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2018 Feature Stories

Employee Features for Public Service Recognition Week

Celebrated the first week of May since 1985 (beginning on the first Sunday of the month), Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable (PER)and its member organizations to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees.

In Alabama, we boast a committed staff of conservationists who focus daily on a mission to help people help the land. Meet them by clicking names, below.

Larry Hardy

Greg Dansby

April Jones

Walker Williams

Brandon Edmonds

Joey Koptis

Earth Team Volunteer Spotlight | Peace Dunu

‚ÄčThe Huntsville Field Office staff would like to honor our most ardent Earth Team Volunteer, Mrs. Peace Dunu.  She started volunteering with us in April 2017. She just came right in on that very first day with a “how can I be of help” attitude.  She is a lady who just must always have busy hands to accomplish all that she does.

Earth Team Volunteer Spotlight | Daphine Oliver

“We are having an educational program for students” is all you have to say before Lawrence County Volunteer Daphine Oliver asks when, “Where and what time do I need to be there?” Daphine has been a volunteer for seven years.

Earth Team Volunteer Spotlight | Calhoun County Conservation District Volunteers

The Calhoun County Conservation District and the NRCS served as the Agriculture and Natural Resources World Leaders for the East Alabama Region 2 Workforce Development Worlds of Work.  The District and the NRCS worked with East Alabama Works and the Calhoun County Chamber to showcase a variety of Agriculture related career opportunities at the event. 

Earth Team Volunteer Spotlight | Pam Mason

In the two years since taking on the role of State Volunteer Coordinator, Pam Mason has managed to make a big difference.During her time as a volunteer leader, Pam has increased our volunteer participation and hours. For her efforts, she was recently recognized by our national office!



2017 Feature Stories

Dixie Elementary School Hoop House Dedication

At Dixie Elementary School in Russell County they have many special things going on.  The most recent project is a Hoop House that they are extremely proud of.  Principal Paula Thompson and Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Quillope came to the local NRCS office over a year ago and wanted to know how they could get an agricultural program going.

Calhoun County Land Judging

The NRCS Anniston Field Office, Calhoun County SWCD, and the Calhoun County Youth Ag Fund partnered together to host the Central District land judging demonstration event for 15  schools, including 6 local schools (Alexandria, Ohatchee, Pell City, Pleasant Valley, Wellborn, and White Plains).The NRCS Anniston Field Office, Calhoun County SWCD, and the Calhoun County Youth Ag Fund partnered together to host the Central District land judging demonstration event for 15  schools, including 6 local schools (Alexandria, Ohatchee, Pell City, Pleasant Valley, Wellborn, and White Plains).

Cullman County Field Day

The Alabama Mountains, Rivers and Valley’s RC&D, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and USDA-NRCS conducted a Field Day in Cullman County designed to introduce new and beginning farmers to small farm pasture management equipment and farm management. 

Earth Team News | Troy University

This semester, Teresa Paglione has had the good fortune to have two volunteers form Troy University.  Both are graduating this semester and plan to pursue archaeology as a career, and now as Earth Team volunteers, they have been provided with “real world” experience in federal archaeology.  Elizabeth Garret, an Air Force veteran, actually signed up as a volunteer last summer.

2017 Alabama Cooperative Soil Survey Work Planning Conference

The Alabama Cooperative Soil Survey Work Planning Conference was held at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state office in Auburn, Alabama on April 18, 2017. The conference was moderated by Lawrence McGhee, State Soil Scientist. The purpose of the planning conference was to bring cooperators and other soil survey partners up-to-date on Cooperative Soil Survey efforts and Technical Soil Services in the State of Alabama and to look at future activities in the Soil Survey Program.

Barbour County Hosts 5th Annual Ag Day

The Barbour County Young Farmers and Barbour County Extension office held the 5th Annual AG Day for the third grade classrooms throughout the county, March 17.

