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Virginia Volunteer Spotlight

June 2015

Chase Lawhorn
Chase Lawhorn

In just three short months last summer, Chase Lawhorn not only learned about conservation planning and practices but also became a valuable asset to the Bonsack Service Center. The Virginia Tech student participated in client appointments, assisting with resource inventories, taking photos, and locating resource concerns on aerial photographs. He also assisted with surveys for practice design, running the total station survey instrument and designing the practices.

Chase's volunteer activities included outreach projects that benefitted partner agencies such as the Farm Service Agency, Mountain Castles Soil and Water conservation District and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He helped plan and conduct a  successful farm tour highlighting a mitigation project and represented NRCS at a public meeting on wildlife habitat, compiling a list of potential Farm Bill program applicants. When he returned to school, Chase had completed 402 hours of volunteer service while averaging over 32 hours of work per week and built a foundation for conservation that will have long term benefits for the office, his community, and himself.

April 2015

Cynthia Haney
Cynthia Haney

Cynthia Haney is leaving a living legacy on the land ... one tree at a time. The Certified Virginia Naturalist has put her skills to work with the Amherst Tree Buffer Program, a Robert E. Lee Soil and Water Conservation District initiative to install riparian buffers along local streams and waterways.

Reliable and knowledgeable, Cynthia has helped Amherst County landowners and other volunteers plant hundreds of trees, shrubs, and live-stakes to help protect local waterways since 2008. When not planting trees, she also participates in the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay River Trend Monitoring Program and was recognized as the Area III Outstanding Earth Team Volunteer in FY 2014.

September 2014

Levie Edmund
Levie H. Edmond

Levie H. Edmond didn't have to go far to become more involved in his community. He just stopped by the Fredericksburg Service Center, which happened to be conveniently located near his part-time job at Goodwill Industries. The field office offers the perfect setting for Edmond to meet new people and learn new skills before catching his ride home from work.

Since joining the Earth Team on July 1, 2010, Levie has become a familiar face at the NRCS office as he helps with shredding and other office functions that tend to keep field staff in the office instead of out on the farm.

When he is not helping out NRCS, Levie also donates his time to advocate for persons with intellectual disabilities like himself. He has served as a board member for the Arc of Fredericksburg (an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities) and helps coordinate social events for the intellectually disabled in his community.

June 2014

Kevin Davis
Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis was a valuable asset to the NRCS and Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District staff last summer, contributing over 400 hours of volunteer service to help both agencies achieve their conservation goals in Page and Rockingham counties. Despite juggling part-time jobs to earn gas money and support his return to Ferrum College, he worked tirelessly on a variety of projects to deliver services to local producers and conservation partners in a more efficient manner.

Kevin helped strengthen rapport with local farmers through his timely communications of Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Testing (PSNT) Program results and his assistance with planning, layout, and check out of completed conservation practices. The PSNT Program helps farmers save money on fertilizer by evaluating the need and application rate for Nitrogen in corn fields. It also leads to improved water quality through reduced application rates. Kevin prepared and analyzed over 100 soil samples in a two-month period.

During his time in the office, Kevin assisted with engineering designs for livestock water systems and concrete cleanout pads and helped with file organization and general office duties to increase the efficiency of the Service Center. He also completed several farm inventories in the Smith Creek Showcase Watershed and staffed the Friends of the Shenandoah River booth at the Page County Fair.

January 2014

Carrie Brausieck, Prince William SWCD

Carrie Brausieck

Carrie Brausieck's drive and willingness to take on new challenges has helped the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District take advantage of many new conservation opportunities this past year. Carrie brought together a diverse group of community, local government, and school volunteers on a grant project to restore a vegetated buffer on a local stream. She also spearheaded an effort to help a local town establish a volunteer water quality monitoring program for bacterial contamination. Carrie worked with the district's Outreach Specialist and the town’s Public Works Director to identify sampling locations, coordinate sampling protocol with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and identify volunteers to assist her with sampling. The data collected will not only benefit the town but also establish a volunteer water quality monitoring model for other localities in the District.

In addition to these large projects, she tirelessly assisted conservation staff in developing over 60 conservation plans and the installing numerous agricultural BMPs. She has helped pull soil samples, survey projects, stake out practices, prepare maps, formulate nutrient management plans, and make cold calls to recruit cooperators. Carrie has also volunteered to help with many District education and outreach events, including Farm Field Days, Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences, booths at local events, watershed cleanups and classroom presentations.'

November 2013

Matt Roberts, Earth Team Volunteer

Matt Roberts

You could say that farming is in Matt Roberts' blood. He grew up on a family farm raising cattle, chickens, and pigs, and has been active in Future Farmers of America (FFA) since his sophomore year in high school. He also co-founded one of only three charter collegiate FFA chapters in the state while at Wytheville Community College.

Matt joined the Earth Team volunteer program in April 2013 and volunteers about 25 hours a week with more than 500 hours of service in the Wytheville Service Center. He has already mastered many of the broad training requirements for field and office duties. His daily routine includes field assignments like assisting with surveying, Highly Erodible Land (HEL) determinations, fence and watering system inspections, and client meetings to discuss and implement conservation plans. Back at the office, he helps with program applications, client file maintenance, and serving customers at the counter.

Matt earned two associate's degrees from Wytheville Community College and will attend VA Tech in the fall of 2014 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Ag Science with minors in Dairy Science and Crop & Soil Environmental Science. He is already well on his way to completing his conservation planning certification with NRCS and intends to pursue a career with NRCS.

August 2013

Leslie Clements, Earth Team Voluntee

Leslie Clement

College student Leslie Clements is getting a real environmental education this summer, volunteering 16-20 hours a week in the Culpeper Service Center. The Orange County native has participated in conservation planning visits, laying out conservation buffers, and helping with the survey and design of conservation practices. She has also assisted with field checks of installed conservation practices and worked on soil maps, environmental evaluations, and administrative tasks for the Service Center.

Clement is a junior majoring in Environmental Biology at Christopher Newport University, so she is especially interested in the environmental benefits of the conservation practices NRCS helps local producers plan and install. She says she most enjoys the conservation planning field visits where she learns about solutions to environmental problems. Asked if she would volunteer again, the answer was an enthusiastic yes.