The Pearlie S. Reed Excellence in Conservation Award 

Pearlie S. Reed

Pearlie S. Reed


1949 - 2016 


Pearlie S. Reed was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary for Administration on May 21, 2009. He was committed to carrying out Secretary Vilsack's priority to transform USDA into a model organization, positioned to meet the present and future needs of its employees and customers.


After 2003, Reed worked as a consultant in his own firm based in Marion, Arkansas, focusing on agriculture, conservation, economic development and management issues. Prior to 2003, he held a variety of positions at USDA throughout a distinguished 35 year career.


He began his career at USDA as a student trainee with the Soil Conservation Service in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas in 1968 while in college and rose to the position of the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in 1998. Reed served in that position until 2002.


He served in four states and headquarters during his career with USDA's NRCS. From 1994-97, he served as NRCS's Associate Chief. He was the State Conservationist for California from 1989-94 and State Conservationist for Maryland from 1985-89 responsible for leading comprehensive soil, water, and resource conservation and development programs in those states.


Reed served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration from 1997-98. A leader on Civil Rights issues, he was appointed to head the Civil Rights Action Team by then USDA Secretary Dan Glickman. The team issued a report that made recommendations on how to improve civil rights both inside and outside of USDA. President Bill Clinton issued an order that all 92 recommendations of the team be implemented.


Over the course of his career, he received numerous awards and honors including the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award for strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service. He  received the George Washington Carver Public Service Hall of Fame Award and the USDA Silver Plow Award.


Reed graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and received a Master's of Public Administration degree from the American University, Washington, D.C. 


Pearlie S. Reed, for members of The National Organization of Professional Black Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees, that name evokes superlative descriptions such as “visionary leader,” and “quiet but strong warrior who believes in equal rights for all.”


Mr. Reed was well-respected throughout The Organization and regarded as a powerful leader who was recognized for his strength, integrity and commitment to excellence. He made a tremendous impact on The Organization through his support of professional development opportunities to include our annual NOPBNRCSE conference and Outreach and Ag Education Expo.



The Pearlie S. Reed Excellence in Conservation Award is the National Organization of Professional Black Natural Resources Conservation Service Employees highest environmental honor. The award recognizes an individual who is a member of “The Organization” that has demonstrated exceptional leadership and have made notable contributions to their community and in conserving, protecting and enhancing our precious natural resources.



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