Park Rapids NRCS Earth Team Volunteers
In the early summer of 2012, NRCS offices throughout the country received an Earth Team Volunteer Challenge. States were asked to plan 2 Gleaning Events utilizing Earth Team Volunteers for the Feds Feed Families food drive. The purpose of the Earth Team –the volunteer arm of NRCS—is to expand NRCS services by using volunteer time, talent, and energy to help people meet the agency needs.
Glen Kajewski, Assistant State Conservationist, in Thief River Falls encouraged field offices throughout NW Minnesota to think about planning a Gleaning Event. Put simply, gleaning is the removal of unharvested food items from a field that are collected by volunteers and given to a local food shelf.
The Park Rapids Field Office gladly accepted the challenge and moved forward with planning the Gleaning Event. Alicia Laturnus, Soil Conservation Technician, contacted Wayne Warmbold, Human Resources Executive, with the R. D. Offutt Company and affiliates (a potato grower and frozen processing facility in Park Rapids) about picking the left over potatoes from a harvested field. Warmbold said, “You are definitely welcome to pick them. It’s good that they won’t go to waste.”
Dan Pazdernik, District Conservationist, and Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District employees (Mark Sommer, District Manager and Melissa Koebernick, Staff Support) promoted this event by putting an ad in the local paper, distributing event posters and by word of mouth. Their outreach efforts worked. We had an additional 11 volunteers join us in the field.
The Volunteers’ energy was high. They were ready to pick and happy to help with the food drive. The R. D. Offutt farm employees were very helpful because they liked the idea of giving the left over potatoes to the local food shelf. They guided us to an easily accessible field and pointed us to areas in the field with a little more potatoes on the ground.
In just 2.5 hours, a total of 2,000 pounds of potatoes was collected. Food from the Gleaning Event was distributed to the Hubbard County Food Shelf in Park Rapids and the Akeley Community Food Shelf.
We want to send a special thank you to the R. D. Offutt Company and affiliates; NRCS employees from the Park Rapids Field Office (FO), Wadena FO and Thief River Falls Area Office; Hubbard SWCD employees and Earth Team Volunteers for gleaning the potato field for our Feds Feed Families food drive.
Questions regarding the Gleaning Event should be directed to Alicia Laturnus at the Park Rapids Field Office. Laturnus can be reached at 218-732-9723 x3.