WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today dedicated the USDA National Plant Materials Center in honor of pioneering conservationist Norman A. Berg who dedicated more than 70 years to the stewardship of working farm and ranch land.

"Norm's relentless work ethic, his pride in his community and his tireless dedication to the conservation of natural resources continue to make him a shining example of what is best about America," said Vilsack. "I am proud to be able to honor him with such a fitting tribute."

Norm Berg's far-reaching career began in 1943 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service (SCS) - a relatively new agency formed in response to the Dust Bowl, now named the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Berg rose through the agency's ranks, becoming associate administrator in 1969 and serving as Chief from 1979 until 1982.

"Chief Berg helped make NRCS the premier natural resource agency that it is today," said NRCS Chief Dave White.

Berg counseled countless farmers and ranchers on how to save their eroding land and was a tireless advocate of conservation districts that help local communities manage natural resources.

Upon retirement from public service, Berg became active with American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the Soil and Water Conservation Society, both national, nonprofit conservation organizations.

Until his death, Berg remained a committed conservationist, serving as senior advisor for AFT; the Washington, D.C. representative for the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS); and NRCS Chief Emeritus.

Berg passed away in March of 2008 at age 90. To honor Berg, Congress made renaming of the National Plant Materials Center a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill.