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NRCS Honors Volunteers During National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week is April 15-21, 2012.

story by Dee Ann Littlefield

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is celebrating National Volunteer week by thanking and honoring its Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation. Earth Team is the agency's volunteer workforce. Nationally in fiscal year 2011, over 22,000 people donated 435,653 hours of service to NRCS worth $9.3 million.

NRCS State Conservationist Salvador Salinas said Earth Team Volunteers are making an environmental impact in Texas. Last year 161 volunteers donated 5,052 hours in Texas.

"That's worth $107,910 of benefit to our customers and the taxpayers," said Salinas. "These are impressive numbers and we are grateful for the help, but we also recognize much more conservation work needs to be done."

Earth Team is a program which partners volunteers with NRCS employees. It was created in 1985 and offers many opportunities to individuals over the age of 14 who are interested in volunteering to improve the nation's natural resources. Earth Team volunteers help NRCS conservationists provide private landowners and others a range of services from conservation technical assistance to teaching and generating awareness about conservation through the use of community projects.

"The NRCS theme for this year puts it best," said Salinas. "We are 'Celebrating Earth Team Volunteers in Action'. Earth Team Volunteers allow us to stretch available resources and help us put additional conservation practices on the ground. Their volunteer efforts help us improve our land and wildlife habitat, clean our water and air, and they help us improve the environment for everyone."

Salinas said he hopes National Volunteer Week will motivate others to volunteer to help NRCS with our conservation mission. "Earth Team volunteers work closely with our staff and they play an important role in our state's conservation work. They take on a variety of conservation assignments and many Earth Team Volunteers tell us they find their volunteer work enjoyable and personally very rewarding."

Learn more about the Earth Team Volunteer Program online at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/volunteers or by calling (toll-free) 888-526-3227. For more information on NRCS visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Since being formed in 1985, over a half-million Earth Team Volunteers have donated $336 million worth of time helping NRCS with its conservation mission.

*Note: The Value of Volunteer Time to the Agency is $21.36/hour as established by the Independent Sector and utilized by the Federal Interagency Team for Volunteerism. The $314 million figure uses 2010 dollars.

NRCS helps producers in planning conservation practices.

NRCS helps producers in planning conservation activities.