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News Release

NRCS Hails Earth Team Volunteer Services Valued at Over $7.1 Million

Colette Kessler, State Public Affairs Officer
colette.kessler@sd.usda.gov | (605) 220-1765

Ryan Willert, State Volunteer Coordinator
ryan.willert@sd.usda.gov | (605) 669-2404, ext 3

NRCS Hails Earth Team Volunteer Services Valued at Over $7.1 Million

NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE, Huron, SD, April 11, 2018–This week, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service hails Earth Team volunteer efforts, throughout the nation, during National Volunteer Week. Our theme, “Volunteers Improve Today for Tomorrow,” uses the week of April 15-21, 2018 to show gratitude to Earth Team volunteers for their superb service to conservation.

The Earth Team is the federal agency’s volunteer workforce. This past fiscal year, more than 34,309 people donated 325,601 hours of service. Volunteers worked alongside NRCS to provide resources to farmers and landowners to aid them with conservation–a service value of more than $7.1 million.

“Volunteers work closely with our staff, and play an important role in our state’s conservation work,” said Jeff Zimprich State Conservationist, Huron, SD. 

Earth Team is a program that partners volunteers with NRCS employees. It was created in 1985 and offers many opportunities to individuals 14 and older who are interested in volunteering to improve the nation’s natural resources. This year, the Rapid City NRCS Field Office won the National Chief’s Field Award for working with local high schools and vocational tech schools to recruit interested students to help with field work, while getting real life work experience with the NRCS. 

Earth Team volunteers help NRCS conservationists provide private landowners and others with a range of services, from conservation technical assistance to teaching and generating awareness about conservation through community projects. Earth Team volunteers are invaluable as they expand NRCS’ efforts to help protect and conserve the nation’s natural resources. Volunteers dedicate their time and talents to various conservation activities, from helping farmers prevent soil erosion, protecting water resources and watersheds against flood damage, to improving the condition of grazing land, and enhancing wildlife habitat.

Last year in South Dakota (SD), 171 volunteers donated 4,441 service hours toward natural resources conservation. “Our Volunteers are valuable in every aspect of conservation. We are especially proud of our 115 volunteer ‘Voices for Soil Health’ who are speaking out for the soil resource by hosting tours, speaking at workshops, and sharing their story of steps they have taken toward healthier resources,” says Zimprich. “The Soil Health Voices have established a network across SD for anyone interested in expanding their learning about soils, especially in the areas of cover crops, biology, and transitioning from conventional to soil health management practices for both cropland and grassland.”

NRCS’ mission to “Help the People Help the Land” is strengthened by the passion Earth Team volunteers bring to the important conservation work they do every day.

Learn more about the Earth Team Volunteer Program online at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/earthteam or by calling (toll-free) 888-526-3227. For more information on NRCS visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.

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