Roughly 270 students and volunteers attended the event at Eufaula High School. The students rotated around ten stations, each focusing on an agriculture commodity or subject. The students held baby goats and sheep from local farmer Barret Stephenson’s farm. Continue Reading

Alabama State FFA Contest Highlights Soil Health

The Alabama State FFA Land Judging Contest was held on March 8, 2017 at the Holiday Farm in Lowndes County, Alabama. A dozen FFA teams representing three districts from across Alabama competed for the top banner. The event was hosted by Mr. Ronnie Holiday of Holiday Farms, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and Lowndes County Soil and Water Conservation District. The event was organized and judged by NRCS State, Area, and local Field Office staff.  Pete Wheeler is the District Conservationist for Dallas and Lowndes Counties. Continue Reading

Limestone Co. Continues Watershed Approach to Conservation

In 2014, The Limestone County Soil and Water Conservation District started a watershed partnership with stakeholders interested in improving water quality for local streams.  That same watershed approach to conservation continues into 2017 with the "kickoff" for the Shoal Creek and Swan Creek watershed project. Continue Reading

Veterans Helping Veterans

Nested among the verdant rolling hills of Russell and Chambers counties, are “Quiet Oak” and “Veterans Funny Farm LLC” owned and operated by Veteran Nimrod Stephens (Army) and Veteran Jeffery Whaley (Air Force) respectively.   They acquired their Tunnel Houses under the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Continue Reading


2016 Feature Stories

Nathan Mangrum looks at a display of artifacts.North Team Hosts Cultural Diversity Day 2016

The North Team observed Cultural Diversity Day this fiscal year with a visit to the Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Education Center in Danville, Alabama, on September 20.  North Team participants began day in the education center and learned about Alabama Native American history via a presentation by the facility’s Cultural Resource Specialist, Anna Mullican.  The program highlighted portions of the center’s extensive collection of Native American artifacts found in Alabama, some dating back over 10,000 years.

Visits to the park’s two Indian mounds gave participants an opportunity to connect even more directly with the area’s history and native people.  The Oakville Ceremonial Woodland Mound covers 1.5 acres of land is approximately 27 feet high.

Its wide flat top was likely used for ceremonial purposes sometime during the period between 1,000 B.C. to 1,000 A.D.  The park’s second mound, a burial site called the Oakville Copena Mound, rises almost 20 feet high.  The mound likely holds the remains of 180-200 Native Americans. Read More.

Mobile County High Tunnel DedicationHigh Tunnel Dedicated at Craighead Elementary School

Mobile County's NRCS staff participated in a high tunnel dedication at Craighead Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama. The purpose of the high tunnel project is to provide elementary age students hands-on science-based experience in growing their own food.  The high tunnel will allow the students to grow crops year around.  The high tunnel was a joint project of NRCS, Gulf Coast RC&D, FSA, Mobile County Conservation District and Alabama Conservation Districts.  Continuing education will be provided by Alabama Extension Service.  Alabama Forestry Commission donated time to help finish the project. Read More.

Conserve Alabama LogoMemo | Changes to Conserve Alabama

The Conserve Alabama campaign has enabled us to communicate a message of conservation in a way that is relatable to a larger population. Even to those outside our circle, that phrase -- Conserve Alabama

-- piques interest and opens the door to a greater conversation about supporting conservation on private land which is, of course, our end game.

Since the launch of the campaign in March 2016, we’ve been very pleased with the response. New doors have opened and our message about conservation is reaching a new audience. But we want to ensure our message stays on point and does not create confusion about who we are. Along the way, we’ve learned how to better implement the campaign and identify the districts. More.

George's Farmers Market

Isaac and Bradley Robertson proudly hosted the Grand Opening and formal Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of their new farmers market, George’s Farmers Market, on Friday, August 5th, 2016. The market sits on a Piedmont hill overlooking acres of row-crop land, pastures, ponds, and longleaf pine timber stands and claims a family name – George’s Farmers Market. The Robertson’s emphasize the sale of farm-fresh produce grown on their farm as well as other products produced locally (honey, eggs, jellies, baked goods and more). Isaac Robertson is a progressive young farmer and is no stranger to resource conservation, best management practices (BMPs), and good agricultural practices (GAPs), which should carry over to the market operation. Read more.

