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Earth Team Volunteer Loves ‘Dream Job’ with NRCS

Captain Mike P. McAdaragh II pictured on one of the construction sites where he volunteers to assist with the Wetland Reserve Program.

Captain Mike P. McAdaragh II pictured on one of the construction sites where he volunteers to assist with the Wetland Reserve Program.

U.S. Army Capt. Mike P. McAdaragh II is looking for a job that blends indoor and outdoor work. This led him to volunteering with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that works with private landowners to improve farms and forestlands across the U.S.

McAdaragh’s volunteer work with NRCS gives him the opportunity to work side-by-side with agency biologists and engineers, providing him with valuable work experience and new skills as he transitions from his 13 years in the military to a new career.

His background in land-use planning and geography and his military experience make McAdaragh an asset to the Wetlands Reserve Program team in Madisonville, Ky. This team is responsible for helping local private landowners restore and enhance wetland areas.

McAdaragh assists in creating wetlands, including planning how they’ll be laid out and what will be planted in them. Historically, many wetlands have been drained for agricultural lands. NRCS is working with landowners to restore wetlands on agricultural lands because of their value in providing habitat for wildlife, improving water quality and lowering flooding risk.

While this is technical work, McAdaragh enjoys learning new skills and the chance to watch conservation practices put on the ground on private lands in the area. He began volunteering in August and logged more than 60 hours in August and September.

Captain Mike P. McAdaragh II assisting with the survey of a shallow water area for wildlife, part of the NRCS Wetland Reserve Program.

Captain Mike P. McAdaragh II assisting with the survey of a shallow water area for wildlife, part of the NRCS Wetland Reserve Program.

Volunteers with NRCS are part of its Earth Team, which last year included 19,000 volunteers who logged 300,517 hours of service. Since Earth Team was formed in 1985, over half a million volunteers have helped NRCS with its conservation mission.

McAdaragh, who served as an infantry officer in Afghanistan, learned about Earth Team through the Army Wounded Warrior Program at Fort Campbell, Ky. Though he was injured in the line of duty, McAdaragh refused to let the injury stand in his way and has the following encouragement for those looking to make their own transitions:

“You have already overcome adversity, so don’t settle for anything less than your expectations,”

Find out how to become an Earth Team volunteer in your community.

Learn more about the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).

Follow NRCS on Twitter.

Check out other conservation-related stories on the USDA blog.

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