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Georgia's Earth Team Volunteer Program

At the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), we are very proud of our Earth Team Volunteers’ commitment to conservation. The Earth Team is the volunteer workforce of NRCS and we are making a difference in every county in the nation. The primary purpose of the Earth Team volunteer program is to expand NRCS services by using volunteer time, talent, and energy to help accomplish the NRCS mission. Nationally, in fiscal year 2019, more than 42,288 volunteers across the country donated 324,784 hours of service to NRCS. Last year, 728 individuals chose to donate their time and talents to Georgia NRCS and customers contributing 4,894 hours because they believe in what we are doing to help the environment.

Individuals from all walks of life volunteer to help NRCS and districts carryout their conservation mission. Volunteers help to protect and conserve the Earth's natural resources. By volunteering you will help ensure that generations to come will enjoy Earth's natural bounty. You will learn new skills and meet and work with new people.

Georgia's 2021 Earth Team Volunteer Spotlights

Paula Davenport & Charlie Grace2Paula Davenport has been in the role of Education Technician for 14 years with the Department of Defense assisting many with their life goals. “The motivation to learn about agriculture through my genuine love of helping others, is what ignited a fire within me and inspired me to become an NRCS Earth Team Volunteer,” explains Paula. “One day, while visiting the USDA NRCS office, Mr. Charlie Grace, South Region Coordinator, explained the Earth Team Volunteer program, process, eligibility requirements and graciously provided me with several educational opportunities.  The learning opportunities were quite interesting. I learned quite a bit about the USDA NRCS EQIP and CSP Programs presented by Mr. Charlie Grace, as well as other farm programs through outreach partners. I would like to thank the USDA NRCS for allowing me the opportunity to gain experience through the Earth Team Volunteer Program and working with Mr. Charlie Grace."



Georgia's 2020 Earth Team Volunteer Spotlights

Reagan Lewsadder

Reagan LewsadderReagan Lewsadder is a senior at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia and learned about the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) by word of mouth while working at another job.  The State Resource Conservationist, Tina Jerome, struck up a conversation with Reagan and got her intrigued by what NRCS does.  Reagan followed up and ended up joining the EarthTeam Volunteer ranks and is now working with our Easement Specialist, Sharon Swagger, who happens to be a UGA Warnell Alum.  Reagan, a native of Florida, is excited to learn about land protection and endangered species and has assisted the Easement Team and the State Biologist.  When Reagan graduates, she plans to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist.  Reagan has been through a lot in her year as a volunteer, enduring shutdowns, parking tickets and now the Corona virus.  We can’t wait to get Reagan back into the office to work on Endangered Species fact sheets and Easement data projects.  

UGA Engineering Students

UGA School of Engineering Senior Design Team

Mary Burnam, Rebekah Williamson, and Gabrielle Usher are a team of Senior Design Students from the University of Georgia College of Engineering.  Sponsored by the NRCS State Office Engineering staff, the students are studying potential watershed dam rehabilitation options for one of the watersheds originally designed and constructed through the original Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program.  As Earth Team Volunteers, the students have provided valuable service to NRCS by conducting preliminary engineering of the watershed structure, such as researching and developing rehabilitation alternatives and determining sediment storage abilities to increase the life of the watershed structure.



Georgia's 2017 Earth Team Volunteer Spotlights

Ricky Merritt

Ricky Merritt serves on the Towaliga Soil and Water Conservation District board and volunteers in the McDonough Field Office in his spare time. Ricky performs many functions, including helping with practice installation inspections, field day preparation and execution, and general office support. So far, Ricky has volunteered 160 hours for the Field Office – the most of any individual volunteer this fiscal year. Shaun Ford, District Conservationist in McDonough, said Ricky, “always has a positive attitude and goes the extra mile on whatever tasks you assign him.” Georgia salutes all Earth Team Volunteers this week and appreciates the work they do to “help people help the land”.


Georgia's 2016 Earth Team Volunteer Spotlights

Mary Beth Smith, Earth Team Volunteer, staffing the NRCS booth at Georgia's CoastFest.

