Track required contract mid-contract management necessary for continuing to meet conservation objectives.
    • Promote program participation to FSA clients.
    • Nationwide, nearly 24 million acres of land are enrolled in the CRP contracts that pay out approximately $2 billion in annual rental payments, incentive payments, and cost-share assistance.
  • Manage Compliance Program (CP) for Allegan County
    • Direct county collection of annual crop reporting data for over 1,300 farms.
    • Interpret program procedure to ensure integrity of data collected from producers.
    • Record crop reporting data in a proprietary online application.
    • Data collected through annual crop reporting is the backbone of all FSA programs. In short, if something is recorded incorrectly in the CP program all other programs will not function as designed.
  • Manage Highly Erodible Land/Wetland Conservation (HEL/WC) Program for Allegan County
    • Ensure compliance of program participants with highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions.
    • Act as point of first contact for producers interested in expanding cropland.
    • Communicate producer goals with NRCS to initiate review of land for any potential environmental hazards of proposed land clearing, tiling, etc.
  • Provide updated procedure to all office personnel.
  • Assist with revision of farm boundaries and land designations in an online GIS environment.
  • Explain program requirements to interested parties in person, on the phone, and through other communication methods. These interactions include a range of customers from highly satisfied to dissatisfied.  In cases where working with a dissatisfied customer, I deescalate the situation to a level where a working relationship is possible.
  • Maintain record of interactions with clients
  • Assist coworkers with administration of their primary programs as requested.
September 2014December 2015

Executive Director (May 2015 to December 2015)                   Program Manager (September 2014 to May 2015)

Allegan Conservation District
  • Oversee District operations on a day-to-day basis.
  • Develop partnerships with local, regional, and state partners.
  • Manage District financials utilizing QuickBooks software.
  • Seek, research, and write grant applications for support and expansion of District programs.
    • DEQ 319 Grant, DNR Wildlife Habitat Program, Great Lakes Commission Grant, Community Foundation Grant, etc.
  • Prepare monthly board meeting packets, prepare financial and administrative reports.
  • Build relationships with local schools via Michigan Green Schools program and outreach activities.
  • Develop invasive species strike team program via partnership with the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (WMCISMA) and the West Michigan Cluster of The Stewardship Network.
    • Work carried out under a DNR Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program grant and a Sustain Our Great Lakes program grant held by partnering agencies (Ottawa Conservation District and The Nature Conservancy).
    • Acted as Crew Leader to develop daily work plans and ensure legal compliance.
  • Develop and provide presentations to local government officials and partner organizations.
  • Created press releases, social media posts, and other outreach materials.
Jan 2012Oct 2013

Events & Education Coordinator

Otsego Conservation District/Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve/Huron Pines AmeriCorps
  • Forest and Wildlife Management
    • Promoted cost-share programs through newsletters, local paper, local radio, website, and Facebook.
    • Evaluated landowner applications for cost-share programs and reviewed landowner's goals and objectives for the management of private lands.
    • Conducted site assessments to inventory and evaluate natural resource management goals.
    • Developed implementation and maintenance plans by utilizing Natural Resource Conservation Service protocols and reviewed these plans with landowners.
    • Conducted site inspections on private property and coordinated cost-share agreements.
  • Native Plant and Greenbelt Stewardship
    • Promoted native plant program by developing and distributing educational materials.
    • Assisted with native plant greenhouse care and maintenance.
    • Worked with riparian landowners and partner organizations to establish riparian buffer strips.
    • Assessed sites, drew planting plan, and created materials list for creating habitat improvements.
    • Supported the Otsego Conservation District (OCD) Alternative Landscaping Demonstration Garden and Conservation Forest through grant writing and educational programs.
    • Represented the OCD at various landowner groups, including meetings of the Pigeon River Habitat Initiative.
  • Environmental Education and Outreach
    • Effectively communicated and promoted recycling and other OCD programs through news releases, weekly radio addresses, brochures, and educational programs, all while maintaining favorable public relations.
    • Created and distributed brochures.
    • Updated OCD website and Facebook pages.
    • Coordinated educational programs with other conservation organizations in Otsego County.
    • Delivered classroom presentations on natural resource topics.
    • Coordinated an after school gardening education program ("Seed to Harvest") for children in grades 3-6.
    • Represented the OCD at Otsego County Recycling Committee meetings.
    • Compiled the Otsego County Resource Needs Assessment for the 2012 year.
    • Created, developed, planned, and implemented a conservation-based festival ("CEE Art in the Garden", CEE standing for "conservation, environmental, and ecological") which included multiple educational workshops, artists, and musicians that was made available free to the public and attracted hundreds of Otsego County residents to view the OCD's Alternative Landscaping Demonstration Gardens, which highlights native Michigan plants.
    • Compiled final grant reports.
  • Volunteer Engagement
    • Recruited, trained and supported volunteers to advance OCD programs.
    • Engaged volunteers through the Youth Volunteer Groups, Community Service Workers, County Court System, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and other outreach means including fellow AmeriCorps members within and outside of the Huron Pines AmeriCorps programs.
    • Coordinated volunteer activities and set priorities during volunteer work days.
    • Maintained correspondence with volunteers and other partner organizations concerning volunteer activities as well as educational programming.
Aug 2013Aug 2014

