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Earth Team Volunteers | 2005 Awards

Earth Team Volunteer Awards

In 2005, Kansas had many worthy nominees for Earth Team awards. It is important that we take the opportunity to recognize those that have supported our program through their volunteer efforts. All of the Kansas award recipients were sent forward to be considered for national awards. This year's award winners for the state of Kansas are as follows:

Kansas Individual Earth Team Volunteer Award - Stacy Neilson

Stacy Neilson, District Manager at the Kinsley Field Office, has provided outstanding leadership for the Edwards County Conservation District. Stacy and her husband donate their time to manage a local recycling center. The district purchased an old warehouse that had been used for the recycling. The program was under poor management before the district purchased the property. The family volunteered their time to clean up the building and start the program. Two years ago the family separated and recycled 36 tons of material from the building. They started recycling five to seven tons per month. Their goal was to recycle 20 tons per month. They surpassed their goal by recycling a little over 55 tons of material per month. This has been a tremendous contribution to the environment by saving space in the land fill. It has also saved tax dollars by eliminating transfer fees for landfill disposal.

Stacy has also attended a grant writing program and has since received four grants for the recycling program. In addition, she has participated in the collection and distribution of bicycles in conjunction with the Ellsworth Correctional Facility Bicycle Recycling Program. She collected and transported bicycles to the prison. After repair of the bicycles, she arranged for them to be given to needy families.

Stacy was instrumental in locally organizing the national program, Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. She also helped in preparing over 100 food packages for the recipients of this program. Families received canned goods, food stores, and frozen venison.

Stacy is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished by one person working with others in the community. She has donated close to 1200 hours of her time.

Kansas Earth Team Group Award - Ark-River Water Festival

The Group Earth Team Volunteer Award was presented to the Ark-River Water Festival workshop. This was a combined effort of Finney, Gray, and Kearny County Conservation Districts. The group provided an educational opportunity for over 1400 fifth and sixth grade students. The Ark River Water Festival is an environmental science workshop that offers a diverse range of activities. The festival is designed to heighten students' awareness about water and other natural resources. Students from 34 classes attended 36 conservation-related presentations. Fifty-two volunteers assisted in this two day event. The youth of today are an important link in delivering the message of environmental concerns to their families. This has been a well received program.

Kansas Earth Team Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Employee Award - Carman Guries

Carman Guries served as the State Office Volunteer Coordinator for a little over one year. During that time, the volunteer hours reported for the state office doubled in the first six months and also the first three quarters of 2005. These increases in volunteer hours are attributed to Carman's positive attitude, which served to inspire volunteers to give of their time. In addition, the state office had a number of repeat volunteers due to the excellent volunteer experience they had under Carman's leadership.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Salina was utilized to meet many of the needs of the state office. Schools were used for some needs and to provide job experiences for students. Carman recruited a volunteer to participate in the Kansas Apprentice Program. This person worked at the field office in Salina. There are family members and retired employees whose skills were also utilized.

Carman used employees as volunteers. Some employees volunteered to take part in the Worldwide Monitoring Day activities. They sampled selected streams and reported the results. Others have volunteered for educational opportunities in the communities of the area.

Carman instigated the "First Annual Recognition Luncheon for State Office Volunteers." She coordinated with the Administrative Staff to pay for the luncheon and for thank you tokens presented to volunteers. She worked with a volunteer to develop a theme and invitations. Many NRCS employees used personal leave to attend the luncheon. This is an example of the respect that Carman's fellow employees have for her and her efforts to build the volunteer program. Appropriately, the 20th Anniversary of the Earth Team and 70th Anniversary of NRCS was also celebrated at the luncheon.

Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D)/NRCS Earth Team Award - Central Prairie RC&D

The Central Prairie RC&D Council had a significant Earth Team volunteer program in 2005. Sixteen council members and 273 volunteers worked a total of 23,417 hours. The council supported many outstanding projects and used volunteers to implement these projects. The council coordinated the bicycle recycling project with Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Approximately 500 bicycles were repaired and distributed to needy families. Fifteen hundred bicycles went to third world countries. This program is spreading to other Midwest correctional facilities and to Europe. The council was involved in many other programs such as safety camps, grant writing, and working to educate fire chiefs.

National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD)/NRCS Earth Team Award - Edwards County Conservation District and the Kinsley Field Office

The Edwards County Conservation District has been active in trying to preserve the natural resources in their county. In 2003, they purchased a warehouse that has been used as a recycling center. Volunteers cleaned and prepared the warehouse for recycling activities. The volume of recycling has increased from six to eight tons per month to 35 to 40 tons per month. The district has embarked on applying for grants to expand the recycling program. They are improving the facility and branching out into the community to provide opportunities to get involved. The district has also been involved in support of safety camps, health fairs, alternative energy workshops, and many other community support programs. The district has supported the bicycle recycling program. They have been a leader in the national program, Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. They aspire to their motto: "We must be a board for go, not a board for show."

Chief's Field Office Award - Fredonia Field Office

The Fredonia Field Office enlisted the help of two special volunteers (Norma and Josiah) to assist with clerical tasks and tasks out in the field.

Norma performed the following clerical tasks:

  • Sent birthday greeting cards and thank you notes to volunteers to thank them for their service.
  • Assisted with bulk mailings by copying, folding, labeling, typing or handwriting addresses, and affixing postage.
  • Performed typing and photocopying tasks needed to complete NRCS assignments.

Josiah volunteered four hours per week and performed the following tasks in the office and field:

  • Printed maps using Customer Service Toolkit and ArcGIS.
  • Helped with the National Crop Residue Management Survey by plotting the driving route on colored maps.
  • Assisted with writing letters to the landowners selected for compliance reviews.
  • Walked terraces as they were being checked out, checked fences in native pasture, and completed the stake out of buffer and filter strips. A Global Positioning System (GPS) unit was used while performing these tasks, which provided valuable information to Customer Service Toolkit farm plans.

The extensive use of these two volunteers is an example of how the volunteer program can provide relief of workload pressures and enable NRCS and conservation districts to focus on other important responsibilities instrumental in meeting the mission of the agency.

National Awards

Kansas was honored to receive two national awards. First, the Edwards County Conservation District and the Kinsley Field Office won the National NACD/NRCS Earth Team Award. They received their award at the National NACD convention in Houston. Kansas also won the Chief's Cup. This is the award given to the state with the most outstanding Earth Team program. Go Kansas!!!