NRCS Soil Conservationist Rob Pearce collecting nahavita corms. Photo by Ken Lair, NRCS.
Native American agriculture techniques once dominated the continent, but after the arrival of Europeans, many of those traditions were nearly lost. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with tribal communities and ethnobotanists to restore some of these techniques and crops.
NRCS Earth Team volunteer Ken Lair is working with the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley in California to test a cultivation technique to stimulate growth of the plant nahavita, or blue dicks.
Traditionally, when native people harvested geophytes through digging, they did more than just retrieve the largest bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes for eating—they also replanted the smaller ones so that they could grow into new plants. Lair is testing this cultivation technique by growing nahavita at the Big Pine Indian Reservation. Read more »
Ken Lair teaches a group of student volunteers about conservation. (Photo courtesy Jackie Lindgren)
At 6’6”, Ken Lair is a gentle giant of conservation. Shaking off injuries and setbacks that would have stopped a lesser man, Lair volunteers his expertise to lead several projects for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Lair, who holds a doctorate in restoration ecology, spent the majority of his federal career with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and NRCS. After retiring, Lair continued to work with NRCS in California as a consultant. Read more »
Earth Team Volunteer Kelsey Bulman assisting the Caledonia, Minn. field office with surveying a pollution abatement project for a waste management system. (NRCS photo/ Gary Larson)
Most college juniors look forward to summer break as a time to relax without any responsibilities.
Not Kelsey Bulman.
In the summer of 2011, she began volunteering with the Earth Team of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. For her efforts, Bulman won Minnesota’s Earth Team Award in 2012 and was honored with a 2013 National Earth Team Volunteer Award. Read more »
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (left) and Ohio Earth Team volunteer Alex Snyder in Zanesville, Oh., in Sept. 2009.
Graduate student Alex Snyder finds inspiration through the lens of his camera. While completing his graduate degree at Ohio University’s Office of Sustainability, Snyder found time to volunteer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its volunteer program, Earth Team. Read more »
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. Read more »
Members of the Hinds County Earth Team group gathered at Van Winkle Elementary School to give an environmental education program.
Trees are important natural resources—this is the lesson that a dedicated group of volunteers shared last week with Mississippi youngsters. Read more »