Last year, 296 Earth Team volunteers donated nearly $290,000 worth of time to the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Iowa. "That's more than 13,500 hours donated to soil and water conservation," notes Richard Sims, state conservationist for NRCS in Iowa. "These are impressive numbers and we are grateful for the help, but we also recognize much more conservation work needs to be done."
During National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, NRCS is celebrating National Volunteer week by thanking and honoring its Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation. Nationally, in fiscal year 2011, more than 22,000 people donated 436,000 hours of service to NRCS worth $9.3 million.
Since 1985, more than 500,000 Earth Team Volunteers have donated $336 million worth of time helping NRCS with its conservation mission. Anyone at least 14 years old may volunteer for NRCS through Earth Team. Earth Team volunteers help NRCS conservationists provide private landowners and others conservation technical, help build conservation awareness through teaching and put conservation on the ground through community projects. Sims says he hopes National Volunteer Week will motivate others to volunteer to help NRCS with the soil and water conservation mission. Learn more about the Earth Team Volunteer Program online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/volunteers or by calling (toll-free) 888-526-3227. For more information on NRCS visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.
*Note: The Value of Volunteer Time to the Agency is $21.36/hour as established by the Independent Sector and utilized by the Federal Interagency Team for Volunteerism. The $314 million figure uses 2010 dollars.
"America Needs Farmers" program teams up to help ease hunger in Iowa
Speaking of volunteer programs and efforts in Iowa, football fans are invited to help replenish Johnson County Crisis Center and statewide food banks by brining donations of food to April 14 Spring Practice Game for Iowa Hawkeye football team. It's part of the "America Needs Farmers" effort supported by Iowa Farm Bureau.
"Iowa farmers lead the nation in livestock and crop production and they're proud that their hard work and innovation brings more food and more choices for all Americans; that's why it's unacceptable to have a 30 percent increase in the number of families who visit food banks," says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation president Craig Hill.
The Johnson County Crisis Center distributes 60,000 pounds of food a month and they're facing a critical shortage in both food and donations. The Iowa Food Bank Association, a collaboration of the eight food banks which collects, coordinates and distributes food and essential supplies across the state, sees similar shortages.
Farmers team with Iowa Food Bank Association to help ease hunger in Iowa
"That's why IFBF is proud to support the ANF/ Food Bank Drive April 14 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City when fans of the UI football team get their first look at the 2012 Iowa football team. We hope Hawkeye fans and all Iowans will show that they believe in taking care of their neighbors and friends in need," says Hill, a fourth generation crop and livestock farmer from Milo.
Those who work with food banks in this state are grateful for the donations and the chance to spotlight a growing problem of hunger in Iowa. "The current economy has brought higher mortgage rates, medical and fuel costs to more Iowans at a time when they're finding it tough to find a full-time job with benefits. It all adds to the problem of hunger in Iowa," says Jordan Vernoy, director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. Many food banks are seeing a critical shortfall. "But, we want Iowans to know that it's so easy to help our neighbors in need; every one dollar donated can help us gather $15 of food donations," says Vernoy.
To encourage donations, the first 1,000 fans who bring a donation of cash or canned food to the Hawkeyes' open-to-the-public practice can receive ANF items. There is no admission charge to attend the scrimmage and the gates open at 11 a.m.
ANF was first launched in 1985 during the height of the Farm Crisis, by legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry, who wanted to show an increasingly urban nation why agriculture matters. For more information about the Iowa Farm Bureau/U of I ANF partnership, click on www.americaneedsfarmers.org. To learn more about the growing number of Iowans in need and ways to help, click on http://iowafba.org/.