USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA) have partnered in a pilot project to provide new opportunities for Native American high school students across the west.
Morgan Boggs, a high school senior in Browning, Montana, was one of three Montana high school seniors selected by INCA. Through this pilot program, students sign up as NRCS Earth Team volunteers to work side-by-side with NRCS professionals. This on-the-job training increases the students’ qualifications for the USDA Pathways Internship Program, which employs college students working toward a degree in natural resources.
Boggs began working as an Earth Team volunteer in June under the supervision of Anne Stephens, District Conservationist for the Blackfeet Reservation. As an Earth Team volunteer, he spent the summer gaining field experience in a variety of natural resource areas, including basic soils, livestock water design, fencing, irrigation practices and rangeland inventory.
“I identified different plants and grasses and clipped grasses using the rings to determine forage production,” said Boggs.
Boggs also gained insight into Tribal government and NRCS partnerships and what working in the government involves.
“My Earth Team job with NRCS and INCA has been a very helpful daily job. I’ve learned that everyone in this department works hard to get contracts finished and other projects done,” Boggs said. “I’d very much recommend this job to anyone who asked me about it, especially if they are someone like me who likes to be outside in the nice weather – although sometimes it gets pretty hot out.”
NRCS’ 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. Volunteers’ efforts help improve land and wildlife habitat and contribute to cleaner water and air – even if they are working behind the scenes in an office. Nationally, more than 25,000 volunteers donated 318,500 hours to the agency worth about $7.2 million last year.
To learn more about NRCS’ Earth Team Volunteer program visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/volunteers/.