Washington native becomes director of N.C. soil and water

Published 3:17 pm Monday, December 3, 2007

Washington native Patricia “Pat” Kelder Harris has been named the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation’s first female director. She lives in Williamston with her husband, Jeff and will start in the new position Dec. 1.
In her new role, she will direct the state’s comprehensive program aimed at protecting and conserving North Carolina’s soil and water resources, according to the N.C. Department of Environmental Natural Resources.
Harris has worked with the Division of Soil and Water Conservation since December 1987. For the last 10 years, she’s provided technical assistance to livestock producers and landowners to implement certified animal-waste management plans and permitting requirements for compliance with federal and state rules and regulations.
Before joining the division, Harris worked as an agricultural-extension agent in Pamlico County and was an animal science instructor at Beaufort County Community College. She has earned several accolades, including the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation Director’s Award of Achievement and the Hugh Hammond Bennett Soil &Water Conservation Society’s Professional Achievement Award in Soil Conservation.
Harris graduated from Washington High School in 1976. She earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in biological and agriculture engineering and another in animal science technology, both from N.C. State University in 1981.
Harris replaces Manly Wilder who served as director for two years before he was appointed in October to assistant secretary for Natural Resources in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Wilder said Harris was the best person for the job.
Wilder said it’s not so important that Harris is female.
As director, Harris will oversee a 64-person division that provides financial, technical and educational help to the state’s 96 soil and water conservation districts as well as landowners, farmers and others.
Previously, Harris worked out of a regional office for the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation in Washington, but will now work out of the statewide office in Raleigh.