Rachel Kennington is South Carolina's 2013 Earth Team Volunteer of the Year
By: Sabrenna Bryant, SC State Earth Team Coordinator
Giving Back through Volunteering
Though she may be small in stature, Rachel Kennington has a big passion for volunteering, and bursts with pride as she talks about the work she does with the NRCS field office in Lancaster, SC. As South Carolina’s 2013 Earth Team Volunteer of the Year, Rachel put in nearly 300 volunteer hours in fiscal year 2013, more than any other field office volunteer in the state.
Rachel is no a stranger to NRCS or Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), and has a history of working with both. In the late 90’s as a college student, she worked as a receptionist for the Lancaster SWCD, as an intern with NRCS, and later as an Earth Team volunteer. After graduation, Rachel used her degrees in Secretarial Science and Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of South Carolina to work for a local business. Rachel then found herself unemployed for over a year, and decided it was time to get back in the work world. “For me, it was not about the money, but about helping others and having a purpose,” stated Rachel. She developed a great working relationship with Lancaster NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Ann Christie. “Ann’s a hard worker and great to work with, and I am thankful the opportunity she’s given me.”
Making a Difference
Situated on a small, quiet hill off a main highway, the Lancaster field office is managed one employee, Ann. This one man show means that the workload can sometimes be overwhelming, and that’s why Rachel’s help makes such a difference for Ann, and really helps her with time management. “As the only NRCS employee in this office, Rachel’s assistance is invaluable, saving me hours of time by performing preliminary work for contract management, conducting research, and helping with event and presentation preparation,” she explains.
Rachel volunteers an average of 20-24 hours a week, depending on the workload and schedule, and uses her administrative skills wherever they are needed. She works with different NRCS programs and computer programs, orders office supplies, answer phones and makes copies, files, manages mass mailings and performs any other clerical work that needs to get done. Her assistance also extends to the Lancaster SWCD, and helps SWCD Manager Amanda Roberts with education and outreach projects, such as preparing for classroom presentations, special events or mailing newsletters. “Having Rachel volunteer with us in the Lancaster office is a tremendous benefit to NRCS and the Conservation District alike,” explains Amanda. “I feel her help has truly made a difference.”
When asked if she has a passion for conservation and the NRCS mission, Rachel admitted that though she doesn’t have much technical knowledge, she does have a passion for protecting our natural resources and the environment. “I feel that I am doing my part to help, even in the office,” stated Rachel. “I come to work here with a purpose, and every day that I volunteer, I feel I am fulfilling it.”
Congratulations Rachel Kennington, South Carolina's 2013 Earth Team Volunteer of the Year!!!