Wednesday, January 23, 2019

NRCS Team Receives Volunteer Award

(Photo via NRCS News) Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier (left) and District Conservationist Gary Zwilling (right) stand with Earth Team volunteer, Janet Billington (center) to thank her for serving as a volunteer at the Wayne County USDA Service Center in Fairfield, Illinois.

 Champaign, IL   January 16, 2019 –Staff from Southern Illinois who make up USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS’s) Edwards-Lawrence-Richland-Wayne-Wabash County District Group were recognized for accomplishments achieved when they captured 340 hours of hard work from talented Earth Team volunteer, Mrs. Janet Billington. Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier traveled to Fairfield, IL to present the award to the NRCS team and to meet Billington on January 10, 2019. By working together, these individuals accomplished a tremendous amount of conservation work that supports the NRCS mission and use of conservation programs and practices NRCS administers. “Thanks are due to the volunteer and to our NRCS Team who found her and put her time and skills to valuable tasks and local work that truly impacts NRCS customers and the natural resources we protect,” says Dozier.

District Conservationist for the group, Gary Zwilling, is proud his team received the agency’s traveling award for Fiscal Year 2018. The award will spend time in each county’s Field Offices for the rest of the fiscal year to thank and recognize all staff who helped make this successful use of this community volunteer possible.

“There’s no doubt we value our employees, but we want to show them the extra appreciation for using the volunteer program to get even more quality work on the land. It’s hard to put a price on what 340 hours of hard volunteer work means. It’s great to have our state leader notice the effort and shows us all how much he appreciates their work,” Zwilling said.

Janet’s efforts helped free up both NRCS and local Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District staff so they could focus more on the heavy Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) workload they face during summer months. A quick learner and a good communicator, Janet helped in the office and tackled the tough job of completing important paperwork and government program forms. She also reviewed and organized about 2,200 Wayne County case files, which is about 25% of the total files on hand in the office. According to Zwilling, Billington’s work not only accomplished important NRCS conservation work, but it also earned her college credits towards the Ag Business Production and Technology degree she is pursuing at Wabash Valley Community College in Mt. Carmel, Illinois.

NRCS uses the Earth Team volunteer program in Illinois---and in all 50 states--to use the time, skills, and passion of local people to do work that protects and enhances soil, water, and other natural resources all citizens and communities share. “If you are a student looking for job experience, a way to job shadow, or a retiree with technical skills or interest in helping protect land, water, and the environment, seriously consider the Earth Team. It offers an opportunity to learn and use important skills that can make a difference in your life and for your piece of the planet,” Dozier adds. To learn more, contact your local NRCS office or visit

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