In recent months, the Barton County Conservation District has encouraged the community to consider becoming part of the NRCS Earth Team in Barton County. So, what is this Earth Team anyway?
Earth Team is the volunteer arm of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture. A lot of work goes into putting good conservation practices on the ground, and without our volunteers, the agency would have a hard time fulfilling its mission.
There are many ways that Earth Team Volunteers help NRCS stretch its resources in order to bring more quality conservation practices to our communities and our surrounding countryside.
Some volunteers are producers, who assist technicians directly with marking and laying out conservation practices. Volunteers can also help with organizing conservation events, taking photos, writing articles, speaking to groups and creating artwork. In the office, volunteers can help with putting our newsletter together, posting social media and educating others about natural resource conservation.
In 2023, the Barton County Conservation District will encourage more participation in the local Earth Team. Through participation in the USDA Peoples Garden Initiative, the Victory Garden of Barton County will provide outreach and education opportunities.
Farmer to Farmer meetups hosted by the conservation district will be happening in 2023 as well. Conservation district supervisors will be on hand at these events where timely ag related topics will be discussed and feedback to help direct programming in our area will be gathered. This will be another opportunity where volunteer assistance will be appreciated.
Finally, in 2023, the district is seeking to build a group dedicated to participating in the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). There are currently several individuals in the county that are already in the network, and they are encouraged to become part of the group, but students are encouraged to participate as well.
Earth Team volunteers range in age from 14 years and up. They may volunteer for a one-time event, or regularly throughout the year. The first step in becoming an Earth Team volunteer is reaching out to the area NRCS office and asking to take a volunteer assessment. In Barton County, the conservation district organizes the local Earth Team.
The assessment is a one page form that asks for contact information and interests of the volunteer, the amount of time and availability they have, and a place for applicants under the age of 18 to have their parents provide permission for them to participate in volunteer activities.
Once the volunteer is on board, they are eligible to be covered under the NRCS liability and tort insurance for the time they are participating in designated volunteer activities. As they continue to provide their valuable service, they are eligible to be nominated for volunteer awards presented annually by the NRCS.
Contact Veronica Coons at the Barton County Conservation District Office for more information at email@example.com or 620-792-3346. Feel free to stop by the office, located at 926 S. Patton Rd. in Great Bend to pick up a form and visit in person.