Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

USMC Vet and Earth Team Volunteer Timothy Bennish Visits with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan recently visited Viroqua, Wisc. to promote USDA’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. While she was there, she took the time to meet with Timothy Bennish, a volunteer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Earth Team volunteer program.

NRCS works with farmers and ranchers to implement voluntary conservation practices that will not only protect the nation’s natural resources, but also maintain or increase the productivity of the land.

Bennish is presently volunteering in the NRCS Viroqua Field Office, where he is gaining a true appreciation of the work that NRCS does every day by assisting with the survey and installation of conservation practices. Bennish, who has a few months free before he starts school in the fall, was encouraged to volunteer by his father, Dan Chroninger, who has worked for NRCS for 35 years.

Bennish came to NRCS after serving in the military as a Navy Corpsman with the 2nd Marine Division. He enlisted in the service when he was 18, and after scoring high on a battery of vocational tests, he chose the career of Hospital Corpsman, caring for injured soldiers in his unit.

Bennish spent five years in the military. He was in Iraq for 11 months and in 2011 was deployed to Afghanistan, where he served for eight months. While in Afghanistan, he received a serious head injury in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion and was transported to Germany as part of the Wounded Warrior Program.

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Volunteer Timothy Bennish and Soil Conservation Technician Dan Chroninger discussed NRCS’ Earth Team Program during her travel to Wisconsin in April 2012.

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Volunteer Timothy Bennish and Soil Conservation Technician Dan Chroninger discussed NRCS’ Earth Team Program during her travel to Wisconsin in April 2012.

Now Bennish is intent on pursuing his passion of being a trauma room doctor. He is planning on attending University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this spring to finish his graduate courses, and to eventually attend medical school.

Bennish has a true sense of caring for the community and that is what inspired him to volunteer for the Earth Team.

“I am very proud of his service to the military and this extends to his efforts serving on the Earth Team,” says Chroninger, Bennish’s father. “We are glad that he is part of the conservation team here in the Viroqua office.”

“Meeting with Deputy Secretary Merrigan was an honor,” Bennish says. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share my experiences while in the military and with the NRCS Earth Team volunteer program.”

In fiscal year 2011, more than 22,000 Earth Team volunteers donated 435,653 hours of service to NRCS, estimated to be worth $9.3 million. Since Earth Team was formed in 1985, over half a million volunteers have helped NRCS with its conservation mission.

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.

Leave a Reply