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NRCS extends public service to students

By Quenna Terry, Public Affairs Specialist

Career Day at Region 17 Education Service Center is nothing short of an exciting experience for students in the 20 counties in and around the Lubbock and South Plains region.

Hosted by the Center, it’s a fun-filled day of learning to prepare high school junior and senior students for the future.

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees in Lubbock take time out of their day to volunteer to cook a hot dog lunch and help in some of the morning learning sessions, while sharing information about their agency.

For many NRCS employees, it’s just another day of giving back to the community through public service.

Manuel DeLeon, NRCS wildlife biologist in Lubbock, brought the idea to the NRCS office after his wife, Jennifer, became employed by the Center and began helping organize the event.

“We’ve participated in Career Day for many years,” said Kelly Attebury, NRCS soil scientist in Lubbock.  “Part of what we do on a daily basis is reaching out and providing agricultural education, so this is just another way we can help students.”

Jennifer and Liz Parks, two of the organizers of the event, said Career Day is a special event focused on bringing career opportunities for students who are not college bound.

This year, public school districts in the region sent approximately 250 students to participate in the event.  Jennifer said Region 17 has been hosting Career Day for the past 10 years.

“School districts choose the students who come.  Today, we have 227 students and we’ve had as many as 500 in past years,” she said. 

One of the activities the NRCS volunteers assist in helping the students with is called “Day in the Life”  where Region 17 employees and volunteers demonstrate real life interactions through role playing in six sessions offered to the students.

“We have to make sure we are helping prepare these students after they leave high school.  If they leave here today with some ideas of jobs accessible to them, then we have succeeded,” said Jennifer.  “We are providing them with options to join the workforce.”

Region 17 and other Education Service Centers were created by actions of the Texas Legislature and the Texas State Board of Education in 1967. The centers are non-regulatory and each provide an array of services to support school administration and instruction.

Public school districts within Region 17 are located on the South Plains of West Texas, an area sometimes referred to as the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains). Lubbock is the center of commerce and is the largest city in the area with a population of more than 200,000. The  school districts have diversified agricultural economies based upon agriculture production, manufacturing, distribution of goods, and production of oil and natural gas.

“Some of these students are likely to find employment in the agricultural industry,” said Manuel.  “We work with farmers and ranchers everyday who are interested in conserving natural resources on the land, and you never know, one of these students might own a piece of Texas one day and need our assistance.”

NRCS extends public service to students , Quenna Terry, USDA-NRCS PAS (2017, December)