Kansas employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service have been honored with three national awards for working with volunteers. All work with the Earth Team program that partners volunteers with NRCS employees to help conserve, maintain and imporove the environment.
Bernadette Luncsford, District Conservationist, St. Francis, received the Earth Team Employee Award for her commitment and contributions to the Earth Team Program. Bernadette's area was able to utilize 134 volunteers and capture 999 hours of volunteer time.
The key to Bernadette's successful program is she volunteers herself, not only taking advantage of the opportunities through NRCS and USDA but in her own community—donating blood, sorting donations at church, and speaking at civic organizations.
One of Bernadette's most notable endeavor's is the Community Garden Group she founded in St. Francis. Through this, she has recruited volunteers in non-traditional ways and will meet the people where they are if need be—if someone is homebound and wants to help, she delivers produce to them to be washed or recipe cards to be cut out for the food pantry packages. This gives everyone—the disabled, homebound, etc.—a chance to be Earth Team volunteers.
Toni Flax, Rangeland Management Specialist, Hill City, is an Area Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator for nine Management Units in Kansas and for 27 offices. Like Bernadette, Toni leads by example. She volunteers as a 4-H Leader for the Graham County Rangeland and Soils project and feels that volunteering in her community is very important and that her contributions may give her 4-H club members the confidence they need to succeed.