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Earth Team Showcase—Tom Roth

Tom Roth giving a cover crop demonstrationTom Roth, Resource Conservationist, was the recipient of the Kansas Outstanding Employee Earth Team Award in fiscal year 2015.  Along with winning the award for the state, Tom also won the same award for the Central Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Region which covers 11 states.  Tom has actively recruited volunteers for the Manhattan Field Office and Area Office for several years.  By having good relations with Fort Riley and Kansas State University, he has helped the NRCS Manhattan Field Office and Area Office obtain volunteer hours.  Tom trained two volunteers about some of the work NRCS does which helped the volunteers decide if working for NRCS would be a career they would like to pursue.  He has also recruited volunteers for assistance in creating a cover crop plot to be used for educating producers about the importance of cover crops and their impact on soil health.

We are fortunate in many ways to have the Fort Riley community in our area.  Tom recruited two Fort Riley soldiers, one of which had been wounded in Iraq who was from the Wounded Warrior Brigade.  He took him to the field to demonstrate conservation practices and teach him about using geographic information system generated maps and Global Positioning System to measure drainage acres and how to take soil tests.  The soldier assisted Tom with the surveying and designing of several ponds.  The other soldier spent time with the area soil scientist to learn more about soils.

Tom works with the Kansas State University (KSU) Athletics Department to promote the Earth Team experience for any athlete who is majoring in agriculture or engineering.  For instance, he encouraged a senior who was a starting volleyball player and animal science major to volunteer sixteen hours to help stake cover crop plots, learn how to take soil tests, and assist with a comprehensive nutrient management plan for livestock waste.

Toni Flax, the state volunteer coordinator, said she appreciates Tom’s willingness to look outside-the-box to seek out potential volunteers, which has helped our agency while at the same time gave Kansas State students opportunities to explore conservation work and perhaps work for NRCS after graduating.  His enthusiasm is exceptional and he loves to tell people about the agency and the Earth Team program.  He is a good ambassador for NRCS by building lasting relationships with Kansas State University and our Fort Riley partners.