Twice a week, Susan Anderson volunteers a morning or afternoon at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Big Rapids, Mich. She calls it “giving back.” As a member of NRCS’ Earth Team, the agency’s volunteer workforce, Anderson assists clients, files and helps staff inventory and analyze the resource concerns of area farmers and landowners.
Anderson started volunteering with NRCS seven years ago, shortly after retiring from the Michigan Department of Education, where she was director of School Support Services, with statewide responsibilities and a budget of $500 million a year. She administered Michigan’s non-academic education programs, including child nutrition, food distribution, drivers’ education and pupil transportation.
Anderson says she enjoyed her work in education, but she is enjoying her retirement, too. “This is a great opportunity for me to give back to the community and work to improve the lives of others,” she says.
Jennifer Taylor, Mecosta County district conservationist, says that Anderson is helping her county NRCS office by doing important office tasks and giving Taylor’s staff the “gift of time.”
“Thanks to Sue, we can do a more thorough job of conservation planning to help producers address resource concerns and install practices that can improve both their bottom line and the environment,” she says. “Sue’s efforts allow us to better serve our customers and help people help the land.”
Anderson’s environmental impact extends beyond Mecosta County. Her work is speeding the delivery of NRCS services in other central Michigan counties—that’s because she has scanned thousands of aerial slides into digital images that are then incorporated into ArcGIS mapping software.
Anderson is also very involved in field office conservation activities. She assists with HEL (highly erodible land) determinations, helps producers identify native plants that will best work on their land and speeds office work by organizing files.
“I love the outdoors and nature and I like the customers and staff. I believe in what NRCS is doing and I enjoy the variety of activities,” Anderson says. “And I really like being able to help others and the environment as an Earth Team volunteer.”
Find out how to become an Earth Team volunteer in your community.
Follow NRCS on Twitter.
Check out other conservation-related stories on the USDA blog.
President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation deeming this week National Volunteer Week, encouraging every American to observe the week by volunteering in service projects across the country and pledging to make service part of their daily lives. To get started on a project near you, visit www.Serve.gov.