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2015 National Earth Team Award Winners

Award Winners

 

NATIONAL EARTH TEAM VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD – CHIEF’S CUP

This award is presented by the Chief to the State that most creatively uses volunteers to meet the NRCS mission.

ARKANSAS- Pictured: Mike Sullivan, NRCS Arkansas State Conservationist, receives the Volunteer Service Award - Chief's Cup from NRCS Chief Jason Weller

State Conservationist Mike Sullivan and NRCS Chief Jason Weller

Every year, states compete to win the Chief’s Cup, presented for excellence in leadership support, innovation, training, service and achievements in the NRCS Earth Team volunteer program.

What made Arkansas this year’s winner? Outstanding support by management that resulted in 100-percent office participation statewide; a Volunteer Needs Assessment determined by each office; and funding to purchase staff awards and volunteer promotional items. Mike also reinforced the importance of the Earth Team program by asking field staffs about how they use volunteers and recognize their participation. 

Tamara Sneed, state volunteer coordinator for Arkansas NRCS, and three area coordinators, worked with field staffs to recruit new volunteers and provided training at area meetings. 

Arkansas uses the Wounded Warrior program, retired NRCS employees and “Friends of Conservation” volunteers to capture the hours donated by landowners and producers who have assisted NRCS field staffs.

Arkansas NRCS has implemented several projects that could not have been accomplished without the use of Earth Team volunteers. These include the Rain Gauge Program, which promotes water conservation; the Feral Swine Monitoring Program, which combats damage inflicted by wild hogs; installing conservation practices throughout the state ; and Grassroots Grazing, a group that encourages better forage production and increasing the use of grazing management.

Congratulations to Arkansas on an exceptional job with NRCS’ Earth Team program!

NATIONAL NACD/NRCS EARTH TEAM AWARD

This award recognizes one outstanding district nationally.  The award is presented to the most effective Earth Team in a conservation district which demonstrates shared leadership among district officials, NRCS employees and Earth Team volunteers.

Buffalo Conservation District, Marshall, Arkansas   Pictured left to right: Brent Clark, NRCS District Conservationist;  Ricky Reed, Buffalo Conservation District (BCD) Board Member; Lee McDaniel, President of NACD; Sid Lowrance, BCD Conservation Planner; Mike Sullivan, NRCS Arkansas State Conservationist.

Brent Clark, NRCS District Conservationist;  Ricky Reed, Buffalo Conservation District (BCD) Board Member; Lee McDaniel, President of NACD; Sid Lowrance, BCD Conservation Planner; Mike Sullivan, NRCS

The Buffalo Conservation District’s partnership with NRCS and the Earth Team volunteer program enabled the office to expand their conservation education program and reach participants outside of Farm Bill and Conservation Technical Assistance activities.  Through different projects they saw increases in awareness of their office and what the district and NRCS offers the public.   The district plays a strong role in providing outreach events in the county and in training and utilizing volunteers. Through this Earth Team partnership, the district sponsored 2 Envirothon teams promoting conservation education and scholarships for local youths; coordinated a Grassland Grazing Group Pasture walk; raised a USDA People’s Garden to provide fresh produce to a local food pantry; promoted wildlife conservation by distributing more than 6,000 pine seedlings and 85 tons of seed; conducted two fishing derbies for local youths, and participated in the Arkansas Rain Gauge program.

NRCS employees, the Buffalo Conservation District and Earth Team volunteers created a great partnership and working environment.  These entities, in corroboration with one another, allowed the ability to deliver exceptional and innovative service, fortify and revolutionize conservation delivery, augment and enlarge NRCS’s scientific and technical capabilities and expand outreach with clients and partners.  Congratulations to the Buffalo Conservation District in Marshall, Arkansas. 

NATIONAL EARTH TEAM PARTNERSHIP AWARD

This award recognizes one outstanding partnership nationally.  The award is presented to the most effective partnership that demonstrates shared leadership among the partnering organization, NRCS employees and Earth Team volunteers.

Presented to the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology (AACT) High School, Samantha Antipa & Monique Renteria, Reno, Nevada - Pictured  From left to right: Lee McDaniel, President of NACD; AACT High School Student Sam Antipa; AACT High School Student Monique Renteria; AACT Agriculture Teacher Michelle Burrows; NRCS People’s Garden Co-Lead Erin Hourihan; NRCS People’s Garden Co-Lead Heather Emmons; NRCS Chief Jason Weller.

Lee McDaniel, President of NACD; AACT High School Student Sam Antipa; AACT High School Student Monique Renteria; AACT Agriculture Teacher Michelle Burrows; NRCS People's Garden Co-Lead Erin Hourihan;

In an effort to include more of the community in the People’s Garden of Truckee Meadows and while providing opportunities for Academy of Arts. Careers and Technology (AACT) students to fulfill their academic requirements, NRCS Nevada entered into a partnership with AACT High School.  The People’s Garden is located in front of the Nevada State Office in Reno and right around the corner from the high school.

In FY 2015, two AACT seniors, Samanatha Antipa and Monique Renteria, chose to complete their senior capstone around the mission and goals of the People’s Garden and increase their leadership skills and abilities.  The students performed many duties including organizing volunteers, staining garden boxes, planting seeds and starter plants and hosting two field trips for One World Children’s Academy pre-kinder garden class.  These field trips help educate future generations about where their food originates and develops an appreciation of growing produce.

