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News Release

Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District Receives Indiana Earth Team Award

Indianapolis, January 13, 2014 - The Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Earth Team Volunteers and conservation partnership staff was honored with the 2013 Indiana United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Earth Team Award at the 2014 Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Annual Conference on Tuesday.

Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist for the Indiana NRCS explained that the Earth Team Award is presented each year to a team of deserving Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors, conservation partnership staff and Earth Team volunteers at the local level for their work in advancing our common conservation and natural resource protection goals. “It’s all about partnership for us in Indiana. Watching groups like this work together to make good things happen is one of the highlights of my job.”

The Earth Team Volunteer Program was established by Congress in 1981 and allows NRCS to use volunteers in all of its programs. During Fiscal Year 2013, nearly 2,000 Indiana Earth Team volunteers donated almost 18,000 hours of their time in over 80 percent of the field offices around the state. The value of this work is calculated at approximately $400,000. According to Hardisty that is approximately five full time staff years of assistance that helps the agency continue to carry out an effective conservation program here in the state.

Each year, more children do not fully understand where their food comes from or the importance of conserving natural resources for future generations. In response to this need, the Montgomery County SWCD developed a day-long, outdoor learning experience sixteen years ago and continues today. While these lessons can be taught in a classroom setting, a hands-on experience gives students a sense of how important these topics really are and leaves them with a positive impression.

Each year, the SWCD invites all fourth grade students in Montgomery County to participate in a hands-on learning experience on a working farm. Youth participate in activities that teach them about wildlife, soils and erosion, entomology, forestry, water quality, prairie grasses, and the water cycle. The sessions are taught by local conservation professionals and students involved in the local Future Farmers of America. FFA students build confidence and leadership skills as they teach youth about the water cycle.

In 2013, approximately 460 fourth graders participated in the field day with the help of more than 50 individual volunteers who donated over 400 hours of their time.

Hardisty said, “As an agency we have many priorities and because of that we rely heavily on our conservation partners in helping us with outreach and education. Projects like this that connect our youth with farming and agriculture and teach them about the importance of caring for our natural resources are vital to our future as a nation. It is a pleasure to recognize the team in Montgomery County for their hard work.”

For more information about NRCS’ Earth Team Volunteer Program, visit the Indiana NRCS Earth Team Volunteer website at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/people/volunteers/. To learn about volunteer opportunities in your area, contact your local service center: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/

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Contacts:
Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317-295-5801
Kris Vance, State Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator, 317-295-5822
Rebecca Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317-295-5825