By Jan M. Klaus, Earth Team Coordinator
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Kansas Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has a volunteer program called Earth Team that may be just what you are looking for. Kansas NRCS offices are always looking for volunteers to assist with their mission of “Helping People Help the Land.”
During 2013, 2,560 citizens volunteered their time and talents to the Kansas NRCS and the conservation districts. These volunteers donated 19,190 hours. More than a few of these people were first time volunteers and probably thought, "What can I do?" Well, no matter what your talents, interests, age, or physical ability, there is a volunteer opportunity for you. Here are a few examples:
Schools benefit from conservation tours, exhibits, poster contests, and festivals. Volunteers are needed to help organize events, conduct classes, take pictures, cook food, write news articles, and chaperon students. And lastly, one of the most appreciated jobs a volunteer can do is support staff and save them time and steps.
Town and community groups benefit from educational meetings and publications. Volunteers are needed to present programs and speak about conservation issues. Volunteers with a history in writing can produce publications and artwork.
Field office support is needed. This can include opportunities assisting with monthly newsletters, judging poster and essay contests, phone and office support when staff is not available, and lastly, clerical assistance to help organize and file.
Working in the outdoors presents many other opportunities for volunteers. Outdoor activities include assisting the professional staff as they work directly with farmers and ranchers. Volunteers can take notes and assist with survey equipment, take natural resource inventories, and assist in improving wildlife habitats. It is important to preserve habitat for pheasant, quail, prairie chicken, and many other native wildlife species that inhabit farms and ranches.
Other outdoor activities that need volunteer assistance are the planning of community beautification and projects for water quality and erosion control. Volunteers are greatly appreciated and can be the essential link in developing programs which benefit their own community.
Volunteers are needed and appreciated. If you would like to join other Kansas residents who already donate their time to conserve and protect our natural resources, visit your local NRCS office or conservation district office to learn more about being an Earth Team volunteer. The office is located at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov). More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov. Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.