From Earth Team Volunteer to NRCS Employee
Vermont NRCS Celebrates National Volunteer Week
April 6th through 13th is National Volunteer Week at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and in Vermont there is a lot to celebrate. Volunteers allow the NRCS to stretch available resources and help put conservation practices on the ground. The Earth Team program is often an introduction of the agency to some of the nation’s best and brightest citizens who want to help improve the environment. Many NRCS employees start out as volunteers with the Earth Team. This benefits the agency by gaining new employees who already have some training under their belt.
Recent volunteer, Timothy McCoy, was hired as a Soil Conservation Technician in February of 2014. McCoy decided to join the Earth Team shortly after he and his wife moved to Vermont the previous summer. He had recently finished graduate school at SUNY-ESF (State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry) where he studied the diet of the American marten (Martes americana) and small mammal population cycles in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. “While in grad school I volunteered for several organizations and always enjoyed the experience. I decided to volunteer with the Earth Team as I felt it would be a great way to familiarize myself with the state and get to meet other people involved in local conservation programs, as well as learn some new skills” said McCoy.
As a student of environmental science, McCoy was vaguely familiar with the NRCS and thought volunteering would allow him to better understand the agency mission, goals and practices. When asked if any experiences with the Earth Team had particular significance in his decision to work for NRCS, he described a site visit in Addison County to a field located at the base of a small mountain and lake. The field was adjacent to a wetland that was well buffered from the field, protecting the wetland from agricultural runoff. “The buffer was there as a result of NRCS. This struck me as a vital protection that would not be in place if not for the NRCS and convinced me that working for the agency would be very rewarding and worthwhile. When a job opportunity became available I jumped at the chance to be part of this agency.” McCoy said he recommends the Earth Team program to anyone interested in conservation and agriculture.
Anyone 14 years of age or older who is interested in conserving precious resources can be an Earth Team volunteer. Opportunities exist to work outdoors or in local NRCS offices. For more information on the NRCS Earth Team program, please visit the NRCS website http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/volunteers/, or contact the Vermont Earth Team Coordinator, 802-951-6796 ext. 235.