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Ninety Year Old Volunteers Make an Environmental Impact in North Dakota

This post originally appeared on the USDA blog on June 9, 2011.

Two women have been helping make an environmental impact in Stark County, North Dakota for nearly two decades. Lyla Schulz, 91, and Jean Herauf, 90, have each volunteered over 1,000 hours doing routine office work to allow conservationists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to spend more time working directly with farmers and ranchers.

“This lets us give better service and get more conservation on the ground,” said District Conservationist Russell E. Jordre. “When Lyla and Jean volunteer, they increase our ability to work directly with landowners so we can improve the environment for everyone.”

Paperwork and other office tasks can take up hours that conservationists could otherwise be spending in the field. Schulz and Herauf assist with client mailings, file maintenance, photocopying, form preparation and educational projects.

Both women are natives of Stark County in southwestern North Dakota. They farmed, raised families and retired before they began working with conservationists and staff as NRCS Earth Team volunteers.

Lyla Schulz grew up on a farm, but moved to Dickinson when she married. She and her husband raised nine children. She said she never heard of NRCS until she started volunteering with the agency. Now she enjoys her work so much she says wants to be an Earth Team volunteer for as long as possible.

Jean Herauf married a farmer in 1942. They raised six children and, today, Jean’s granddaughter is living and farming on the homestead. She stays active bowling, dancing, swimming and playing cards. “Jean is so busy,” said Jordre, “when we ask her to volunteer she has to check her schedule first.”

The long-time Earth Team volunteers were recently honored for their service at an award ceremony hosted by the western region of soil conservation districts.

In 2010, more than 30,000 Earth Team volunteers donated 641,735 hours of service to NRCS estimated to be worth $13.4 million. Since Earth Team was formed in 1985, over half a million volunteers have donated an estimated $327 million worth of time, in 2010 dollars, helping NRCS with its conservation mission.

You can also learn more about Earth Team, follow NRCS on Twitter, or read other conservation stories on the USDA blog.

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