Executive Director

Gaylord Downtown Development Authority (DDA)
  • Work with Board of Directors to develop long and short range plans for the improvement of the organization and the district we serve.
  • Assisted with creation of new mission statement.
  • Collaborated with a team of professionals and citizens in developing and carrying forward a $4.5 million dollar project for approval by local government officials.
  • Redeveloped a summer-long downtown concert series after raising over $11,000 from local sponsors.
  • Communicate with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) regarding Facade Grant requests, Signature Building Acquisition Grants, and other economic development objectives.
  • Submitted a nearly $750,000 grant request to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).  (Approval pending.)
  • Oversee the Downtown Gaylord Farmers Market Manager (paid staff) and an all volunteer advisory board for the farmers market.
  • Assisted with the utilization of a $20,000 grant for the improvement of marketing exposure of the Downtown Gaylord Farmers Market.
  • Formed and/or maintain partnerships with numerous community organizations including the Otsego County Community Foundation, Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau, Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce, Gaylord Area Council of the Arts, County of Otsego, City of Gaylord, Otsego County Economic Alliance, etc.
  • Carry out all marketing of DDA activities via radio advertisements, live radio broadcasts, TV interviews, print advertisements, press releases, website updates, social media updates (Facebook and Twitter), posters, face-to-face interactions, and so forth.
  • Act as the spokesperson for the DDA at all times and maintain a positive community image through regular time spent volunteering in the community.
Sep 2011Present

Volunteer Land Steward

Michigan Nature Association
  • Responsible for visiting assigned MNA sanctuaries and easements at least once per year and submitting a written monitor report which provides information about the needs and conditions of the properties.
  • Report any threats on the sanctuaries, such as hunting, ORV use, plant/seed removal, dumping, and invasive species.
  • Pay attention to rare species so that they can be monitored over time.
  • Help develop and implement management plans.
  • Lead field trips and volunteer days at the sanctuaries of personal responsibility.
Dec 2012Sep 2013

Board Operator

Eagle Radio Group
  • Operated board during sporting events and other live broadcasts.
  • Recorded commercials for airplay.
Jul 2011Nov 2011


Michigan Nature Association
  • Removed the invasive plant, spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), from a dry sand prairie in Newago, Michigan that contains the state threatened plant prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) as well as many other important plant species.
  • Utilized a back-pack propane torch to spot-burn spotted knapweed.
  • Pulled spotted knapweed using conventional weed removal tools.
  • Worked to maintain the biodiversity of this unique dry sand prairie habitat.
  • Removed invasive woody shrubs from a wetland in southwest Michigan in order to increase fen habitat for numerous rare plants and the federally endangered Mitchell's Satyr butterfly (Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii).
  • Utilized a gas-powered brush saw as well as hand tools for woody shrub removal.
  • Mixed and applied herbicide utilizing the cut-stump method on all unwanted shrubs.
Apr 2011Oct 2011

Seasonal Ecologist

Michigan Natural Features Inventory
  • Inventoried plants throughout the Allegan State Game Area and Muskegon State Game Area by utilizing a Nomad equipped with Windows Mobile 6, SOLO Forest 4.0, and proprietary software.  This data was then uploaded to a stand-alone system where the data was edited on ArcGIS software.  Once edited, the data was checked in to a statewide database maintained by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory in conjunction with Michigan State University.  This data was then used by the Michigan DNR to assist in the development of land management priorities.
  • Recorded data regarding the plants present in surveyed land units, including those along wetlands and waterways, that included information such as common names, scientific names, percent composition in given stand, percent canopy cover of encountered plants, age of dominant tree cover, average diameter at breast height, density of specific species in given area, etc., thereby creating a verbal picture of the area surveyed.
  • Utilized the data recorded to make a judgment call as to the natural community type being surveyed.
  • Worked alone 99% of the time with occasional interactions with DNR personnel and other MNFI employees.
  • This job required much physical exertion in harsh environments and inclement weather conditions.
Mar 2011Apr 2011


