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News Release

Celebrating Virginia NRCS Conservation Volunteers on Earth Day

Contact:
Barbara Bowen


  National Volunteer Week 2020

Richmond, April 22, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 19-25, by thanking and honoring its statewide network of Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation.

Earth Team is a program that allows NRCS to stretch available resources by partnering volunteers with employees to provide a wide range of services to private landowners and the public. These services can include conservation technical assistance, office support, and teaching and generating awareness about conservation through community projects.

“The Earth Team has been growing volunteers for 35 years now, and we’re all reaping the benefits,” said State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “Whether they donate a year, a month or a lifetime to conservation, this cadre is improving the environment for today and tomorrow. This past fiscal year, more than 1,800 Virginians donated about 16,000 hours working alongside NRCS staff to provide resources to farmers and landowners – a service valued at more than $441,000 in our state.”*

Here are just a few examples of the outstanding work being done throughout the state to help improve land and wildlife habitat and contribute to cleaner water and air for everyone:

  • The Virginia Dare Soil & Water Conservation District is tops in the nation when it comes to recruiting and organizing volunteers to support youth programs, public service and conservation innovation. A large cadre of volunteers donated more than 1,200 hours last year for their annual Farm Days, Reading in the Classroom and Tire Days events as well as a growers’ club helping develop customized soil health building strategies for local grain farmers. (2019 National Association of Conservation Districts/NRCS Award Winner).
     
  • Rocky Mount Soil Conservationist Emily Baynard began her NRCS career about three years ago but is no novice when it comes to building teams to get more conservation on the ground. Her outreach and recruiting efforts on behalf of the Earth Team have already added 30 new volunteers to our ranks and yielded more than 100 potential leads for local follow up. Emily also goes above and beyond to volunteer with local organizations that educate young people. (2019 State Employee Award Winner)

Created in 1985, the Earth Team offers many opportunities to individuals 14 and older who are interested in volunteering to improve the nation’s natural resources. Learn more about Virginia’s program by visiting our website or contacting Barbara Bowen by email at barbara.bowen@usda.gov. Your local NRCS office can provide more information on needs in your area.

*Note: The Value of Volunteer Time to the Agency in Virginia is $27.50/hour as established by the Independent Sector and utilized by the Federal Interagency Team for Volunteerism.