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Earth Team Volunteers Dive “All In”!

earth team volunteer

An Earth Team Volunteer learns how to identify erosion issues on the land and how to develop solutions that address resource concerns on the farm.

Earth Team Volunteers Dive “All In”!

The best Earth Team volunteers are the ones who arrive with interest and enthusiasm and who jump into the task full force. That precisely describes Julian Zuluaga. Julian heard about NRCS from a friend who interned with NRCS one summer and told him all about the agency and what we do. As he was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering at Florida’s International University, Julian quickly realized NRCS was a perfect match for his skills, his interests, and future career.

His initial plan was to use NRCS’s Earth Team Program to volunteer with several different states, traveling and working a week or two in different locations throughout the summer. He wanted to get some hands-on experience, get a better idea of what NRCS engineering involves, and hopefully, land a great job.

Luckily, Julian called Illinois State Conservation Engineer, Ruth Book. Ruth told Julian about all the different engineering opportunities and experiences he could find right here in Illinois, and he decided to focus his volunteer experience with us.

Julian worked as a stellar volunteer in southern Illinois, donating NRCS a full month of his time working and learning in the Anna, Tamms, Vienna, and Marion Service Centers. Julian helped Area Engineer Dave Webber on a special project surveying ditches filled with sand from the Mississippi River levee beach last spring.

During his one-month engineering adventure in Illinois, Julian learned how to identify erosion issues on the land and how to develop solutions that address resource concerns on the farm. He learned the basics of resource planning, hydrology, surveying, note-taking and design. Julian became skilled in using surveying equipment, including a dumpy level, hand level, laser and survey grade GPS. He learned how to survey WASCOBs and grassed waterways.  He also learned how to use ArcGIS and engineering software to design these practices.

According to Ruth Book, “We enjoyed having Julian spend some time with our technical staff. Julian took a job working for the NRCS in Minnesota, where I’m sure he will do a great job for the agency. He was a courteous and helpful young man and we hope to see him back in Illinois as an employee some day!”


If you would like to find out more, visit the webpage Illinois NRCS Earth Team.