Earth Team Award Winners 2013
2013 Individual and Group Volunteer Award Winners
National Earth Team Individual Volunteer Service Award Winners
Amanda Carrell – ARKANSAS
Amanda is a 2012 graduate of the Arkansas State University (ASU). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in plant and soil science and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in agriculture. She learned about NRCS and the Earth Team volunteer program through a course on soil and water conservation through ASU. Amanda completed field visits to finalize wetland delineations, performed field work on Wetlands Reserve Program and inventoried resources, assisted with the processing of over 200 applications for the Mississippi River Basin Initiative, assisted with the survey of a 300 acre irrigation reservoir and she helped install soil pits and worked with students who participated in the 2012 land judging competition. Amanda received a job as a student intern through the NRCS Student Employment Program (STEP) due to her excellent work as an Earth Team volunteer.
Dr. Ken Lair – CALIFORNIA
Dr. Ken Lair has had a distinguished career of public service working for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). After retiring from BOR, Ken came back to NRCS as an Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services (ACES) employee. When that position was eliminated, Ken took it in stride and volunteered his time. Ken was charged with developing new Conservation Field Trials throughout California, a task he tackled with enthusiasm. He wrote proposals and completed research designs for multiple Conservation Field Trails and two were chosen to be funded. One in Inyo County with the Big Pine Paiute Reservation and the other with the Lewis Center for Education Research, Victor Valley College, near Victorville, California. Ken’s technical knowledge is impeccable, and his ability to work with stakeholders to explain complicated issues is without equal.
Paul Rutledge – MICHIGAN
Dr. Paul Rutledge used his expertise to provide an advanced assessment of the proposed wetland restoration of the Trapp Farm Nature Preserve in Benzie County, Michigan. His work saved the government well over $100,000 in construction costs and provided the landowner with information that will be useful in on-going local public outreach and education campaigns. Dr. Rutledge understood the problems the neighbor’s had with flooding basements and the balancing act that NRCS faced. Thanks to Dr. Rutledge, NRCS will maintain good working relationships with the partners on this project.
Kelsey Bulman – MINNESOTA
Kelsey is a college student who donated over 400 hours of service, providing assistance to landowners with conservation planning and technical assistance. She surveyed, designed and drafted many conservation practices such as grassed water ways, contour buffer strips and a grade stabilization structure. She completed 20 re-enrollment evaluations of Conservation Reserve Program water ways and completed numerous conservation compliance field reviews. With a limited background/knowledge of agriculture, Kelsey rapidly acquired skills to complete the work at hand and assisted the field office in completing a greater number of planning and conservation application.
National Earth Team Group Volunteer Service Award Winners
CoCoRaHS Rain Gauge Network – ARKANSAS
With coordination efforts from the group leader Brittany Yancy, this group of volunteers strategically placed rain gauges throughout the county which will allow NRCS to make accurate determinations in vegetative plantings and affect a host of other technical decisions provided to landowners. At any time, NRCS field employees can call a volunteer that is in close proximity to a project or farm of interest and get within hundredth-of-an-inch rainfall totals for the past month, week or 24 hours. This project goes beyond rain gauges and provides an avenue for outreach and education within the community.
Saipan, Northern Marianas College ENRO Club – GUAM
A group of college students provided assistance at the 2012 Environmental Expo by preparing and providing hands on activities to other students and the general public. The group was also instrumental in commemorating the USDA’s 150th Anniversary by helping with maintaining weed growth around the established native tree plantings at the Saipan LaoLao Re-vegetation Project. The project aimed at reducing sedimentation into the LaoLao Bay as well as re-establishing the area as a forest habitat with native plants. They also helped keep the weeds from smothering the trees and competing for nutrients and water which is important to keep the plantings healthy.
Southern Illinois University Geography Interns – ILLINOIS
Andrew Johnson, Jon Larson, not pictured, and Cari Cannon, students from the Southern Illinois University volunteered to conduct research on resource-graded handheld GPS units based on selection criteria given to them by agency employees. Utilizing precise testing methodology, each of the GPS units were tested in a variety of field conditions to determine which best met the Illinois NRCS needs. Due to the exceptional work of the group, a state-wide acquisition of 105 GPS units were purchased for field use. By conducting such a thorough review and testing of proposed GPS units, Illinois was able to obtain the best product for the money.
Texas Road Public Watershed Association Group – MARYLAND
Texas Road Public Watershed Association group has been a major part of NRCS workload in the Salisbury NRCS Field office. Michael Sigrist, retired NRCS District Conservationist and David Wilson, retired RC&D Coordinator signed up as Earth Team volunteers and assisted with creating a grant package, attended community information meetings, worked on designs, assisted landowners on property line disputes, helped produce letters that went out to landowners and advised on issues as they developed and coordinated solutions. Due to the good communication skills and the Earth Team volunteers’ expertise, it has boosted public interest in NRCS and built partnerships.