Earth Team Volunteers
AACT Students Receive National Earth Team Partnership Award at NACD Annual Meeting in Reno
Sam Antipa and Monique Renteria served as our inaugural student partnership participants with the People’s Garden of the Truckee Meadows in front of the NRCS Nevada State Office in Reno. They “dug right in”—figuratively and literally—and made a huge impact on the garden and the community. NRCS Nevada submitted an award nomination for the NRCS National Earth Team annual awards for their work, and AACT High School, agriculture teacher Michelle Burrows, and Sam and Monique were acknowledged by receiving the National Earth Team Partnership Award at the National Association of Conservation Districts’ annual meeting on Feb. 2, 2016 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
The Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology, or AACT, is a Washoe County School District public career and technical education high school that offers a variety of academies that students must competitively apply to attend, including the Natural Resources and Animal Science Academy. Each academy requires students to participate in community service each year, including a service learning project as juniors. As seniors, they must complete a senior capstone project that benefits the community, increases their skills and leadership abilities, includes opportunities for other students to complete community service hours and culminates in a presentation at year end—and this is where the People’s Garden of the Truckee Meadows comes in.
In an effort to include more of the community in the People’s Garden, while providing opportunities for AACT students to fulfill their requirements, NRCS Nevada entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with AACT, and the students sign up as Earth Team Volunteers.
Last year, during the garden’s inaugural year, partnerships were established with a local farmer’s market. NRCS staff would glean not only produce from the People’s Garden, but also the farmer’s market, to contribute toward the Feds Feed Families campaign, donating all produce to St. Vincent’s Dining Room. Additionally, NRCS formed a partnership with One World Children’s Academy, the preschool down the street, in an effort to help educate future generations about where their food comes from, how to grow produce and why it’s important.
Sam took on the role of the Planning and Planting Coordinator, responsible for planning out what will be planted when, maintaining the garden, and bringing in other student volunteers. Monique Renteria is the Outreach Coordinator, and her role involves gleaning the produce, coordinating with the farmer’s markets to continuing gleaning from them for Feds Feed Families, determining where the produce will be donated and dropping it off, as well as educational outreach with One World Children’s Academy and others.
Since the signing of the MOU in mid-March, 2015, the girls have organized volunteers, stained the garden boxes, planted seeds and starter plants, and hosted the One World Children’s Academy pre-kindergarten class twice—the first trip was to plant bush beans in the garden, and the second trip had the class come back and see the “fruits of their labor,” with the kids picking their beans and then doing a scavenger hunt around the garden to see what else was growing.
The overall contributions of Sam and Monique were tremendous. They helped elevate the Feds Feed Families program, expand upon relationships NRCS had within the community and educated youngsters in the neighborhood to know where their food comes from. Additionally, they grew a garden that produced an abundance of food and gleaned huge quantities from the local farmer’s market.
By the numbers:
Pounds of produce gleaned July-Sept. from the People’s Garden and farmer’s market for Feds Feed Families: 1,045 lbs
Pounds of produce gleaned from the People’s Garden total: 115 lbs
Largest amount of produce gleaned on one day at the farmer’s market: 401 lbs
Earth Team Volunteer hours in 6 months by Samantha and Monique combined: 70 hours
Earth Day 2012 Celebrated Across Nevada
Liz Warner, NRCS Nevada
April 24, 2012
Several events held in Nevada during April helped to celebrate Earth Day 2012.
The Smith Valley Conservation District sponsored an educational event at the Smith Valley school on April 12. Students were guided through several hands-on activities, such as planting seeds, soil types, and wildlife habitat. NRCS soil scientist Matt Cole and his fiancé, Joyce Kammersell, an Earth Team volunteer (right), treated the students to samples of mud to eat -- to their delight.
Matt said, "We used crushed-up Cocoa Rice Krispies to represent the smaller clay particles in soil and non-crushed Cocoa Rice Krispies to represent the larger sand particles in soil. We then poured milk on each to represent rain water infiltrating the soil. The kids could then see how much faster the “rain water” soaked through the sandy (uncrushed) versus the clayey (crushed) soil. This helped illustrate the implications that soil particle size has on plant and water movement in soil. The crushed up Rice Krispies looked like actual soil, and since we had actual soil samples to show, we had to tell them that it was not actually soil and that they could eat it."
On April 18, the Lahontan Conservation District sponsored an educational event for elementary through high school students (top). Organized by Linda Conlin, executive director of Nevada River Wranglers, and Jessi Eckert with the LCD, the event was conducted on the banks of the Carson River on the Norm and Sue Frey Ranch near Fallon. FFA students from the Churchill County High School and other volunteers taught the younger students advanced topics such as the hydrologic cycle, different types of irrigation, wood duck box construction, and how a watershed functions.
Almost 150 high school students from Yerington participated in a farmland restoration day, organized by Michelle Langsdorf and sponsored by the Mason Valley Conservation District, on April 19. Students learned about noxious weeds, nonpoint source pollution, wildlife habitat, and soils (left). They learned first-hand about the importance of water in soil during a revegetation exercise. The students were tasked with planting shrubs along the irrigation canal, but the ground was so hard, a power auger was finally brought in to dig the holes (right).
Quizzes, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises made all three of these educational events stimulating and fun.
Washoe County Parks and Recreation conducted a volunteer effort on April 21. Over 50 volunteers, including NRCS staff and partners, participated in replanting areas of Bartley Ranch Park that were burned during a wildfire in October 2011 (left).
Other events were held around the state, including a tree planting in Lovelock, sponsored by the Big Meadow Conservation District.
Earth Day was officially observed on April 22. Earth Day was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to create awareness for the Earth's environment and to encourage conservation efforts. In 1990, Earth Day was taken international, and today, more than 500 million people in 175 countries observe Earth Day. NRCS was proud to be a part of these activities to help the world accomplish a Billion Acts of Green!
The Earth Needs You - Join Our Team!
The Earth Team is the volunteer workforce of the Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS and we are making a difference in every county in the nation.
NRCS partners with conservation groups and others to ensure private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges like climate change. Working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers, the NRCS identifies natural resource concerns, such as soil erosion and water quality issues, and develops unique conservation plans for restoring and protecting resources.
Earth Team volunteers are an integral part of the conservation partnership and each member takes pride in the fact that they maintain and improve our natural resources and environment on private lands.
Who can volunteer?
Anyone 14 years of age or older and interested in conserving our precious natural resources can be an Earth Team volunteer. You can volunteer part-time or full-time and work outdoors or in a local NRCS office. You can volunteer as an individual or form or join a group. We have opportunities in every state.
Earth Team volunteers work side-by-side with conservation professionals. The soil conservationists, technicians, scientists, wildlife biologists, engineers, accounting and administrative staff are all committed to helping people protect and conserve the earth's natural resources.
When you sign up as an Earth Team Volunteer, you are on your way to becoming a caretaker of natural resources in your community. When you volunteer you may assist with improving wildlife habitat, providing conservation education to adults and students, community outreach and many more interesting opportunities.
Whatever your talents or interests might be, there is a volunteer opportunity for you with the Earth Team. Working together can make a difference!
Please complete the Earth Team Volunteer Interest and Placement summary form- In order to view and fill this form out, you will need Adobe Reader.
The completed form can be emailed to Jonnie.Eyler@nv.usda.gov or submit hard copy to:
Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator
NRCS - State Office
1365 Corporate Blvd.
Reno, Nevada 89502
Office: (775) 857-8500 ext. 100
HELPING PEOPLE HELP THE LAND