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Earth Team Volunteer Brings Home the FFA National Proficiency Award in Vegetable Production

Posted by Chris Coulon, NRCS Ohio in Conservation
Nov 28, 2011
Mallory McDevitt of Wapakoneta, Ohio in her one-acre organic garden.
Mallory McDevitt of Wapakoneta, Ohio in her one-acre organic garden.

Mallory McDevitt of Wapakoneta, Ohio, is a real go-getter. This 18-year-old high school senior has been an Earth Team Volunteer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) since she was 14. She also serves as the Wapakoneta FFA Chapter Vice President.

As if school, FFA and volunteer activities weren’t enough, McDevitt also owns and operates her own business, Mal’s Garden and Landscaping. She manages and operates a one-acre organic garden, both selling and donating her produce.

For her extraordinary gardening accomplishments, McDevitt was awarded first place by Ohio FFA in the Proficiency Awards, Vegetable Production Category. She went on to take the category at the National FFA conference!

When the Feds Feed Families food drive, the federal government’s annual summer-long effort to donate food to those in need, was announced this year, McDevitt saw an opportunity to help, and offered to coordinate the food drive for NRCS’ Wapakoneta Field Office.

McDevitt worked with the organization that would receive the donations, Mercy Unlimited, Inc., of Wapakoneta and delivered the food collections to them weekly. She also charted weekly progress toward the office’s goal of collecting 500 lbs. of canned food so everyone could see how they were doing.

McDevitt also challenged herself to match the field office’s canned donations with an equal amount (in weight) of fresh produce from her garden.

Anyone who has ever gardened, particularly using organic methods, knows the work that goes into growing that quantity of food. It requires a lot of know-how, patience, perseverance and labor to have even a small productive garden, let alone an entire acre.

But for McDevitt, the personal challenge made it even more interesting. And seeing the joy others experience from her generosity and effort is tremendously rewarding.

Ultimately, the Wapakoneta Field Office donated almost 600 lbs. of canned products to the Feds Feed Families effort, and Mallory donated 612 lbs. of her produce—mostly tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons and peppers. After the food drive ended, Mallory continued to donate the fruits of her labor for the rest of the garden season—which ended up being an additional 304 lbs.!

In 2010, more than 30,000 Earth Team volunteers donated 641,735 hours of service to NRCS estimated to be worth $13.4 million. Since Earth Team was formed in 1985, over half a million volunteers have donated an estimated $327 million worth of time, in 2010 dollars, helping NRCS with its conservation mission.

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Category/Topic: Conservation