COLUMBUS, OH, April 21, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring Ohio’s Earth Team volunteers and celebrating their many contributions to natural resource protection during National Volunteer week, April 18-24.
Earth Team is a program that allows NRCS to stretch available resources by partnering volunteers with employees to provide a wide range of services to private landowners and the public. These activities can include conservation technical assistance, office support, teaching and generating awareness about conservation through community projects.
“Whether Earth Team volunteers donate a year, a month or a lifetime to help producers improve their natural resources, the impacts of volunteer efforts are felt far and wide,” said Acting State Conservationist John Wilson. “Last year, 1,703 Ohioans donated 18,262 hours of service because they believe in our critical conservation work.”
NRCS appreciates the important work these volunteers do. Their efforts help NRCS bring more conservation services to farmers and ranchers throughout the state. Ohio’s Earth Team provided about $496,740 of benefit to our customers and taxpayers in 2020. Here are just a few examples of the outstanding work being done throughout the state to help improve lands and wildlife habitat and contribute to cleaner water and air for everyone:
•Charles Behnke is a longtime volunteer at the Elyria Field Office in Lorain County and an advocate of pollinators and home gardening. During the past 12 months, Charles devoted 268 volunteer hours managing a demonstration plot on the Elyria Field Office site displaying native landscaping practices to interested landowners. NRCS utilized the site to showcase best practices that promote native species and help Conservation Reserve Program participants plan and implement similar practices on their own lands.
•Thanks to a great volunteer base, the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) staff of six promoted a new pollinator habitat. After three years of planning and implementation with the help of a dedicated volunteer force donating 207 hours, retired Medina SWCD Linda Schneider’s envision of a pollinator habitat space for training and educational events is now a reality and a “site” to behold. The outdoor public meeting area, with the added benefit of accommodating social distancing protocols is located at the Medina County SWCD office.
•Huron County Soil, Water and Conservation District along with nine other partners, sought to encourage and inspire future generations to learn about agriculture especially those who have never worked in farming. Huron SWCD along with local volunteers, built a structure that enabled SWCD and NRCS to improve and enhance their presence at the 23rd annual county Fall Fun Fest. Bringing in 44 volunteers and 220 hours of direct outreach, the team was able to use interactive displays and run individual events to meet new producers and landowners and promote conservation. The festival has steadily grown and become a key outreach event for agricultural education.
The Earth Team volunteer program helps its participants expand their skills and knowledge through community projects. The program also offers participants community service hours, earned academic credit and an unpaid internship in federal service. Visit Ohio’s Earth Team website to sign-up for volunteer opportunities in your community.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.