“This partnership couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology (AACT) Agriculture Teacher Michelle Burrows.
As part of a senior project to put their agricultural and leadership skills into practice, Earth Team volunteers Samantha (Sam) Antipa and Monique Renteria assist in the People’s Garden of Truckee Meadows. The seniors’ work is helping to grow healthy food and improve their community in Reno, Nevada.
People’s Gardens are growing all across America. They serve as launch pads for communities to eat healthy, connect to agriculture, and share sustainable landscaping practices. As Earth Team volunteers with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a People’s Garden supporter, Sam and Monique have built on partnerships established through the agency and the local farmers’ market.
Sam and Monique are educating students and the community about how NRCS helps private landowners improve soil and air quality, conserve water, and enhance wildlife habitats. As Planning and Planting Coordinator, Sam determined what crops would be planted and when, maintained the garden, and coordinated with other student volunteers. As Outreach Coordinator, Monique gleaned (collected excess food to donate to those in need) more than 1,000 pounds of produce for donation to USDA’s Feds Feed Families food drive, benefiting St. Vincent’s Dining Room.
Monique and Sam stained garden boxes, planted seeds and starter plants, and hosted two field trips for One World Children’s Academy pre-kindergarten class to educate future generations about where their food comes from and create an appreciation for agriculture.
“It’s definitely a win-win for NRCS and AACT,” said Erin Hourihan, NRCS Nevada ecological site specialist and co-lead for USDA’s People’s Garden in Nevada. “They [Sam and Monique] are also able to interact with a variety of natural resource professionals.”
For their outstanding achievements Earth Team volunteers, Sam, Monique and AACT were awarded NRCS’ 2016 National Earth Team Partnership Award. The award is presented to the most effective partnership that demonstrates shared leadership among the partnering organization, NRCS employees and Earth Team volunteers.
Earth Team volunteers work side-by-side with NRCS conservation professionals and are an integral part of the conservation partnership. More than 23,000 volunteers across the country donated 294,306 hours to the agency last year―time and work worth more than $6.8 million to the families in their communities.