Skip Navigation

News Release

Illuminating Earth Team Volunteers During National Volunteer Week

Barbara Bowen
(804) 287-1679

NVW Graphic, Shining a Light on our USDA VolunteersRichmond, Va., April 18, 2022 – While the pandemic has proven challenging in a lot of ways, it has also taught us that you can’t “mask” the enthusiasm of a good volunteer. While the quantity of individuals and groups supporting conservation was smaller in 2021, the quality of the work performed remained strong.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is stepping up once again to recognize “the few and the proud” during National Volunteer Week. This year’s theme, “Shining a Light on our USDA Volunteers,” highlights the vital (and often unseen) role of the Earth Team in helping sustain and improve Virginia soil health and water quality.

Though much of our work was still conducted virtually in 2021, 148 Virginia Earth Team members donated more than 3,900 hours of service on the farm, in the office and in the community at large. These services can include technical assistance, office support and generating awareness about the rewards of conservation through community projects.

This week, we’ll spotlight the following outstanding Earth Team members and state award winners for their contributions to their communities and natural resource conservation:

  • Hannah Clifford,Hannah Clifford, who began volunteering three days per week at the Fredericksburg Service Center more than a year ago while preparing for a career as a conservation professional. The recent college graduate has now topped 1,000 volunteer hours and is still donating her services to NRCS while working part-time.
  • The Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District Water Quality Program, which employed 124 volunteer monitors who donated 294.5 hours to support four distinct community initiatives. Coordinator Veronica Tangiri kept these activities running throughout the pandemic to highlight the need for natural resource protection in a climate-change environment.

“Volunteers have always been instrumental to our conservation work and those who are working with us now are more committed than ever,” said Virginia State Conservationist Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez. “We hope to rebuild the program to pre-pandemic levels of more than1,800 as soon as it’s safe and practical to do so. Their support will become even more critical in the years ahead as we seek to address the unique needs of urban farmers and communities with limited access to fresh, healthy food.”

Created in 1985, the Earth Team Program offers many opportunities for individuals aged 14 and older to use their skills and experience to support conservation. Visit our website at to learn more about the Virginia Earth Team Program. Contact NRCS State Volunteer Coordinator Barbara Bowen or your local NRCS office to get more information on service opportunities in your area.