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Earth Team Volunteers | 2008 Awards

2008 Kansas Earth Team Volunteer Awards

Many excellent nominations for the Earth Team (ET) Volunteer Awards were received for Fiscal Year 2008. All state award winners are forwarded to the national office for consideration for recognition at the national level. The 2008 ET award winners for the Kansas NRCS are as follows:

Individual – Ms. Suann Bolton

Suann assists the NRCS Fredonia Field Office and the Wilson County Conservation District with numerous activities throughout the year. As a group leader at the 6th Grade Conservation Field Day, she led groups of 6th graders from station to station throughout the day. She has assisted with the Gooey Garbage station at the Quad-County Water Festival and helped with the set up and take down of the stations without being an assigned duty. She prepared and presented "Dirt Pies" having kids make edible soil layers at the Wildlife Tree Party. She was the chairperson of the annual trip to the Wichita Garden Show and helped with the annual Plant Swap. Suann has been the breakfast chairperson for the annual Wilson County Wildflower Tour, the largest wildflower tour in the state, for the past several years. She was crucial to the success of the first ever Community Water Festival and has been the secretary of the Conservation Auxiliary this past year.

Group – Flint Hills Native Stones

The Flint Hills Native Stones Volunteer Group also known as the Special Events Volunteers group has been beneficial in assisting with educational events. Those events include the WabCo Wet & Wild Water Festival/Ag Day, the E.A.R.T.H. program, and the Range Seminar Field Day. Each of these events requires assistance from several adult and student volunteers. A selected group of top-level high school students use their skills in different areas in the classroom and are now sharing their knowledge with the younger students. The comments from the students after participating in these programs have been very positive and will influence how they protect our environment for years to come. Articles on each of the activity days are submitted to local newspapers to increase public awareness.

Photos of Flint Hills Native Stones Volunteers

NRCS Employee – Mr. M. Daniel Curtis II

Dan is the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Coordinator for the Central Prairie RC&D in Great Bend. He has assisted the council by recruiting, training, and supervising the efforts of 248 volunteers in Fiscal Year 2008. Those volunteers contributed 5,647 hours directly to 29 projects. Dan enjoys helping the council members grow in their leadership capacity. The Central Prairie RC&D has made significant strides to improve and develop the quality of life in communities it serves.

RC&D/NRCS – Central Prairie RC&D Council

The Central Prairie RC&D Council is in its seventh year of existence. In 2008, 248 volunteers contributed 5,647 volunteer hours directly to 29 Council projects and nearly 60 money-raising events, developing new business’s starting jobs, building a fire station, coordinating giving hundreds of reconditioned bicycles to children, distributing thousands of pounds of venison to help feed the hungry, sending 165 World War II veterans on Honor Flights to Washington, D.C. to see the WW II Memorial, and identifying the dangers of Brownfield contaminations. The Central Prairie RC&D Council has made significant strides to improve and develop the quality of life in the communities it serves. Earth Team Volunteers preparing Honor Flight materials.

National Association of Conservation District (NACD)/NRCS – Cheyenne County Conservation District (CD)

The Cheyenne County CD in St. Francis have been ambassadors for conservation and promote the ideal that this "job" is obviously worth doing. This presents a positive image that triggers a desire in others to be a part of the effort. People want to be part of something that is both fun and worthwhile. In Fiscal Year 2008, the five Cheyenne CD board of supervisors contributed 76 hours of volunteer service above and beyond what was required of their elected positions. Besides time spent representing their county at state and area meetings, board members participated in conservation programs presented to Cheylin and St. Francis schools, both in the classroom and as part of an all-day sixth grade conservation tour. Being farmers and ranchers, they are able to share with the children their "real life" experiences and commitment to conservation. Some Cheyenne County Conservation District board member do a spot check.

Volunteer Coordinator – Jeffrey K. Schmidt

Jeff is the NRCS Area 3 Earth Team Volunteer (ET) Coordinator. He has provided leadership to the field offices in his area in program support and assistance with the Earth Team program. In 2004, Jeff became the area coordinator for what was then Area 5 in southeast Kansas. At that time, Area 5 was composed of 21 field offices and two Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) offices. Jeff held the coordinator position for three years until the NRCS Kansas areas were restructured in October 2007. The five areas became three and Jeff assumed more duties as a district conservationist. A new ET coordinator was named for the area. However, the coordinator retired in July 2008, and Jeff once again said "Yes" to the call as Area 3 Coordinator now with 38 field offices and four RC&D offices. In Fiscal Year 2008, 100 percent of the offices in Jeff’s area had 1,410 volunteers that contributed 17,878 hours.

Chief's FO Award – Kingman Field Office (FO)

The Kingman FO and the Kingman County Conservation District (CD) had 41 volunteers that contributed a total of 291 hours during Fiscal Year 2008. This FO operated with two people for the most of the year. Being the only NRCS employee in the office, the district conservationist (DC) had to be creative in the completion of the work. The DC maintained a relationship with a retired NRCS DC and used him on many occasions to assist with fieldwork and practice surveys. The office also used a volunteer to occupy the office and answer phones when both of them had to be out of the office. This FO initiated the implementation of a recycling center, which is operated out of the CD building with the district manager devoting quite a few hours of her own time to the center along with many other volunteers. The FO and the CD also sponsor a yearly range and beef tour along with a “Walk-in-the-Woods” outdoor educational activity in which 5th graders walk through seven learning stations. These educational activities strengthen the whole community as well as the surrounding areas. Children who many not have the opportunity to experience life on the farm are able to see first hand what the day-to-day operations entail.

District Manager – Cheri Miller, Wyandotte County

Cheri Miller is the district manager for the Wyandotte County Conservation District. Cheri has organized 24 outreach activities in Fiscal Year 2008 involving 176 volunteers who donated 2,273 hours. Cheri collaborated with 46 different grass roots organizations to promote the conservation of our natural resources in a highly urbanized county. The volunteer program that Cheri has built over the past couple of years has surpassed all previous coordination efforts. As a result, she has exposed Wyandotte County students and adults to various agencies, organizations, and local groups that provide assistance within the county to protect and enhance the natural resources. All programs organized by Cheri consist of hands-on activities. Sixteen educational programs and activities were presented to 28,547 students from kindergarten thru high school. Volunteers assisted Cheri in not only providing conservation information to adults but also actively involving them in the Kaw and Missouri River clean up. Approximately 1,545 adults including teachers, neighborhood associations, and the general public participated in 16 activities. Cheri Miller leads students to their stations during Water Rally.