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Volunteer Showcase

Earth Team Volunteer Assists at the Bloomsburg Field Office

Julie Hart worked as an Earth team volunteer for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the Bloomsburg Field Office, where she donated 464 hours Present in the picture from left to right: Angie Bowman, Nancy DiFiore, Denise Coleman, and Julie Hart.with NRCS and the Columbia Conservation District (CD) during the summer of 2016.

Julie was a student at Bloomsburg University who had an interest in environmental policies. Her volunteer experience gave her a broad exposure to the work that NRCS and CD’s do on a daily basis. She assisted NRCS field office staff with conservation planning visits, practice installations, practice survey and design, and she worked independently to assist with the CD’s soil heath grant project. Julie also worked with the CD Technician and the District Conservationist to pull soil samples on over 20 farms that had participated in the CD’s multi-species cover crop incentive program. She called each participant, scheduled visits and performed the soil samples. She then worked diligently in the office to document where the samples were taken, register them online at the lab and prepare the samples for mailing.

She did all of her daily work with little supervision. Julie was always eager to learn as much as possible and actively engaged in any actives she took part in. Julie was a pleasure to work with and she did an excellent job with assisting NRCS and the CD to complete work critical to the producers in the grant program. Check out the photo of Julie receiving a certificate from Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania’s State Conservationist.

Present in the picture from left to right: Angie Bowman, Nancy DiFiore, Denise Coleman, and Julie Hart.  

Thank You Julie!


Earth Team Volunteer Assist in the State Office

Mariela Ortiz - Earth Team VolunteerMariela Ortiz became a volunteer for the USDA-NRCS State Office in August 2016 and is very excited with the opportunity to support the conservation movement while at the same time expanding her professional skills.

Mariela was born and grew up in the municipality of Naranjito, a rural town located in the central region of Puerto Rico. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Office Systems from the University of Puerto Rico. Immediately after graduation, Mariela started working as an Administrative Assistant for the Bacardí Corporation in the Procurement and the Special Projects Departments. Her contribution became particularly instrumental during the construction of the new, multi-million dollar, rum blending facilities completed in the distillery between the years 2012-2015. 

Mariela has worked on a variety of projects at the State Office and has performed a wide range of duties. She did not require a lot of monitoring when showing her new tasks, as she is a very quick learner.

In addition to performing a wide variety of clerical duties, Mariela has been a great resource for the PA Hispanic Committee. She collaborated with the Committee in developing activities to celebrate the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month, including the purchase and distribution of souvenirs, editing and printing greeting letters for the field offices, and coordinating the mailing process. She also participated as co-host with the PA NRCS Hispanic Outreach Technician by greeting participants and distributing informative and educational materials in the 2016 Mushroom Producers Meeting held at Chester County, PA.

She has translated PA NRCS fact sheets from English to Spanish and assisted with translation of the new PA NRCS Spanish site. Additionally, she conducted an inventory and created a track sheet of the PA NRCS public affairs documents available in Spanish to assist the Hispanic Special Emphasis Program Manager to improve the outreach efforts for minorities in Pennsylvania.

She helped update the standards and narratives for section IV of eFOTG, as well as the Certified Conservation Planner Continuing Education Credits database and applied the Excel Spreadsheet Compare program to identify and evaluate the differences between two files of PA NRCS deadlines.

Mariela updated different sections of the PA NRCS SharePoint, including the new table of contents, personnel directory, and the PA NRCS state events calendar, and assisted the Financial Resources Specialist by identifying, classifying and filling inactive financial contracts to be transferred to a record retention room.

She is a great addition to the State Office!

Artist Lends Her Talents to Conservation

With natural gas exploration occurring throughout much of northern Pennsylvania, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with farmers and landowners to protect and restore their soil, water and other natural resources on lands impacted by the natural gas projects. As part of this outreach effort, NRCS is creating a series of educational brochures and fact sheets to assist people in the decision-making process. One brochure being developed focuses on improving food and cover for wildlife in wooded areas when new underground pipelines are installed.

Christina showing the water color paintingsBesides providing recommendations, the brochure will contain pictures showing examples of the pipeline areas with and without beneficial conservation measures for wildlife. To help provide readers with realistic pictures, North Carolina Artist A. Christina Schaffer has volunteered her time and talents to create water color paintings for use in the brochure.

Christina lives in the Clayton, North Carolina area and is a Middle School Art Teacher in the Johnston County School District. She is the former Educator for North Carolina (NC) Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC.

Christina painted four water color scenes depicting the before and after conditions of when conservation practices benefiting wildlife are installed.

An outgoing and energetic person, Christina said, “Volunteering my time and painting the pictures was fun and enjoyable. I feel great that I can use my artistic skills to help protect our nation’s natural resources. ”

John Metrick with NRCS said, “Christina’s paintings take the brochure to another level. We gave her some general ideas and she created these works of art. We are thrilled to have a professional artist like Christina help us with this project. ”

Christina’s mother, Amanda Hasemeier, also works for NRCS in Harrisburg, PA. Amanda understood the concept the brochure was trying to convey to readers and knew her daughter’s artistic talents were a perfect fit. She asked Christina to become an NRCS Earth Team Volunteer and help the federal agency with this project.

The Earth Team is a volunteer workforce of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Earth Team volunteers can work on projects in the field such as planting trees, assisting engineers with surveying, or assisting biologists with water quality and wildlife project. They can also work in the office assisting the NRCS staff with clerical, administrative, and computer needs. Earth Team Volunteers range in age from 14 to retirees.

Thanks to Christina, farmers and landowners will now be able to much better visualize what their lands will look like after they implement the recommended conservation practices.

Earth Team Volunteer Assists at the Gettysburg Field Office

Joshua assisting engineersJosh Shank has volunteered with the Gettysburg Field Office for the past 2 years. He is a student at Bermudian Springs High School, so he helps out at the office mainly during the summer months and when he has a day or 2 off during the school year. Josh assists the field office with helping to survey practices and has done some calculations and plotting of surveying notes. 

In his spare time, Josh enjoys being a junior firefighter with Lake Meade Fire and Rescue, being active in the youth group at Morning Hour Chapel, and running track and cross country.Joshua in a field of harvested cropsJoshua at a desk compiling data


Impressive Interns

Current students at Shippensburg University, Troy Alleman and Cameron Weiser have spent their summer diligently working as volunteer interns. Troy is an intern for the Franklin County Conservation District and Chambersburg Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Cameron is a volunteer for Carlisle NRCS. Troy, a retired Navy veteran, is graduating with a master’s degree in the Spring of 2020. Along with his work this summer, Troy has spent many hours as an Earth Team volunteer over the last year and a half. Cameron, an undergraduate, spent his summer alongside Troy during his first internship with NRCS. Troy and Cameron are both majoring in Geo Environmental Studies. After graduation, Troy would like to work for NRCS, and Cameron is interested in land use planning with community engagement.

Cameron Weiser and Troy AllmanTroy and Cameron have been a crucial part of our Franklin-Cumberland County NRCS Southeast-1 Field Team, pushing their education and knowledge about our practices into the fields and minds of Cumberland and Franklin County producers. Together, they have conducted field certification and for CTA reporting for approximately 6,000 acres. This helped the field team in completing approximately 80% of its reporting goal for the year! Troy and Cameron also assisted NRCS in collecting data on conservation planning visits, attended engineering visits with NRCS engineers to assist farmers to come up with solutions to solve resource concerns.