skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Safe Chemicals
Defending the Clean Air Act

Claire O'Connor, Policy Analyst, Santa Monica

Claire O'Connor
I grew up on a multi-generational family farm in Nebraska. My dad and grandpa taught me the importance of being a good steward of the land and having respect for natural resources — the family business depends on healthy soil and water! After a stint in D.C., I headed out to California to join NRDC and advocate for sustainable farming practices, particularly with regard to water resources. Although I’m not a “steward” in the same way as my family in Nebraska, I try to promote the same principles they taught me and promote safe, healthy, and sustainable food production in the United States.

Recent Posts

Using compost to improve soil health and crop productivity

Posted August 11, 2014 by Claire O'Connor in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

, , , , ,

Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, I spent most summer afternoons outside, exploring, digging, and collecting “treasures”—usually rocks, feathers, bugs, and other lovely items I’m sure my mother was thrilled to have me drag into the house.  These days,...continued

A Tale of Two Farms: How Water Efficiency could help Drought-Proof California Farms

Posted June 5, 2014 by Claire O'Connor in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , ,

This article was written jointly with Heather Cooley, Director of the Pacific Institute's Water Program, and is cross-posted at the Pacific Institute's website. For many California farmers, this growing season has been the “worst of times”. While all of the...continued

Health, happiness, and financial stability on the farm: John Reganold is a 2014 NRDC Growing Green Award Winner

Posted May 15, 2014 by Claire O'Connor in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

, , , ,

If you ever visit Washington State University’s certified organic teaching farm, chances are you’ll find Regents Professor John Reganold there, bent over and closely examining a handful of soil, but don’t mistake him for being myopic.  This 2014 NRDC Growing...continued

"We don't know what normal is anymore": Confronting Extreme Weather on U.S. Farms

Posted May 1, 2014 by Claire O'Connor in Living Sustainably

, , , ,

Matt Russell has seen strange weather before.  As a fifth-generation Iowa farmer, he’s used to being at the whims of the skies.  But ominous changes are underway at his Coyote Run Farm, and lately, he’s been trying to cope with...continued

A 'Dry Day Fund' for California Farms

Posted February 25, 2014 by Claire O'Connor in Living Sustainably

, , , , , , ,

My grandfather, Art, is 82 years old.  I’d say he’s been farming for about 80 years, give or take a few months.  He’s supposedly “retired” now, but he’s still out in the field every day with my dad during planting...continued

5 Signs of Healthy Soil in Honor of World Soil Day

Posted December 5, 2013 by Claire O'Connor in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (4)

There’s so much to celebrate during this time of year.  But have you stopped to think about where your holiday dinner comes from?  Today, December 5, let’s take a moment to celebrate the amazing resource that makes all of our...continued

Farmers Reap Benefits as No-Till Adoption Rises

Posted November 14, 2013 by Claire O'Connor in Curbing Pollution, Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , ,

Comments (2)

A recent Washington Post article hailed the increased adoption of no-till farming in the United States.  As I’ve previously written, no-till farmers plant directly into the stubble of the previous year’s crop. The stubble acts like a garden mulch, protecting...continued

Soil Matters: How the Federal Crop Insurance Program can encourage farming methods to build soil health and resilience against extreme weather

Posted August 26, 2013 by Claire O'Connor in Curbing Pollution, Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In 2012, farmers in my home state of Nebraska lost $1.5 billion worth of crops. $177 million of that was just due to heat.  $35 million due to hot wind.  And $1.2 billion due to drought.  In fact, 92% of...continued

How the 2012 drought could lead to one of the largest Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zones" ever recorded

Posted June 20, 2013 by Claire O'Connor in Curbing Pollution

, , , , , , , , ,

It looks like this year’s “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be one for the record books.  Scientific experts predict that the annual, low-oxygen area that suffocates fish, shellfish, and other marine life will be one of the...continued

Good food on the menu for Los Angeles school children

Posted November 15, 2012 by Claire O'Connor in Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , ,

Growing up, I ate school lunch at my rural public school every single day.  The head cook at Hamlow Elementary, Mrs. Hummel, was as sweet as her famous cinnamon rolls.  She was like everyone’s grandmother, and she wanted each one...continued

Taxpayers on the line for Midwestern drought losses; good stewardship can limit damages

Posted August 30, 2012 by Claire O'Connor in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , , ,

All summer long, news outlets have been chock-full of rather depressing headlines about the record-breaking drought gripping the center portion of the country.  Although it’s too soon to tell just how bad this year’s crops will be, my sources in...continued

Farming in Today's Weather: "Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you"

Posted July 24, 2012 by Claire O'Connor in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (3)

Last weekend, I returned to my home state of Nebraska to celebrate the marriage of two dear friends.  The outdoor ceremony was lovely, and good times were had by all, but the happy young couple was nearly upstaged by an...continued


Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

Feeds: Claire O'Connor’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In