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News Release

NRCS Announces State Winners of the 2013 Earth Team Awards

November 5, 2013
Jeannine May
Sate Public Affairs Specialist
601-965-5205
 

NRCS Announces State Winners of the 2013 Earth Team Awards

Jackson, Miss., Nov. 5, 2013 - Government alone cannot conserve and maintain America's natural resources; this is why the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has enlisted an army of volunteers to help with conservation.

These volunteers, called "Earth Team", help spread the good news of conservation in Mississippi and across the U. S.

Earth Team volunteers in Mississippi donated 8855 hours of service in 2013, and the following volunteers are being honored for their service.  the state had 513 volunteers, and the value of their work totals $227,923.40.

"We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Earth Team volunteers, "Earth Team State Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Anderson said.  "Volunteers help improve the landscape across Mississippi and assist our agency (NRCS) in promoting the conservation of our precious natural resources."

Winners of the 2013 Earth Team Awards:

Earth Team Individual - Dr. Christine Coker

Dr. Christine Coker, MSU Associate Research and Extension Professor, has been working with schools and non-profit organizations across the MS gulf coast establishing community gardens, and partners with Harrison County soil and Water Conservation District (SWDC), the provider of grants for these gardens.  She tours the sites and offers expert advice on how best to realize the dream of providing a garden for the community.  Several schools and non-profits involved, along with the Armed Forces Retirement Home.  To date, there are a dozen sites that have a garden, container garden, green house, even a green rood.  The partnership with NRCS has been great for "The Peoples Gardens."

Earth Team Group - Harrison County SWCD & NRCS

Harrison County has 27 Earth Team Volunteers who provided over 2,250 hours of valuable service to the landowners and students of Harrison County.  A few of the bigger projects are Earth Day, which we celebrate at the Naval Seabee Base, Keesler Air Force Base, Armed Forces Retirement Home, as well as the local schools. 

Arbor Day is a huge undertaking as the District provides free tree seedlings, which are distributed to landowners and schools for Mississippi's Arbor Day.

The District's Conservation Education Field Days at the Harrison County Farm had nearly 800 students attend for a hands-on learning experience about our natural resources.  With our NRCS  partner and many Earth Team Volunteers, these yearly field days are a success.

Earth Team Chief's Field Award - Harrison County SWCD & NRCS

Earth Team Volunteers are kept informed of the many ongoing and upcoming projects and field days in Harrison County so that they may participate in projects that interest them.  Their service to Harrison County is tremendous and with their time and talent, the field office is able to carry-out successful programs for the landowners and schools.  Some of our biggest projects included:  Arbor Day, Earth Day, conservation Education Field Day, and People's Gardens.  NRCS Area Conservationist, Wesley Kerr recognizes active Earth Team Volunteers each year who donate over 100 hours.  The year, Harrison County ETV's donated 2,250 valuable hours of service by 'helping people help the land.'

Earth Team Partnership Award - Some of the challenges Jones County Earth Team Volunteers faced are challenges like working with a large group of children on field day, and organizing multiple events.  With the assistance and influence of the Earth Team Volunteers, their goal is to increase funding so additional programs can be added to the district's plan of operations.

Earth Volunteer Coordinator Award - Nancy Melancon, Warren County FO 

Nancy is a District Employee serving as the Delta Area Volunteer Coordinator.  This coordinator encourages counties to utilize all volunteers to accomplish the goals of each office.  Each individual office is contacted quarterly to remind them to report all volunteer hours.  If the work load of an office is too large, the coordinator will report the hours for the office.  Nancy tries to stay in touch with each office and recommend volunteers that should be recognized.  The National Volunteer Week literature is sent to each office and encouraged to recognize their volunteers.  She is available to attend any volunteer recognition and supplies items to give to volunteers.

Earth Team Volunteer NRCS Employee Award - Wesley Kerr, Area Conservationist

As an Area Conservationist (Management) Wesley Kerr is dedicated to the Earth Team Volunteer program for South Mississippi. His area donated 5391 of the 8558 volunteer hours in Mississippi.  He created a South Area Earth Team Committee to brainstorm on worthwhile projects that Earth Team Volunteers Could take part in.  In Area 3, a newsletter is published and sent to all Earth Team Volunteer Opportunities list is also sent to each Earth Team Volunteer at the local level on a quarterly basis.  Mr. Kerr recognized Earth Team Volunteers, who have worked 100+ hours every year.

These awards recipients will be submitted as National nominees and will also be honored at the Mississippi Association Conservation District Conference in January 2014.

"I am proud of the hard work of our Earth Team volunteers, especially the NRCS employees who work diligently with these volunteers, "State Conservationist, Kurt Readus said, "I want to thank our area volunteer coordinators, Ondine Rudolph, Nancy Melancon, Julie Kent and Rhonda Goolsby, and the state's volunteer coordinator, Laura Anderson.  We look forward to additional successes in 2014."

To learn more on NRCS' Earth Team visit: www.ms.nrcs.usda.gov/volunteers.htm