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Earth Team Skills on Exhibit

The bright yellow demonstration house built by Earth Team volunteers Mike and Jill Viafore is being used at fairs and exhibits to show how to install a home rain barrel and miniature rain garden. Using these practices, homeowners can save water and protect nearby lakes and streams from pollution.

The bright yellow demonstration house built by Earth Team volunteers Mike and Jill Viafore is being used at fairs and exhibits to show how to install a home rain barrel and miniature rain garden. Using these practices, homeowners can save water and protect nearby lakes and streams from pollution.

Mike and Jill Viafore are crafty. This past summer, the couple designed and built a portable demonstration house to educate the public about the benefits of rain barrels and rain gardens at exhibits and fairs.

But the Viafores didn’t put this exhibit together just for fun—they are contributing their crafty skills as Earth Team volunteers. Earth Team is the name given to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service volunteers. Earth Team volunteers work side by side with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) employees on conservation projects to improve their local environment.

The NRCS Pierce Conservation District Stream Team uses the shed-sized structure the Viafores built as a conservation education tool in the Seattle, Wash., area.

With the easily transported house, Stream Team volunteers can now show people ways they can minimize the impact of stormwater on local streams using rain barrels and rain gardens.

Rain barrels take rainwater from roofs and divert it into a barrel. The captured water can then be used to water gardens and landscapes during dryer periods.

Rain gardens are attractive landscape features that take stormwater from roofs and other impervious surfaces and filters pollutants out as the water percolates down through the soil into the groundwater to help recharge aquifers.

Stream Team personnel say the Viafore–built house allows them to better demonstrate the importance of using conservation practices to protect local streams, lakes and the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Earth Team volunteers Jill and Mike Viafore stand in front of a portable demonstration house they built in Washington State. The structure is being used to exhibit the benefits of urban conservation practices to residents near Seattle.

Earth Team volunteers Jill and Mike Viafore stand in front of a portable demonstration house they built in Washington State. The structure is being used to exhibit the benefits of urban conservation practices to residents near Seattle.

In 2010, more than 32,000 Earth Team volunteers donated 641,549 hours of service to NRCS estimated to be worth $13.4 million. Since Earth Team was formed in 1985, over half a million volunteers have donated an estimated $327 million worth of time, in 2010 dollars, helping NRCS with its conservation mission.

Learn more about Earth Team.

Follow NRCS on Twitter.

Check out other conservation stories on the USDA blog.

One Response to “Earth Team Skills on Exhibit”

  1. rusty says:

    can we use this idea in our Master Gardeners program?
    Thank you so much..rusty

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