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NRCS Employees Donate Their Free Time to Clean Up a Stream

Working as an Earth Team volunteer, Cartographic Technician Jonathan Bowlin pulls trash from a stream near his office in Greensboro, N.C.

Working as an Earth Team volunteer, Cartographic Technician Jonathan Bowlin pulls trash from a stream near his office in Greensboro, N.C.

Employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) work every day to help private landowners improve environmental quality on their properties. So when staff at the NRCS East Remote Sensing Lab (ERSL) in Greensboro, N.C. noticed a stream near their building had become a dumping ground, they took it upon themselves to address the problem.

“You don’t have to go far to make a difference,” says Cartographic Technician Nathan West. “I saw the debris in the stream near the office and decided I wanted to clean it up. Others agreed and we set up a stream cleaning schedule.”

The stream is located on a neighboring property. NRCS staff got permission to go on the land and made plans to clean it up in their free time. Twenty signed up with the Earth Team (the volunteer workforce of NRCS) and spent three days pulling debris and waste from the water. West says the volunteers removed 400-500 gallons of trash from the stream, including four tires and three shopping carts.

Vera Thomas, NRCS centers and labs Earth Team volunteer coordinator, recruited Earth Team volunteers for the project and secured needed supplies. She was amazed with the final results of the stream cleaning effort.

“Earth Team volunteers turned that stream from shabby to shiny in just a short time,” she says. They set a very good example of environmental stewardship and I’m proud of them for their hard work.”

Now that the stream has been cleaned up, West has another Earth Team volunteer project in mind. He hopes staff and other Earth Team members will plant a People’s Garden this spring to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to needy folks in the area in the summer and fall of 2012.

The People’s Garden Initiative is a USDA effort to challenge its employees to establish gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People’s Gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose: to help the community they’re within and the environment.

Read about the People’s Garden Initiative.

Learn more about Earth Team.

Follow NRCS on Twitter.

Check out other conservation stories on the USDA blog.

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