As Earth Team volunteers, Sam and Monique’s contributions helped elevate the Feds Feed Families program, expanded NRCS community presence and educated students.  Additionally, they gleaned over 1,000 pounds of produce from the garden and a local farmer’s market that was donated to local food pantries.   This partnership couldn’t have worked out any better as it continues to give students a place to put to good use the agricultural skills they are learning, as well as leadership skills and fulfilling their academic requirements, while benefiting the community through the produce they grow and glean.

National Earth Team NRCS Employee Award Winner

This award recognizes one NRCS employee nationally that has done an outstanding job working with volunteers.

Cory Guilliams, Harrisonburg, Virginia - Pictured:Cory Guilliams demonstrates proper tree-planting techniques at conservation field day.

Cory Guilliams demonstrates proper tree-planting techniques at conservation field day.As a former Earth Team volunteer, Cory Guilliams knows the importance of collaborating with partners like the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, to recruit volunteers for conservation projects and other activities. Cory has mentored Earth Team volunteers and guided their work in livestock water system design, conservation practice certification and soil analysis. He is a big believer in outreach to educate and inspire the next generation and works with volunteers through FFA and career fairs. Cory says that the Earth Team program opened the door for his career in conservation with NRCS.  He enjoys teaching and working with volunteers and feels that they are essential to the success of NRCS.  Thanks to Cory for all of his work with our agency and incorporating volunteers into that work.

 

National Earth Team Chief's Field Award Winner

This award recognizes one field office nationally based on how the office utilized volunteer resources and the accomplishments of the office due to the assistance of volunteers.

Marshall Field Service Center, Marshall, Arkansas - Pictured left to right: NRCS Chief Jason Weller;  Brent Clark, NRCS District Conservationist;  Ricky Reed, Buffalo Conservation District (BCD) Board Member; Sid Lowrance, BCD Conservation Planner

NRCS Chief Jason Weller;  Brent Clark, NRCS District Conservationist;  Ricky Reed, Buffalo Conservation District (BCD) Board Member; Sid Lowrance, BCD Conservation Planner

NRCS employees at the Marshall Field Service Center extends the NRCS mission of “Helping People Help the Land” to “Help More People Help the Land” through their effective use of the Earth Team volunteer program. Volunteers are selected for their skills and abilities, and help deliver excellent, innovative service, expand technical service and broaden outreach to new customers.

Earth Team volunteers have assisted the Marshall Office staff reach a diverse group of customers and achieve a number of new partnerships. Outreach activities made possible with volunteer assistance include conservation field days and pasture walks, fishing derbies, tree seedling distribution, judging contests and meetings with community organizations.

The Marshall Office relies on dedicated and skilled volunteers to help with the heavy workload and field office activities. Volunteers have played major roles assisting with Envirothons at the local, state and international levels to increase conservation knowledge in high school students and provide scholarship opportunities.

In Arkansas, the Marshall office is a leader in participation in the Feral Swine Initiative, created under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program. This is possible through their use of Earth Team volunteers to develop management plans to mitigate resource damage and evaluate practice effectiveness in reducing the feral hog impact areas. Volunteers helped develop and service EQIP contracts totaling more than $45,000 over more than 4,500 acres.

The Marshall Service Center’s outstanding partnership with the conservation district and the Earth Team is truly inspiring. Congratulations!

National Earth Team Individual Award Winner

This award recognizes one outstanding volunteer nationally.

Commander Theresa Everest, Escondido,California - Pictured: Commander Theresa Everest (right) and a landowner inspect an insect trap as part of an Integrated Pest Management  conservation practice.

Commander Theresa Everest (r) and a landowner inspect an insect trap as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) conservation practice.Commander Theresa Everest volunteered through Operation Warfighter, a Department of Defense internship, which matches Federal employers with qualified Service members. Although she had no previous agricultural experience, Commander Everest learned quickly and provided outreach to the equestrian community, assisted with conservation planning and served as the liaison to the local veterans’ community. In just four months, Commander Theresa Everest learned a great deal about agriculture and our agency. Additionally, NRCS employees learned a great deal from her, including how to interact with persons who have post-traumatic stress disorder and the sacrifice and the dedication required by those who serve in the armed forces. Our thanks goes out to Commander Theresa Everest. 

 

 

National Earth Team Group Award Winners

This award recognizes one outstanding volunteer group nationally.

New River Hill Farm, Galax, Virginia - Pictured: NRCS Resource Soil Scientist Jeannine Freyman uses a soil profile to highlight differences in soil types and their suitability for agriculture and other uses at a workshop on the New River Hill Farm.

NRCS Resource Soil Scientist Jeannine Freyman uses a soil profile to highlight differences in soil types and their suitability for agriculture and other uses at a workshop on the New River Hill Farm.In Southwest Virginia, a committed group of conservation professionals are working to cultivate the next crop of farmers, ranchers and soil scientists through a unique outdoor classroom on a working farm.  The New River Hill Farm is a 143-acre tract that offers hands-on learning experiences in sustainable farming practices in this economically depressed region of the state. “Farm to table” is a big focus for this outdoor classroom and volunteers planted a variety of crops and donated the produce to an area food bank. This is an excellent example of folks coming together to develop an outdoor learning experience for both students and adults.