2014 National Earth Team Award Winners
Ray County, Missouri
Brittanie Schuette volunteered more than 150 hours over the course of four months in Ray County, Mo., while working full time over her college summer break. Known for its heavy technical workload, Schuette assisted the field office staff with engineering stake out, design and check out. She worked on seasonal high tunnels, terraces, spring developments, grade stabilization structures, irrigation re-nozzleling and diversions. Volunteering with NRCS opened her heart to conservation and her eyes to careers with the Agency.
Batavia Field Office, New York
Molly Stetz has contributed 906 hours to mission critical workload in the Batavia Field Office! Stetz created the Tonawanda Creek Watershed map, monitored over 275 acres of wetland easement sites and attended Soil Health trainings. Her biggest challenge was finding time to do all of these things. As a full time graduate student at the State University of New York at Brockport while working a part-time job and volunteering, her motto is, “If you want something done, then ask a busy person!”
Central Area Office Ephrata, Washington
Shaun Oliver has contributed over 328 hours of work for the NRCS Central Office located in Ephrata, Wash. Oliver helped the State Irrigation Engineer and Area Engineer evaluate severe flooding and fire damage in Wenatchee, Wash. Oliver has assisted with stock water systems, wetland restoration ponds, emergency dikes, channel designs, data input and survey work, which has allowed the staff to work on other projects.
Greensboro Soil Survey Office, North Carolina
Jason Hinshaw is the Individual Team Award Winner for the Southeast Region. Through a work-study program with Grimsley High School’s Autistic Program in Greensboro, N.C., Hinshaw has been an asset to the Soil Survey Office. Jason has symbolized over 4,000 polygons for surveys in Caswell and Alamance Counties. Hinshaw also assisted with populating the NASIS database by completing over 400 pedon descriptions from the original published soil survey manuscripts. This project helped the staff meet their completion requirements for the Soil Data Join Recorrelation National Initiative.
Miller County Back to Nature Volunteer group
Texarkana Service Center, Arkansas
The Back to Nature Program in Miller County started sixteen years ago with 12-15 inner city at-risk kids. Today, it has grown into an annual educational event with over 150 at-risk kids attending with several volunteers and partners providing education on soils, forestry, wild animals, farm animals, a fish aquarium, water safety and farm animal products. Forty-five Miller County Earth Team volunteers collaborated with more than 40 groups who donated time, goods, equipment and food to give youths the opportunity to see conservation and nature first-hand. From hay rides around the farm to boat rides around the lake, kids enjoy this annual event held on a local producing farm with cattle, horses and pecan trees. Thanks to this program, kids learn that food and agriculture products don’t just come from the store, but are grown on farms.
Garden of Hope Lamar NRCS/ Powers Conservation District
Thanks to volunteers from the Lamar Field Office and Powers Conservation District, junior and high school students have hope. The volunteers collaborated with the Partners of Hope, an after school center, to work with kids on planting a community garden. Students learned how to plant seeds, water their plants and produce vegetables. Some vegetables were used in a cooking class at the Hope Center, and kids were able to take their vegetables home to proudly share their results with their parents. Thanks to Lamar County NRCS/Powers Conservation District for working with the community to help kids stay off the street and learn about how their food grows.
12-TOL Pedon Group
NRCS State Office, Connecticut
The Pedon entry team has entered over 160 typical pedons from historical Soil Survey Manuscripts that were not yet entered in the National Soils Information System (NASIS), a critical soils database. Because the volunteers worked mainly from home, very few inputs were required by staff saving hours of staff time, quality control and training. There are between 400 and 28,000 12-TOL typical pedons to be entered – meaning a full time employee would likely spend years entering this data. However, with the assistance from the pedon-entering volunteers, the task is being achieved simultaneously as 12-TOL staff work through SDJR projects. This project was the first in the 12-TOL Soil Survey Region dedicated to entering Soil Survey data remotely. It includes students from the University of Conn., Central Conn. State University and Eastern Conn. State University.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) Earth Team Volunteers
Duluth Service Center, Minnesota
The BWCAW is a million acre wilderness area in northeastern Minn. managed by the U.S. Forest Service. A partnership was made with NRCS to collect soils data for 595,000 acres. Seven volunteers participated in five wilderness expeditions, totaling 510 hours of volunteer time. Trips ranged from 5-10 days with average work days of 10 hours. Volunteers assisted by navigating, paddling canoes, bushwhacking to sample points, carrying soils sampling tools, digging soil pits to 150 cm and recording soils data. Crew members collected over 200 sample points thanks to the help of these volunteers.