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national volunteer week

Next Crop of Farmers and Soil Scientists Cultivated on Working Farm/Outdoor Classroom

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating National Volunteer Week April 10-16, 2016, by thanking and honoring its Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation.

When Otis Donald Philen, Jr. decided to combine his working farm operation with an outdoor classroom, he knew just the group to help―the New River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Philen, director of the SWCD, and other conservation professionals partner with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve agricultural education and natural resource protection. In September 2014, New River became the first District in Virginia to own a working farm when Philen deeded a 143-acre tract to the district.

Veteran Now Serves Escondido Agriculture Community

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating National Volunteer Week April 10-16, 2016, by thanking and honoring its Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation.

After service in the U.S. Navy, that included deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan, Commander Theresa Everest knew farming was her next step.

Two traumatic brain injuries ended her career with the Navy and lead her to Operation Warfighter―a Department of Defense internship program that matches qualified wounded, ill and injured service members with federal agencies to gain valuable work experience during their recovery and rehabilitation. Everest became an Earth Team volunteer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Earth Team Individuals Volunteer More than Just Time

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.

USDA Scientists, Volunteers Map Soils under New Jersey's Barnegat Bay

Soil scientists don’t just map what’s under our feet but what’s below the water’s surface, too. Scientists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are mapping and documenting the permanently submerged subaqueous soils of Barnegat Bay, a troubled estuary in New Jersey that is home to environmentally-sensitive habitats.

The bay’s ecosystem has degraded over the years from pollution, human development and other causes. NRCS soil scientists are now working an inventory of the bay’s soils that will identify the sources of the estuary’s decline and aid in its restoration.

To make this happen, NRCS is collecting vibracores and field notes and describing soil samples as part of mapping the floor of the bay. Vibracores are samples of underwater soils collected in tubes.

Earth Team Volunteer Benefits USDA with Wetland Expertise

When not in class, Molly Stetz volunteered her time to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), assisting with the agency’s efforts to restore wetlands and curb other environmental concerns.

As part of National Volunteer Week, NRCS is celebrating the contributions of volunteers like Stetz that help the agency advance the conservation mission through Earth Team.

Stetz, a graduate student in wetland ecology at the State University of New York at Brockport, donated more than 900 hours to NRCS through the agency’s Earth Team volunteer program.

Earth Team Volunteers Help USDA Soil Scientists Collect Data in Remote Minnesota

A group of dedicated volunteers helped make it possible for soil scientists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to collect soil samples in remote parts of Minnesota.

Today kicks off National Volunteer Week, and NRCS is celebrating the hard work of Earth Team volunteers like the seven people in Minnesota who aided in the soil survey.

Earth Team volunteers, the agency’s volunteer corps, make a big difference, said Larissa Schmitt, a soil scientist with NRCS. “The volunteers’ wilderness skills were a huge time savings to the soil scientists,” she said.

Making a Big Difference Through the Simple Act of Gardening

It’s National Volunteer Week and an ideal time to share how USDA employees and partners are volunteering their time to green communities and provide fresh food to those in need.

It all started in 2009 when Agriculture Secretary Vilsack established a Department-wide volunteer program for the People’s Garden Initiative. He encouraged every USDA employee to get involved by volunteering time and expertise to create a People’s Garden - a challenge he then extended to all Americans.

Volunteers Shine at Sierra National Forest 2011 Volunteer Awards Ceremony

During an early April annual volunteer awards ceremony held in Clovis, Calif., the Sierra National Forest recognized the dedication, commitment and accomplishments of more than 400 individuals and groups that provided services valued at more than $770,000 to the forest in 2011.

“Our volunteers contributed over 35,000 hours of their personal time.  Their contributions are essential to our mission of ensuring forest health,” said Scott G. Armentrout, Forest Supervisor for the Sierra National Forest. “Their great ideas, hard work and inspiration toward ‘caring for the land and serving people’ helps to ensure our success.”

Volunteers Offer Helping Hands on the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama

For numerous years, the Bankhead National Forest has worked in partnership with a group of dedicated volunteers known as the Wild South Helping Hands Volunteer Group.

Every year, more than 50 volunteers return to the Bankhead National Forest to help protect and restore the native ecosystem of the southeast.