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Louisiana's Earth Team Receives National Award in Washington, DC

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Louisiana's Earth Team Receives National Award in Washington, DC

On Monday April 26, 2010, the Louisiana’s Earth Team - Fast Food Farm group was presented with a national award at the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) headquarters in Washington, DC. The Earth Team Group Volunteer Award recognized one outstanding volunteer group in each of our three geographic regions, from among whom one national winner was selected. New River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Secretary and Earth Team Volunteer, Gayle Roussel, accepted the award on behalf of the Fast Food Farm group. The volunteer group provides service to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Donaldsonville Field Office in Convent, Louisiana.

The award was presented by five distinguished NRCS guests including NRCS Chief, Dave White; USDA Deputy Under Secretary, Ann Mills; National Volunteer Coordinator, Michelle Eginoire; First NRCS National Earth Team Coordinator, Judy Johnson and Earth Team Volunteer Liaison, Bonnie Allely. “The dedicated Earth Team volunteers who have committed their time and talents to conserving and protecting our natural resources play a vital role in achieving NRCS’s mission of helping people help the land,” said Ann Mills, Agriculture’s Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. “Volunteers at our offices increase the agency’s effectiveness as it works with partners and customers.”

Other awards presented at the ceremony included: Volunteer Award, Oregon; Chief’s Field Award, Arkansas; NRCS Employee Award, Missouri; Volunteer Coordinator Award, Nebraska; and Chief’s Cup, Kansas and also Special Recognition Award, California. Prior to the awards ceremony, all awardees were given time to visit and drink coffee with Chief White in his office. Volunteers also had the opportunity to tour the USDA’s headquarters.

The Fast Food Farm is a two-acre interactive and educational farm located in Gramercy, Louisiana. Denise Hymel is the Executive Director and owner of the Fast Food Farm, who is also the volunteers’ group leader. The farm provides a beautiful setting where visitors become connected to the soil, plants, animals and the source of their foods. The concept of the Fast Food Farm is simple. Children learn that fast food comes from a farm: for instance, French fries are grown from potatoes and pigs are raised to make hot dogs. Earth Team volunteers bond by working together, sharing their skills, and donating the farm’s harvest to needy families and local charities.

The Fast Food Farm is also registered as a People’s Garden-a USDA initiative. To learn more about the Fast Food Farm or to visit the farm contact Gayle Roussel by telephone at: 225-473-7638, Ext. 3 or by email

Chief Dave White presents award to Gayle Roussel
USDA NRCS Chief Dave White presents Earth Team Volunteer Gayle Roussel the National 2009 Earth Team Group Volunteer Award honoring the Fast Food Farm of Gramercy, La. Assisting are (L to R) former NRCS National Earth Team Coordinator Judy Johnson, NRCS National Volunteer Coordinator Michele Eginoire, Roussel, White, and USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills.