2012 Earth Team National Award Winners in Arkansas
Arkansas received four National Earth Team awards. The winners were:
Amanda Carrell, Jonesboro FSC, won the National Volunteer of the Year award.
Amanda is a 2012 graduate of the Arkansas State University (ASU) with a Bachelor’s Degree in plant and animal science. As a volunteer, she assisted NRCS specialists with wetland delineations and Wetlands Reserve Progeram restoration projects by completing field work and inventorying resources. Her assistance during the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) signup allowed the NRCS office in Jonesboro to complete 200+ MRBI applications for the 2012 Little River Ditches Watershed project. Amanda helped survey a 300-acre irrigation reservoir and assisted with the preliminary survey and layout of the reservoir and a tailwater recovery ditch. She worked at the FFA Land Judging Competition at the Arkansas State University (ASU) farm and helped install pits for the soils competition. As an ASU graduate student, Amanda continues to promote NRCS to ASU’s College of Agriculture students and is helping plan an NRCS Earth Team booth at an upcoming 2013 ASU volunteer fair.
The Randolph County CoCoRaHS Rain Gauge Group won the National Group Volunteer of the Year award.
Thirteen group volunteers worked a total of 412 hours to measure and input daily rain fall data into a CoCoRaHS on-line network. Group leader Brittney Yancy arranged the placement of 12 rain gauges throughout the county to get the best community exposure and trained the volunteers on inputting data into the CoCoRaHS Internet network. This project coincided with Arkansas’s worst drought in four decades. Ranchers were selling their livestock due to lack of forage. Hay was difficult to find and very expensive. NRCS was under a ‘no construction’ order on some structural practices due to the drought. The site-specific rainfall data collected by Earth Team volunteers is used for practice failures and modification support for NRCS programs, to help NRCS staff and customers make better site-specific determinations on vegetative plantings, and affects a host of other technical decisions on services we offer landowners.
Pictured are: Darrell Hoggard, volunteer; Brittney Yancy, volunteer group leader and college student; and Debbie Yancy, volunteer and district technician. There are 10 others in the group who are not in the photo.
Adam Eades, District Conservationist at the Pocahontas FSC, won the National Earth Team Employee of the Year.
The Pocahontas FSC won the state Earth Team Field Service Center of the Year, Group Volunteer of the Year and NRCS/AACD Partnership of the Year awards. Adam’s office reported 18 volunteers who worked 937 hours. After he conducted an office needs assessment, volunteer involvement in his office increased by 75 percent. “The most efficient way to manage a volunteer program is through a partnership with NRCS and the conservation district,” Adam said. Adam worked with staff and three volunteers to conduct the most successful warm season grazing workshop in Randolph County’s history. Volunteers were also utilized in tree planting activities, annual FFA soil judging training, a chainsaw safety workshop, conservation information day and cookout, a locally led workgroup meeting and the CoCoRaHS rain gauge project.
Arkansas won the Chief’s Cup award for the most innovative volunteer program in the nation.
Arkansas’s volunteer contributions in fiscal year 2012 equaled more than $361,665 in salary savings. Outstanding management and field support for the Earth Team resulted in 817 Earth Team volunteers who worked a total of 16,597 hours with 100 percent office participation – a 65 percent increase from the previous year. Volunteers in 2012 are the best we have ever had. Supervisors and co-workers nominate their volunteers for state awards that are presented during a formal ceremony each year. The Arkansas NRCS Business Plan requires district conservationists in every office to perform a ‘Volunteer Needs Assessment’ for their volunteer program. Arkansas has excellent support and cooperation from the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) management – especially through conservation education, a new statewide rain gauge measurement program and the presentation of Earth Team NRCS/AACD partnership awards at the annual AACD meeting. During a year of budget constraints, Arkansas increased its recruiting efforts at churches, universities, high schools, internet, community organizations, conservation partners and the public. A portion of our volunteers are specialists in their field. Volunteers helped us perform our mission with tasks ranging from engineering work and language translations to editing a Conservation Man newspaper column and measuring rainfall.
Pictured are: (left to right) Doris Washington, Mike Sullivan, state conservationist and Pat Hoeffken, Arkansas Earth Team volunteer coordinator.