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My Experience Volunteering with NRCS

My Experience Volunteering with NRCS

By Lexi Hovan

 

Soil Scientist Geraldine Vega-Pizzaro (left) in the field with Earth Team Volunteer Lexi Hovan.I had a great experience being an Earth Team Volunteer with the NRCS this semester. I feel as though I learned a lot, and all the staff at the Tolland office were very helpful in answering my questions.

 

Much of my experience consisted of completing virtual webinars, which I felt were very informative and well done. I will definitely refer back to my notes on them in the future.

 

I also spent a few days doing field work and lab work. I learned about many different aspects of conservation and NRCS work throughout my internship. My favorite days were definitely the field workdays. I learned how the different soil horizons are separated and labeled, and got experience using the Munsell color chart. I also gained experience filling out specific forms documenting the different soil horizons. I was also lucky enough to get some experience in the lab, where Geraldine Vega-Pizzaro (wearing the hat in the photo) taught me how to do pH tests, as well as soil texturing. I learned a lot throughout my experience about what it takes to become an NRCS employee, specifically within the soils department.

 

Debbie Surabian and Geraldine were extremely helpful in making me aware of the necessary coursework required for the soil conservationist position, and I feel as though I have a much clearer idea of what I need to do in order to continue along this career path.

 

In the future, I would absolutely love to come back and intern for the NRCS again, especially after the pandemic is over. Though I have to say, the staff made sure I was never short on tasks – all of which were intellectually gripping, and none of which felt like busywork.

 

The staff did very well at being able to adapt this internship to the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic, and I feel as though I learned a ton despite being mostly virtual. I would love to come back and get more experience in the office when possible. I can definitely see myself having a career in soil conservation in the future, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to intern this semester!