USDA honors Virginia conservation volunteers during National Volunteer Week

usdaThe USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is honoring Virginia Earth Team volunteers and celebrating their many contributions to natural resource protection during National Volunteer Week, April 7-13.

Earth Team is a program that allows NRCS to stretch available resources by partnering volunteers with employees to provide a wide range of service to private landowners and the public. These activities can include conservation technical assistance, office support, and teaching and generating awareness about conservation through community projects.

“Earth Team volunteers are important conservation allies,” said State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “Their work allows us to stretch available resources and put more conservation practices on the ground. Last year, we ranked ninth in the nation in the number of conservation volunteers with 1,219 Virginians donating more than 11,200 hours of service because they believe in our critical conservation work.”

In today’s tight economy, volunteers can help agencies continue providing services with fewer employees. Virginia’s Earth Team provided about $299,753* of benefit to our customers and taxpayers in 2018. Here are just a few examples of the outstanding work being done throughout the state to help improve lands and wildlife habitat and contribute to cleaner water and air for everyone:

  • A team of three Emory & Henry College students has donated nearly 200 hours to conservation education programs, including farm field days, Dominion Energy Envirothons, and the Sugar Hollow Park Great Outdoors Learning Dome (GOLD). Hands-on learning experiences included an intergenerational geocache activity, a summer scavenger hunt for wetland animals, and over eight miles of trail maintenance (2018 Southeast Region Group Volunteer Award).
  • In Prince William County, Duane Mohr has donated more than 500 hours to assist local residents with urban and suburban storm water management, provide youth education programs, and write conservation plans for almost 900 acres of pasture, hay, and traditional row crop fields (2018 Southeast Region and National Individual Volunteer Award).

Created in 1985, Earth Team offers many opportunities to individuals 14 and older who are interested in volunteering to improve the nation’s natural resources. Learn more about Virginia’s Earth Team Program by visiting our website or calling Barbara Bowen at (804) 287-1679. Contact your local NRCS office to learn more about needs in your area.

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