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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What does the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) do?

A:  The USDA-NRCS is a federal agency that works with private landowners (farmers, ranchers and foresters) to put conservation practices in place that will benefit the soil, water, air, and wildlife.

Q:  How many locations are currently looking for volunteers?

A:  There are over 2,500 offices nationwide, the majority of which are staffed with field personnel who work directly with landowners.  There are opportunities at the field level for volunteers to work in the office or in the field.  

Q: Can anyone volunteer?

A:  Anyone 14 years of age or older can volunteer for NRCS.  We use individuals and groups of volunteers. 

Q:  Can non U.S. citizens volunteer?

A:  Yes.  International volunteers will be asked to complete not only the OF-301a, Volunteer Service Agreement – Natural & Cultural Resources Application, but also the NRCS-PER-002, Volunteer Interest and Placement Summary form.  Once completed, the NRCS-PER-002 will be forwarded to the International Programs Division in Washington, DC who will approve the potential volunteer for placement.

Q: What type of skills does a volunteer need in order to volunteer?

A:  The USDA-NRCS can use volunteers with office, photography, speaking, education, training, conservation planning and implementation, snow survey, computer, soil conservation, wildlife habitat, clerical, budget and contracting skills…to name a few!

Q: Are volunteers only allowed to do certain jobs?

A:  No.  Our volunteer can perform any job or task that our employees perform.

Q: What benefits do you provide?

A:  USDA-NRCS Volunteers receive Workers Compensation and Tort Coverage.  Additionally, if needed and budgets allow, we are able to reimburse the volunteer for some expenses such as mileage to and from the office.  Reimbursement of expenses must be negotiated on an individual basis.

Q: What training do volunteers receive?

A:  NRCS can provide training to volunteers.  The volunteer will work with their supervisor to learn what training is available.

Q: What days and hours can volunteers work?

A:  With technology, some volunteers can work from home and never come into an office.  Working from home would allow a volunteer to work days, nights, weekends, etc.  However, our offices are generally open Monday – Friday from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Q: If I volunteer will this lead to paid position?

A:  Although we can’t promise a paid position, a number of NRCS employees started out as volunteers.  The experience gained as a volunteer can look good on a resume!

Q: Do all volunteers need to get a background investigation?

A:  No.  However, volunteers requiring access to a government computer will need to undergo a background investigation and volunteers who need access to a USDA-NRCS Office are required to complete security course and test.