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What could you accomplish in 15,700 hours? The 968 Missourians who donated those hours last year while working alongside employees of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped the agency protect and improve the quality of the state’s soil, water, air, plants and animals.
Those people, referred to as Earth Team volunteers within NRCS, worked out of more than 100 NRCS offices throughout Missouri. They joined about 400 NRCS employees and an additional 400 employees of local soil and water conservation districts and the Missouri Department of Conservation in helping people help the land.
“2010 was one of our most successful years ever in terms of the amount of conservation that was planned and applied by private landowners working with our NRCS team and our partners,” says Missouri State Conservationist J.R. Flores. “The monetary value of the volunteers’ contributions is estimated at more than $325,000. But their contributions are worth a lot more than that. The conservation measures that their efforts helped get on the ground are contributions that provide benefits year after year.”
The Earth Team was created in 1985. It offers a variety of opportunities to individuals and groups of individuals over the age of 14 who are interested in making a positive difference for the nation’s natural resources. Earth Team volunteers help NRCS conservationists provide conservation technical assistance, teach, complete office work, generate awareness about conservation through the use of community projects, and much more. NRCS will honor its Earth Team volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 10-16. Nationally, nearly 30,000 people donated about 642,000 hours of service to NRCS last year, worth an estimated $13.4 million.
Flores encourages people interested in volunteering to visit the NRCS office in the USDA Service Center serving their county. Look in the phone book under “U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture,” or visit this website: http://offices.usda.gov. Information about the Earth Team Volunteer Program is also available online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/volunteers or by calling 1-888-526-3227.