Marybeth Smith | After turning 14 Marybeth Smith signed up to be an Earth Team Volunteer and work alongside her father Dane Smith, NRCS soil conservation technician in Blackshear. Her first job was working the NRCS  booth at Coastfest in southeast Georgia providing information and distributing media products to the participants. Marybeth is also a straight-A student who works on the family’s commercial peach orchard running their solar-powered irrigation system. Learn more.

Aaron Bengochea

Aaron Bengochea | Aaron Bengochea is an avid outdoorsman that likes to fish, kayak, hike, backpack and he like to mountain bike as well. He is a volunteer with the State Engineering team surveying dams and digitizing watershed work plans. Bengochea was born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but grew up in Atlanta. He is currently an Environmental Engineering Technology student and plans to graduate over the summer. He has had experience with drafting, land surveying, Geographic Information Systems processing, and erosion/pollution control for construction. When he graduates he hopes to stay in this same line of work or work with an engineering firm developing erosion, sedimentation, and pollution control plans. “Outside of work and school I’m a bit of an outdoors nut. Pretty much anything to do with the outdoors and mountains will pique my interest”, said Bengochea.

Sarah Spradlin in her FFA jacket

Sarah Spradlin | Sarah has been an Earth Team volunteer since late 2015 in the Public Affairs Office making buttons, assembling Soil Health Packets and helping out wherever she is needed. She attends the University of Georgia as an agriculture communication and international affairs double major. She hopes to be an international agriculture educator/communicator in the future. As she puts it, "Pretty much helping people help the land abroad through communication and education." She lives in Comer where she attended Madison County High School. During high school, she was actively involved in the National FFA Organization, "and that was what set me on an agricultural career path," she added. She likes playing piano, reading books and she also works for a small, online magazine in her spare time.

Georgia's 2015 Earth Team Volunteer Spotlights

Marietta Walker volutneers in the Americus field office.

Marietta Walker | Marietta is a native of Sumter County, Georgia and lives in the town of Leslie. She grew up on a farm and has first-hand knowledge of the all the work that goes into agriculture. In her work as an Earth Team volunteer in the Americus field office, Marietta greets clientele, answers the phone, and assists with contract folders and filing. She says that “NRCS has lots of paperwork, but I love volunteering, love the job, and really like working with people.” Learn more.

Devon Bullock loves to ride horses when she isn't volunteering.  

Devon Bullock | Devon is from Atlanta, GA. She is currently a dual major in Environmental Chemistry and Biological Sciences at the University of Georgia. At the NRCS office in Athens, Devon is working on soil profile models of soil series found across the state of Georgia to be used at educational events aimed at teaching community members the importance of soil health. In her spare time, Devon enjoys horseback riding! Learn more.

Georgia's 2014 Earth Team Volunteer Spotlights

Allegra Stransky is an Earth Team Volunteer located in Coastal Georgia

Allegra Stransky | Allegra has moved several times with her military husband but she has managed to make each new place feel like home by volunteering. Their latest army move was to Ft. Stewart, Georgia where she is an Earth Team volunteer with the Richmond Hill NRCS office. Allegra says that she is enjoying learning about coastal Georgia and experiencing life in the low country. Learn more.


Melissa Mooneyham volunteers in Northwest Georgia.

Melissa Mooneyham  |  Melissa was instrumental in documenting the successes of EWP projects in Dade, Walker and Catoosa Counties. There was a lot of data gathered in the damage survey reports for each potential and actual EWP site. Melissa took information from damage survey reports and information from the implementation of the practices at each site and developed a great summary of what was accomplished. Learn more.

















Who Can Volunteer?

Anyone 14 years of age or older and interested in conserving our precious natural resources can join the Earth Team. You can work part-time or full-time, evenings or weekends, outdoors or in an local NRCS office. You can volunteer as an individual or as a group!

For additional information or an application for Georgia's Earth Team Volunteer program, contact Georgia's Volunteer Coordinator.