Blandford Nature Center
  • Assisted with Sugarbush operations by tapping trees, operating maple sap evaporator, preparing and providing demonstrations to public, overseeing high-school volunteers collecting maple sap, and other duties as assigned.
  • Helped plan Pioneer Garden demonstration.
  • Worked with children on a regular basis.
Jan 2009Oct 2010

Sales Associate/Wholesale Rep/Technical Specialist

Horizen Hydroponics
  • Maintained garden area and hydroponic displays
    • Watered; pruned; identified and treated pests with various types of pesticides; mixed fertilizer solutions for hydroponic and soil plants; propagated by seed and cutting; manually pollinated plants; adjusted pH of nutrient solutions; identified and treated nutrient deficiencies; maintained cleanliness of area; created plant care schedules; assisted with garden design, etc
  • Replied to customer inquiries via email (Thunderbird), phone, and in person.
  • Dealt with and diffused a variety of adversarial situations encountered with customers.
  • Informed customers concerning how to meet their horticultural goals by suggesting various products and explaining how the products functioned.
  • Assisted with making orders for inventory.
  • Maintained quality store image through physical cleanliness of store and creating excellent relationships with customers.
  • Assisted in training of new employees concerning products, garden maintenance, store policies, point-of-sale training (QuickBooks POS), and other store functions.
  • Developed monthly store e-newsletter (Constant Contact).
  • Setup and maintained new wholesale accounts.
  • Helped educate the public concerning the environmental and health benefits of hydroponic and organic agriculture through informational booths at public events.
  • Updated and maintained website product listing.
  • Helped organize and advertise special store events.
  • Provided critical feedback on company operations.
  • Functioned as manager when necessary including setting priorities and coordinating the activities of less senior employees when management staff was not present.
  • Maintained quality customer relationships and favorable public relations.
  • Utilized Microsoft Office and applicable features for store functions.
Aug 2006Dec 2008

Student Worker - Head Grower

Grand Valley State University
  • Performed all aspects of plant care.
    • Water; fertilize; pest management including pesticide applications and manual removal; pruning; weeding; repotting; mixing soils; general cleaning of facility; watching over research projects; plant propagation via seed and cutting etc.
    • Monitored greenhouse environmental controls and made adjustments as necessary.
    • Reported issues as they arose to GVSU Biology Lab Supervisor.
    • Self-scheduled.
Mar 2006Aug 2006

Student Worker - Lab Assistant

Grand Valley State University
  • Setup and tore down undergraduate biology labs.
  • Calibrated and assisted in maintenance of equipment such as pH, turbidity, and ppm probes, microscopes, and other equipment.
  • Operated autoclave.
  • Assisted in department cleaning.
Apr 2006Jul 2006

Research Assistant

Grand Valley State University/Dr. Gary K. Greer
  • Setup and helped design research model studying the Tree-of-Heaven and the biological activity of the allelopathic chemicals present in its roots on the germination of surrounding tree species.
  • Performed all research and data collection.
  • Maintained professional scientific log of all daily activities performed in support of research.
  • Maintained sanitary conditions to avoid contamination of experiments.
  • Communicated back to advising professor regularly on the progress of the research.
Jun 2002Aug 2003

Computer Technician

B&K Computer Source
  • Diagnosed and solved hardware and software related PC issues.
  • Repaired computer systems.
  • Assisted with computer network issues.
  • Worked sales desk and register.
  • Answered customer questions.
  • Took care of deposit as well several other store manager functions.
Apr 2001Jun 2002

Sales Associate (Pet's Department)

  • Fed fish.
  • Treated diseased fish.
  • Removed and kept log of dead fish.
  • Answered questions concerning fish care.
  • Performed general cleaning of pet department.
  • Stocked pet department.


