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Every Single Tuesday

Jean Hodges steps outside the Bridger Plant Materials Center office buildingEarth Team is the volunteer program for the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Volunteers give their time with one goal in mind: helping protect the natural resources in their communities.

For Jean Hodges, that commitment to her community is one of the reasons she volunteers. Officially becoming an Earth Team volunteer in February 2010, Jean’s dedication to conservation and to the Bridger Plant Materials Center stretches far beyond her time with the Earth Team.

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Every Single Tuesday (SWF; 10 minutes, 30 seconds; 75 MB)


Transcript of "Every Single Tuesday" Video

NARRATOR:
Earth Team is the volunteer program for the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Volunteers give their time with one goal in mind: helping protect the natural resources in their communities. In 2011 alone, 37 Montana volunteers provided over 2,000 hours to 25 offices in the state.

For Jean Hodges, that commitment to her community is one of the reasons she volunteers. Officially becoming an Earth Team volunteer in February 2010, Jean’s dedication to conservation stretches far beyond her time with the Earth Team.

JEAN HODGES:
After retiring in January of 1995, I was hired by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana as a part-time secretary. And then two years ago, it seemed that we were getting, the PMC staff was a little behind with goals they needed to reach so I thought I would volunteer if I could help reach those goals in time.

NARRATOR:
Jean has been a great asset to the Bridger Plant Materials Center. Over the past two years, she has donated over 400 hours. Jean has been associated with the Center since 1966 - longer than anyone else.

HODGES:
I came to the PMC when the position of clerk was opening, and when my youngest child started first grade. I was the very first person employed in that position as a clerk or secretary. When I first started I began taking dictated shorthand letters, memos, meeting minutes, and such, and of course typing them on manual typewriters. The printer that we used in those days was a mimeograph machine.

NARRATOR:
I came to the PMC when the position of clerk was opening, and when my youngest child started first grade. I was the very first person employed in that position as a clerk or secretary. When I first started I began taking dictated shorthand letters, memos, meeting minutes, and such, and of course typing them on manual typewriters. The printer that we used in those days was a mimeograph machine.

HODGES:
The nationwide PEAS program P E A S which stands for plant evaluation assessment system, was begun in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And we started this to document the origin and the collector and the date and other basic information of collections made in Montana and Wyoming in order to provide all that information nationally and for other PMCs to use in documenting their information as well.

NARRATOR:
Started in 1959 by the Montana and Wyoming Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Bridger Plant Materials Center plant selections and research have been important tools in addressing soil and water conservation problems across the two states. Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, Incorporated owns the land, and NRCS operates the Center which serves both states. The Center has selected and released over 30 conservation grasses, forbs, and shrubs for use throughout the northern plains.

Jean remembers some of the earliest plant releases.

HODGES:
Well what comes to mind first, is our first release, which was Lutana, and that was a big private celebration. Both Critana thickspike wheatgrass and Rosana western wheatgrass followed right after that within a year or two.

NARRATOR:
While Jean has been a part of the Bridger Plant Materials Center since nearly the beginning, her history in the Clark’s Fork Valley goes back even further.

HODGES:
We farmed 140 acres in the beginning. When we started farming, we had an old tractor, an old plow, and an old binder. I used to tease my husband about he couldn’t resist binders at farm sales, because we bought several but one would be used as parts for another one a little better, and we even started raking and stacking hay with a team of horses which I certainly was not familiar with in the beginning. And I didn’t always get them stopped at the right time or get them started at the right time, so I’m afraid Earle got covered up with hay many times.

NARRATOR:
Over the years, Jean has welcomed many people to the Plant Materials Center. She’s seen new employees, visiting dignitaries, and participants in tours, training sessions, and workshops hosted by the Center.

HODGES:
We have had over 180 employees here at the PMC since I started. One of the most memorable, of course, was the first Plant Materials Center manager, was Ash Thornburg and he began the PMC here in Bridger.

One summer, a person who became employed, she couldn’t find a place to live. And we had a bunkhouse in our yard that no one was using at the time - the boys had gone away to school - and so I said, well she could pitch a tent in our backyard or we had that bunkhouse and she could live there and that’s what she did, she lived in the bunkhouse in our house.

One of the early ones that I remember very well was the Western Regional Plant Materials Specialist from Portland, Oregon, Doctor Hafenrichter. Everybody in the West called him “Hafy” affectionately because he was a remarkable person. And anytime we had any questions, why, we could call him.

The kids in the summer time, when they would pick up the hay bales, would stack them as high as they could get them and then ride on the top of them, coming in from the field. And we finally had to put a stop to that because that was just too dangerous. But they used to outdo each other to see how high they could get.

We did have a lot of fun.

SUSAN WINSLOW, AGRONOMIST, BRIDGER PMC:
When I came to work at the center, I developed, I started to develop, a tooth ache. And within just a very short time period, I was in excruciating pain. I was living in a small travel trailer over by the greenhouse and I was popping Advil like it was candy and my cheek was swelling up like a chipmunk. And I went to the dentist in Bridger. He referred me to an oral surgeon in Billings, and by the time I could get in there I was in need of emergency surgery, and Jean was kind enough to take time off from work and drive me. It was a very harrowing experience for me and Jean was extremely kind and caring and compassionate, with someone that she’d only known for just a few days.

HODGES:
One other one I should mention is Gu Anlin who came here from Inner Mongolia, from China, and she was here for a year from April 1991 to 1992. And she became a very special friend and still is. And although she’s now retired she’s currently working on an atlas, a second plant atlas, on documenting plants in northeast and northwestern China and also in Tibet.

NARRATOR:
For over 45 years, Jean has given her best to the Plant Materials Center. And she is still just as dedicated to the Bridger Plant Materials Center as she has always been.

JOSEPH SCIANNA, MANAGER, BRIDGER PMC:
What an asset to have someone who’s been here so long to bring continuity to all the program changes, all the managers, and I’ve been really lucky, and I rely on Jean’s opinions over the years.

Jean is always working extra, and coming in on her own. She was actually an informal Earth Team volunteer well before that date, but she’s, I think since 2010, she comes in every single Tuesday and helps out. In our hurry to get things done a lot of times Jean catches little things that we need to do a better job on and makes them professional, so.

ROGER HYBNER, AGRONOMIST, BRIDGER PMC:
But I’ve also noticed how Jean welcomes all the new summer help people and makes them feel at home and that they’re welcome and she’s just a wonderful individual to work with. I’m just very pleased and honored to have worked with her so far.

HODGES:
I think there are still going to remain conservation problems. You need to stay involved in something. You need to be open to new challenges.

NARRATOR:
For more information on the NRCS Earth Team volunteer program in Montana go to www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov.

The United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service