At USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), we subscribe to the “Every day is Earth Day” way of thinking. Celebrating Earth Day provides us with the opportunity to underscore the significance of the work being done every day by our agency, through conservation planning and producer assistance, to benefit the soil, water, air, plants and wildlife for productive lands and healthy ecosystems.
This year, on a glorious spring day, NRCS Florida invited our conservation partners, local school children and the public to join us in celebrating Earth Day. Partner organizations, including the Hernando County Friends of Native Plants Society, NRCS Mobile Irrigation Lab, Audubon Society, the Florida Division of Forestry and many others, set up exhibits with various conservation themes at the NRCS Brooksville Plant Materials Center (PMC). Our soils division was also on hand to demonstrate the NRCS Web Soil Survey.
The day began with a welcome from NRCS Florida state conservationist Carlos Suarez. Suarez pointed out that as a result of the success of the first Earth Day in 1970, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act became law, followed three years later by the Endangered Species Act.
“NRCS has been working to protect, conserve and improve the environment for over 75 years,” said Suarez. “America’s farmers and ranchers, collaborating with government and other private groups, have made great strides in helping to improve our Nation’s environment. But there is much more to do and it’s going to be up to you to help with the conservation of our natural resources.”
Next up was a People’s Garden discussion with Dr. Mimi Williams, Florida NRCS plant materials specialist. At last year’s Earth Day event NRCS Florida started a small native wildflower and pollinator garden at the PMC and this year we have added a vegetable plot featuring three different potato growing techniques. Each planting was also multi-cropped with cabbage, onions and peas. The school children had a ball digging up the potatoes that were planted earlier in the season by the PMC staff. All food harvested from the garden was donated to The Way Family Farm in Brooksville.
Demonstrations and discussions such as a Xerces pollinator study, wildflower information and giveaway, bee habitat, NRCS longleaf pine restoration and the Melton family antique farm equipment went on throughout the day. It was a perfect way to remind people that conservation is everyone’s responsibility and “Every day is Earth Day.”
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