Jan 2011May 2011

Master Gardener Volunteer Certification Training Program

Michigan State University Extention
  • Attended all classes associated with the Master Gardener Volunteer program.  Due to lapse in recorded volunteer hours, I am no longer technically a Master Gardener.
  • Class focused on following areas:
    • Plant Biology
    • Soil Science
    • Indoor Plants
    • Ornamentals
    • Lawn & Turf Care
    • Herbaceous Plants
    • Woody Ornamentals
    • Etc.
    Aug 2003Dec 2008

    Bachelor's of Science

    Grand Valley State University
    • Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Plants Emphasis.
    • 3.362 GPA
    • Member of the GVSU Biology Club, 2005-2006 school year.
    • Class Highlights:
      • Systematic Botany
      • Aquatic Plants
      • Evolutionary Biology
      • General Ecology
      • Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
      • Plants and Fungi
      • Biological Chemistry
      • Statistics I & II
      • Physics I & II
    Sep 2001May 2003

    • Learned basic computer network technologies and successfully tested to become a Novell 5.1 Certified Network Administrator while enrolled in this program. 
    • Independently studied for and received CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ certifications during this time.


    David J. Mroczek, County Executive Director - USDA Farm Service Agency

    Penny Andrews, Program Technician - USDA Farm Service Agency

    Bruce Van Den Bosch, District Conservationist - USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

    Anneke Vermeulen, Soil Conservationist - USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

    Patricia Osburn, Administrator - Otsego Conservation District

    Jessica Kane, Former Catering and Conference Services Manager/Director of Guest Activities - Treetops Resort

    Jesse Lincoln, Conservation Associate - Michigan Natural Features Inventory



    Utilized QuickBooks for financial tracking and developing budgets.

    I always seek out ways to bring people and organizations together in order to get more accomplished with less resources, while also building healthy community relationships.
    Grant Writing
    Received grant writing training as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member. Have written numerous grants to help raise funds for conservation-based activities and other causes.
    General Outreach
    Well-versed in the various methods of outreach through social media and the internet. Have written and submitted numerous press releases that have found their way into local publications.
    Educational Outreach
    Capable of developing, planning, and conducting educational programming for Kindergarten through Adult.
    SOLO Forest V4.0
    Able to track, log points, and perform all basic functions related to SOLO Forest V 4.0.
    Utilize ArcGIS to edit data concerning the make-up of stands within state game areas for the purpose of assisting in the prioritization of land management activities. Familiar with stand editing and creating new stands, as well as running queries.
    Windows OS (98, ME, 2000, XP, Mobile 6, 7)
    I have always used the most up-to-date Windows OS.  I studied for MCSE Certification in 2003 (never took the test as I decided upon a different field), and am commonly the first person friends and acquaintances turn to for technical computer assistance be it hardware or software related.
    Basic skills using Magellan Triton 400 and similar units for back-country hiking and ORV navigation. Experienced with NOMAD for use in compartment and stand navigation for ecological surveys.
    Research Paper/Presentations
    Responsible for research and composition of numerous research papers and presentations for undergraduate biology courses including, but not limited to: General Ecology (3 papers) Cell & Molecular Biology (3 papers, 1 presentation) Genetics (3 papers) Evolutionary Biology (2 papers, thesis paper and presentation entitled A Review of the Mechanics of Secondary Metabolite Evolution within the Plant Kingdom)
    Plant Care
    Familiar with care of many annual and perenial ornamental and vegetable plant varieties. Resourceful when seeking new information concerning plant care necessities, unfamiliar pests and diseases, propagation techniques, and other associated information.
    Plant Identification
    Familiar with a number of native and invasive species in Michigan and their natural communities. Highly efficient when utilizing a key such as Michigan Flora, Gleason's Plants of Michigan, Michigan Trees, Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, etc.
    75 WPM when last tested.
    Microsoft Office
    Familiar with and highly experienced with Microsoft Office Suite.


    Sep 2002Present

    CompTIA A+

    Oct 2002Present

    CompTIA Network+

    Mar 2002Present

    Novell 5.1 Certified Network Administrator



    • Leadership
    • Community Building and Volunteering
    • Invasive and Native Plants of Michigan
    • Soil erosion issues
    • Rain gardens
    • Pollinator plants
    • Greenhouses
    • Conservation
    • Ecology and Interdependence
    • Michigan history and geography
    • Subsistence Farming
    • Organic Agriculture
    • Music composition and improvisation
    • Kayaking and Canoeing
    • Back-country Backpacking
    • Ethnobotany and medicinal plants