NRCS's Daniel Collins (right) and land owner Blaine Bateman (center) work with the Opp Fire Dept. to certify the Dry Hydrant

NRCS and Local SWCD Help Opp Residents Protect Home

The Covington County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) along with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) assisted local residents with the design and installation of a Dry Hydrant.

This was the first dry hydrant to be installed in the Opp Fire Department’s fire district, however, dry hydrants are not new to Covington County. The SWCD and NRCS have helped design and install more than 20 dry hydrants over the last 15 years. Read More...


Pathways Internship Group

Student Intern Spotlights | Summer 2016

Jaylan Hancock is from Clay County, Tennessee and I am currently the Soil Science Trainee in the Normal, Alabama MRLA office on the campus of Alabama A&M University. I am attending Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN, where I am currently a junior in the field of Environmental Agriscience and will graduate in December 2017. More.

Cedric Williams is a native of Beatrice, AL, a small town located in North Monroe County. He is an alumni of J. F. Shields High School. In December 2013, Cedric earned his B.S. degree in Agribusiness Management with a minor in Geographical Information Systems from Alabama A&M University (AAMU). More

Daniel Williams is a student at Auburn University. Williams is a senior studying agronomy and soils. He plans to graduate this December. Williams is interning in our USDA-NRCS Field Office in Gadsden, Alabama this summer. He is learning to assist with certification and payment on practices, survey and layout of a 28 acre irrigation pond, HEL determination, and developing and implementing conservation plans. More.

Randi Butler is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She attends the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, where she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree and specializing in Hydrology. She will gradate with a Masters of Natural Resources in this coming fall. Randi received her Bachelors of Science degree in 2012 from Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. More.

Trey Reich The Loxley Soil Survey Office (SSO) would like to welcome and introduce Ray (Trey) Allen Reich as a Pathways Student and a School of Geosciences intern for the summer of 2016. More.

Tomeesa Shedd This summer, the Cullman Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to have Tomeesa Shedd as an intern. Tomeesa is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. More.


Kayaking for Youth Corps

NRCS Current and Retired Employees Making a Difference with Youth Corps

Alabama Mountains, Rivers and Valleys RC&D (AMRV-RC&D) recently completed a Youth Corp Pilot Project that was designed to develop and train tomorrow’s leaders by introducing and engaging youth in leadership development, team building through healthy outdoor physical activities and identifying and addressing community needs.

The idea was to develop team and individual confidence, self-esteem, and leadership through a process involving outdoor activities and mentoring. The Youth Corp Camp tapped into the knowledge, leadership and life skills of successful industry, education, legislative (Representative Terri Collins) and Agency leaders to learn how to build skills to identify and implement solutions for problems in their own communities. More.


Elba High Tunnel

High Tunnel Demonstration | Coffee County

It was a crisp and clear spring morning down in the Glory Land (South Alabama that is).  The sky was blue and the bees were buzzing from bloom to bloom at Hall’s Produce Garden in Elba.  It was shaping up to be a perfect day for the Coffee County Conservation District’s High Tunnel House demonstration and outreach meeting.  Mr. Hall recently installed two High Tunnel houses on his property with assistance from The Natural Resources Conservation Service. More.


Beth Chastain and Youth.Butler County Youth Camp

Spending over 72 hours in the deep woods of Butler County is not the typical way most sixth graders would want to start their summer vacation; however, for 28 students from across Butler County, that is exactly what they chose to do this past June.    

The Natural Resources Youth Camp is sponsored annually by the Butler County Forestry Planning Committee (FPC), with tremendous support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Butler County Soil Conservation Committee, Alabama Forestry Commission, Farm Service Agency, local businesses, and interested individuals. Because of such support, the FPC has offered this “hands-on” camp for area sixth grade students – at no cost – for the last 21 years. Once selected by their school science teacher and principal to attend the camp, students spend three days and two nights at Mussel Creek Hunting Lodge, a rustic cabin located on private property in north Butler County. Campers leave behind their smart phones, iPads, Kindles, NOOKs, televisions, radios, and text messaging to take part in this one-of-a-kind adventure. More.