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Earth Team Volunteers Help Get Arboretum Ready for

Earth Team Volunteers Help Get Arboretum Ready for 15th Annual "Walk In The Woods"

Earth Team (ET) volunteers held a “work day” this fall to get the Riggs Arboretum, Waterloo, Kansas, ready for the 15th annual “Walk in the Woods.” Ten area schools sent 282 fifth graders and 21 teachers/adults to the event.

Kids select tree cookie name tagsUpon the students’ arrival and before visiting the six educational stations, they received a tree cookie necklace made from a fallen arboretum pine tree. The stations included Wildlife in the Woods, Stream/River Demonstration, Forest Benefits, Sawmill Demonstration, Tree Growth, and Project Learning Tree. After the stations, the students toured the Arboretum. Everyone attending ate a litter-free lunch in the woods. A big thanks goes to the dedicated ET volunteers and program partners who assist with the presentations, serve as group leaders, and make the event a success.

Chris Shrack, KDWPT


Glynn Hensley, NRCS


Chris Shrack, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism, talks to students about deer Glynn Hensley, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician, Kingman, demonstrates streamflow trailer
Dennis Carlson, KFS


John Riggs


Dennis Carlson, Forester, Kansas Forest Service, shows students how trees are made into lumber with a saw mill demonstration John Riggs leads tour through the Arboretum

The “Walk in the Woods” program is part of a national campaign, coordinated by the Society of American Foresters, designed to educate students and teachers on the benefits of forests and forest management.

The program is a cooperative project sponsored by the Great Plains Society of Foresters; Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Sunflower Resource Conservation and Development Council, Harper, Kansas; Forest Service; Kingman County Conservation District; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation (NRCS); Kingman County Farm Bureau; Waterloo Arboretum Committee, Waterloo; John Riggs, owner of Riggs Arboretum; and McDonald’s, Kingman.

Since the organization of local conservation districts in the 1930s, people have volunteered their time and talent to assist the NRCS in getting conservation on the land. Through the decades, volunteering has remained an important part of America’s conservation movement. Expanding the volunteer concept, congress passed legislation in 1981 that provided authority for NRCS to use volunteers.

It wasn't until 1985, when the Farm Bill increased the agency's workload, that leadership encouraged all states to begin using the National Volunteer Program to help achieve the agency's mission.

In 1985, the National Volunteer Program became the Earth Team—the volunteer arm of NRCS. The purpose of the ET is to expand NRCS services by using volunteer time, talent, and energy to help meet agency needs.

In fiscal year 2011, 3,513 Kansas Earth Team volunteers served 37,038.75 hours. The value of an hour of volunteer time for 2011 is $21.36 which equals $791,147.70.

ET volunteers are needed and appreciated. Interested in being an ET Volunteer, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office or conservation district office located at your local county U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at Also more information is available on the National ET Web site at The Kansas ET coordinator Jan Klaus can be reached by emailing Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Article provided by Pam Stasa, district manager, Kingman County Conservation District, Kingman