NRCS Engineer of the Year Andy Deichert – Building Projects and Partnerships That Last | Natural Resources Conservation Service

By Joanna Pope, Public Affairs Officer – NRCS  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with landowners to conserve natural resources on the land. The engineers who work for NRCS not only build conservation practices that help prevent flooding and erosion, but also build relationships that are key to implementing large-scale, long-lasting conservation projects. Andy Deichert, state conservation engineer with NRCS West Virginia, understands that balance and why he was nominated for this year’s NRCS Engineer of the Year. It is the foundation of his successful career.  

Growing up in rural southeastern Pennsylvania, Deichert learned the importance of working with partners to build things that last. As an engineer with NRCS for over 31 years, Deichert has spent his career building a conservation legacy from physical structures on the landscape – like dams that help with flood control to developing successful working relationships with our conservation partners.  

According to Deichert, the conservation work NRCS does every day can’t be done alone. “If we don’t have partners, we don’t have projects.”  

The majority of Deichert’s work is focused on watershed projects. These projects help prevent and reduce flooding across West Virginia. Watershed projects need local organizations to serve as the project sponsor to work with NRCS and local landowners. This partnership is key to watershed project success; and, success is critical. There are 170 structures in West Virginia that are classified as “high hazard potential dams.” Deichert and his team at NRCS ensure that these dams continue to function as intended, protecting people and property from flooding.   

NRCS Engineer of the Year Andy Deichert

When Deichert first started his career with NRCS as an agricultural engineer in Moorefield, West Virginia, dams were being built throughout the state. Today, many of those dams are at the end of their evaluated life and he is leading rehabilitation efforts to ensure they continue to meet dam safety standards. Dam rehab creates a conservation legacy for future generations by continuing to save lives and protect property in the event of severe flooding.  

Deichert said, “The work is interesting and always evolving. Working with the talented people within our agency and with our partners, sponsors, and customers has been the most rewarding. We are fortunate to have strong working relationships with our partners and local sponsors, including the West Virginia Conservation Agency and the 14 Conservation Districts. These relationships are instrumental in advancing our watershed projects.” 

Technical expertise is essential for every phase of a watershed project, from planning and design through implementation, but none of it would happen without the ongoing support of the local community. Deichert’s celebrated career illustrates the point and his projects solidify this fact: to build anything you have to be both an engineer and an ambassador. Designs need to be technically sound and benefit the local community. The Engineer of the Year Award recognizes his achievements in the landscape that have continued flood protection controls across West Virginia while forging a community committed to conservation that will last well into the future. Now that’s worth celebrating! Thank you, Andy!