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Earth Team Volunteers in Wisconsin

Travis Mead - West Bend Service Center

Last fall I was roaming around on the NRCS’s website and stumbled upon a webpage about being an Earth Team Volunteer. Two years prior I was applying for jobs on the usajobs.gov website for soil conservationist vacancies. With no real success, I wondered how I could receive some real hands on experience? After seeing the Earth Team webpage and reading about being an Earth Team Volunteer that’s when I decided to contact my area NRCS office. 

From the time I was a little boy and growing up on a farm, I’ve always wanted to protect the woods and fields that my family called our land. The land that harvested crops for the 70 head of cattle we milked twice a day.

Once I became older and started to contemplate what career would suit me, I thought back to the days on the farm and how I could help in the planning process. I decided that Landscape Architecture was the path I wanted to pursue. After going to college and receiving my degree as a Landscape Architect, I realized that I wanted to help protect the land that we raise our families on. 

During a two month period this last summer, I volunteered Fridays working closely with a District Soil Conservationist, Soil Conservationist and a Soil Conservation Technician in the West Bend field office. While I was volunteering I helped put together producer files. In these files we would put soil maps, contracts and other necessary paperwork for approvals for the NRCSs programs such as CRP, WRP, CSP, and EQIP. At times I would ride along for site visits and contract signatures. During one of the site visits we looked at field erosion near a bordering wetland. One of the major concerns was water quality and how we could redirect and capture the sediments from the eroding field. 

My experience volunteering with the NRCS has opened my eyes to what I really want to do with my education and my hands-on experiences. Volunteering allowed me to become familiar with NRCS. The connections and friendships  that have been made will not be forgotten.