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NRCS Employee Recognized

Roel Guerra, of Rio Grande City, Texas, was recently recognized by the Harlingen Region of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services/Division for Blind Services (DARS/DBS).

Guerra was singled out for his commitment and hard work with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in helping landowners with conservation planning during a ceremony that honored NRCS as its 2011 Business of the Year.

Guerra, a 24-year NRCS employee who is legally blind and hearing impaired due to a hereditary eye condition that affects peripheral vision and hearing, was presented with a resolution from the State House of Representatives. The resolution, read by Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, recognized Guerra’s career as a soil conservation technician and planner, which has earned him an outstanding reputation among landowners in Starr County and Guerra’s peers.

The resolution was presented to Guerra on June 30 at the Starr County Courthouse Annex. Attendees included Guerra’s family and friends, NRCS and DARS/DBS employees, Starr County officials and others.

Ralph Rangel, field director and Bonnie Notargiacomo, vocational rehabilitation coordinator, both with DARS/DBS in the Harlingen region, told attendees that it is the cooperative effort  between agencies like NRCS and DARS/DBS that enables individuals such as Guerra to live full productive lives by helping them to succeed in the workplace.

Guerra came to DARS/DBS seeking assistance with job retention. After a comprehensive assessment, the agency and NRCS agreed that Guerra would benefit from vocational rehabilitation services. In addition, DARS/DBS provided adaptive technology equipment so that Guerra could continue to complete his work tasks independently.

At the ceremony, Guerra said a few words of thanks and appreciation to his family, friends, co-workers, DARS/DBS, coworkers and landowners who have provided him the support and help over the years.

Starr County Judge Vera also honored his long-time friend Guerra.

“Blindness is defined as not being able to see. However, I believe Roel ‘sees’ and ‘hears’ just fine. He has seen the beauty of a productive life and a wonderfully happy marriage. He hears how much he has inspired us not to see the glass half empty, but half full. He inspires us to look on the bright side and see greener pastures.”

Guerra’s two children, Roxanne and Roel Jr., have followed in his footsteps in working for NRCS. Roxanne has served as a technical service provider in the Zone 3 office in Corpus Christi and Roel Jr. is currently a soil scientist in the Abilene office.

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(L to R) Arturo Ibarra, NRCS district conservationist in Willacy County; Roel Guerra, NRCS soil conservation technician in Rio Grande City; Tomas Dominguez, NRCS ASTC for field operations in Zone 3; and Becky Soto, employment assistance manager for the State of Texas DARS/DBS.(L to R) Arturo Ibarra, NRCS district conservationist in Willacy County; Roel Guerra, NRCS soil conservation technician in Rio Grande City; Tomas Dominguez, NRCS ASTC for field operations in Zone 3; and Becky Soto, employment assistance manager for the State of Texas DARS/DBS.

(L to R) Arturo Ibarra, NRCS district conservationist in Willacy County; Roel Guerra, NRCS soil conservation technician in Rio Grande City; Tomas Dominguez, NRCS ASTC for field operations in Zone 3; and Becky Soto, employment assistance manager for the State of Texas DARS/DBS.

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