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Earth Team Provides Work Experience for College Students

This is the text of a nomination of Paige McMahon for an Earth Team award submitted by MaryBeth Sorrentino, the District Conservationist for the NRCS Vineland office during Paige's "tenure."

Paige McMahon volunteered mostly with conservation implementation and some planning. These are some of her activities as an Earth Team volunteer:

  • Assisted Conservation Technician with waterway surveys, plotting, layout for construction, and as-builts. 
  • Inspected agronomic practices (cover crop, windbreak, conservation cover etc) for payment certification: used the gps to calculate acreage completed, inspected crops, collected invoices for seed verification, photographed practices, and documented findings in the conservation 6 notes.
  • Attended many technical training sessions hosted by NRCS. This included the cover crop training at the PMC and conservation planning training. Has learned basics of toolkit planning and was able to enter a plan that was written by a TSP into toolkit. This enabled NRCS to report a large number of practices that benefit soil and water quality. 
  • Prepared numerous agronomic job sheets for plans completed in FY 13 including the plan she entered in toolkit.  
  • Inspected conservation crop rotation on over 500 acres and completed the check out  page of the job sheet. This enabled us to meet our soil quality goals for CTA.
  • Contacted program participants to schedule inspections and to follow up. 
  • Assisted with I&E’s with DC and Soil Con for training.  Kept notes and took photos for file.
  • Completed Conservation Planning training in Ag Learn.
  • Assisted with Forestry Stewardship Inspection.  Met with forester and used the GPS to calculate forest stand improvement acreage. Work was accurate and helpful to field office – discovered the forest stand improvement was not completely done on participants property. We were able to notify forester and landowner to resolve the issue.
  • This past FY our soil conservation technician retired and the position was not replaced.  Paige was able to continue volunteering to help accomplish our goals.  

Challenges: Paige is still working on her college degree in Agriculture/Horticulture at Cumberland Community College. She tries to volunteer as much as possible but also needs to work to pay her tuition. Her volunteer hours have decreased since she needs to juggle work and school. Her goals are to work with NRCS one day.

Paige completed a volunteer internship in the fall of 2012. This reinforced a student internship program between our local service center and Cumberland community college. Other students have called inquiring about volunteering with NRCS. They heard it is an excellent experience!