Champaign, IL — June 22, 2020 –Staff from Central Illinois who make up USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS’s) Christian – Macoupin – Montgomery County District Group will be recognized for accomplishments achieved when they captured 121 hours of hard work from talented Earth Team volunteer, Ms. Maria Brockamp. Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier will travel to Hillsboro, IL to present the award to the NRCS team and to meet Brockamp at a later date when travel bans and social distancing rules are removed. By working together, these individuals accomplished conservation work that supports the NRCS mission and used conservation programs and practices NRCS administers. “Thanks are due to the volunteer and to our NRCS Team who worked with her to put her time and skills to valuable tasks and local work that truly impacts NRCS customers and the natural resources we protect,” Dozier said.
District Conservationist for the group, Aaron Engstrom, is proud his team received the agency’s traveling award for Fiscal Year 2019. The award will spend time in each county’s Field Offices as a way to thank and recognize all staff who helped NRCS successful use this community volunteer.
“There’s no doubt we value our employees, but we want to show them extra appreciation for using the volunteer program to get even more quality work on the land. It’s hard to put a price on what 121 hours of hard volunteer work means or what it means to the individual, the local office, or the actual soil and water resources impacted. All I can say is that it’s great to have our state leader notice the effort and shows real appreciation for their work,” Engstrom said.
Maria’s efforts occurred last year as part of her Morrisonville High School Senior Project. Maria’s familiarity with agriculture and her excellent communication skills made her help and contributions to both NRCS and the Soil and Water Conservation District even more valuable. She began attending the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana last fall to pursue a major in Ag and Consumer Economics with a minor in Policy and Law. Her goal is to eventually work in Washington D.C. in ag policy. What she learned in those 121 hours might impact future ag policy or programs.
While the Hillsboro Field Office primarily worked with Brockamp, many other staff and technical specialists added to her experience and provided specialized information on high tunnel crop growing structures, engineering practices, rotational grazing techniques, cultural resource protection issues, conservation compliance requirements, and more. NRCS uses the Earth Team volunteer program in Illinois---and in all 50 states--to use the time, skills, and passion of local people to do work that protects and enhances soil, water, and natural resources all citizens and communities share.
“Don’t ever forget that Earth Team volunteers can help conservation professionals get things accomplished but we’re also involving people and interacting in ways that may expose them to new concepts. That raises awareness and appreciation for what a difference farming can make for the planet and for local communities. Finding volunteers and working with them can truly impact local resources, local people, and influence future career choices for generations to come,” Dozier added.