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We could use your help in reducing soil erosion, conserving our water and improving its quality, and developing pride in our country's natural resource heritage. Your commitment to the Earth Team will help ensure that generations to come will enjoy America's bounty.

The Earth Team, the volunteer arm of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, is now recruiting volunteers in more than 3,000 locations across the country. Make a difference in your community by becoming an Earth Team 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 a local NRCS office. You can volunteer as an individual or as a group.

Earth Team Volunteers Making a Difference

Jeff Spencer, Earth Team Volunteer
Jeff Spencer, Delaware County

My 120 hours of Earth Team Volunteer time with the Walton Field Office for USDA- NRCS New York, under the supervision of Paula Bagley, Acting State Conservation Engineer while assisting Larry Mathena, Southeast Area Engineer, Ben VanDusen and Karen Clifford, Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), has been an important step into the professional work world. I wasn’t treated like an intern; I was treated like an employee. That being said I was held to the same level of responsibility as an employee would be. I had to show up on time, dress appropriately, stay on task, and maintain a professional mannerism. As my relationship with the other individuals of the office began to grow, I was being recruited to do all sorts of projects. I began doing regular farm visits, answering Geographical Information System (GIS) questions, attending meetings, putting together GIS reports, and much more. The variety in the workplace astounded me. It was always interesting to go into the office and see what people had planned for me. I became knowledgeable in a variety of areas and learned many new skills!

One of the main skills that I really wanted to focus on learning in my time at the NRCS office was working with ArcMap and Arc Catalog. GIS is becoming essential to every aspect of our lives. Knowledge in GIS is becoming less of a preferred skill and more of a required skill. While working with the NRCS my employment allowed me the opportunity to take a complete introduction course through the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) while I was at the office. The training was a 24-hour course that taught me how to use basic tools, perform analysis such as clip and buffer, organize and import data in different geodatabases, check the source of imported data to determine its location in relation to the other layers and much more!

Katherine Barnhart, Earth Team Volunteer
Katherine Barnhart, Delaware County

My time as an earth team volunteer was a very fun experience. I got to see how the Watershed Agricultural Program works. Though I was a Natural Resources Conservation Service intern, I got to float around the different offices a lot. This was very good to do because I got to see all the different aspects of the program and how they all fit together.

I spent some time in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office helping them; this was fun to do because it pertained to my major in Agricultural Business. I also got to help Kim Holden, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), edit maps from soil sampling which I enjoyed because I was able to follow up on the soil sampling I had done in the beginning of the summer. I got to see more of the process than just sampling.

With NRCS, I went out to construction sites a lot. I enjoyed seeing things be built for the farmers who needed it. It is rewarding when the farmers appreciate what they are getting and don’t take it for granted. It is also rewarding to see farms operate more efficiently and have better water quality. Being an intern I was able to do a lot of things and see what everyone did. That was one of the best parts being able to go with different staff in the building and talk with them about what they do for their job and how they like or don’t like some things that they do. I really liked hearing everyone’s story about how they became involved in the program and why they enjoy working for NRCS, Cornell Cooperative Extension, FSA, or Watershed Ag Council. I think that I can take a lot from this internship and not only apply it to a future career but my everyday life. The personal skills and social skills that I have acquired while being here will help me every day.

Earth Team Volunteer Derek Walling at a construction site of a waste storage facility. Click image for full screen view
Derek Wallings, Chenango County

As an intern, I worked at the Norwich Field Office for USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. Throughout the summer, I worked alongside Lauren Johnson, District Conservationist, on various conservation projects, including those that fell under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and others.

Earth Team Volunteer Derek Wallings carrying a GPS unit at a construction site. Click image for full screen view

I have become well acquainted with the use of ARCGIS and GPS, employing this knowledge to map and document the progress of projects, projections for structures, areas designated for certain conservation programs, and those prone to flooding. My knowledge of local soils and my overall background knowledge of how soils affect their surroundings and the potential for completion of certain projects have increased exponentially. All in all, my time spent this summer as an Intern proved to be a valuable learning experience. This will help me as I push forward with my Water Resources Degree and my future endeavors.

Where Can Earth Team Volunteers Help?

On the Land - with professional conservationists who are working directly with farmers and ranchers.

In schools - with elementary and high schools, college and university students. Through camps and classes, you can introduce young people to the importance of conserving our natural resources.

With organizations - youth groups, professional societies, or civic groups. All types of organizations are joining together to sponsor water quality education campaigns, community gardens, and erosion control projects. Cooperative Earth Team efforts can help solve many natural resource problems in your area.

In offices - NRCS or your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) may want to use your talents for clerical assistance, organizing information in a computer, preparing newsletters, or educating others about natural resources conservation.

What Kinds of Jobs Earth Team Volunteers Do

As an Earth Team volunteer, you will work with professionals on conservation activities in your community. Whatever your talents or interests, there is a volunteer opportunity for you.

  On the Land

   In the Community

   In the Office

  • Soil Mapping
  • Surveying
  • Water Sampling
  • Establishing Wildlife Habitat
  • Native Grass Seeding
  • Resource Inventories
  • Conservation Practice Layout
  • Planting Trees
  • Conservation Planning
  • Photography
  • Conservation Education
  • Writing
  • Special Tours & Fairs
  • Conservation Youth Groups
  • Outdoor Classrooms & Nature Areas
  • Public Speaking
  • Drafting
  • Computer Data Entry
  • Map Interpretations
  • Typing
  • Telephoning
  • Editing
  • Reception
  • Filing

Earth Team Volunteer Information and Materials

Earth Team Volunteers - NRCS Earth Team Web site

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Volunteer Interest and Placement Summary (PDF; 169 KB)
Volunteer Application (PDF; 231 KB)
Orientation for Earth Team Volunteers (PDF; 949 KB)

Angela VanDyke, Earth Team Coordinator
Telephone: 315-477-6504
E-mail: Angela VanDyke