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Earth Team Individuals Volunteer More than Just Time

Posted by Ciji Taylor, Natural Resources Conservation Service in Conservation
Feb 21, 2017
Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.
Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” For Matthew Roberts, the “who” was only a first step on a path that has led him to contribute more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service to the Wytheville, Virginia Service Center and his community.

Matt’s career coach thought the Earth Team program would be a great fit for the Wytheville Community College student and referred him to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Little did anyone know how good a fit that would turn out to be.

 Matt filled the void of a recently retired technician and made a remarkable impact on conservation implementation in the Wytheville office, essentially doubling office productivity.

“Matt’s exceptional work ethic and qualifications enabled him to work alongside our staff as a peer,” said Rodney Williams NRCS district conservationist in Wytheville.

While volunteering 40 hours or more a week during the summer, he assisted with surveying, inspected fencing and met with clients to discuss and implement conservation and environmental compliance plans.

Working with an NRCS soil scientist, Matt assisted in developing an extensive rotation grazing operation, which not only helped natural resources and the environment, but also improved the farming operations and productivity.

“Few volunteers are capable of working at this level,” said Williams. “He really understands and respects the scope and mission of NRCS.”

Matt hopes to one day become a perfect fit as one of NRCS’ conservationists.

The Earth Team volunteer program helps the agency meet conservation needs in communities. Volunteers enable NRCS to stretch available resources and help put additional conservation practices on the ground. Their efforts help improve land and wildlife habitat and contribute to cleaner water and air. Nationally, more than 25,000 volunteers donated 318,500 hours to the agency worth about $7.2 million last year.

This week, NRCS marks National Volunteer Week by recognizing the hard work of its thousands of volunteers, including Matthew Roberts.

Matt was one of four people selected for the Earth Team Individual Award. Other award-winning individuals include:

  • Lody Black – A senior in high school, Lody volunteered 262 hours at the Clay Center Service Center in Kansas. Through his assistance, the office was better able to provide timely assistance to farmers and ranchers.
  • Amanda Curry – A student at Florida State University, Amanda volunteered 354 hours at the Frenchtown Service Center in New Jersey helping to evaluate private lands for wildlife habitat, wetland restoration, stream enhancement and agronomic conservation practices.
  • Ricky Jones – A local community college student, Ricky volunteered nearly 200 hours at the Sonora Soil Survey Office in California. His work was an essential component of initial mapping in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park soil survey.

Get involved with the Earth Team volunteer program.

Ricky Jones helped the soil survey team with field sampling missions. NRCS photo.
Ricky Jones helped the soil survey team with field sampling missions. NRCS photo.
Category/Topic: Conservation