By Emily Bialkowski
Kelsey Bulman of Eitzen was given the prestigious 2013 National Earth Team Award from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on March 7 in Caledonia.
The honor was presented to her by Minnesota State Conservationist Don Baloun at the district conservation office in Caledonia. Bulman is the first ever winner from the state of Minnesota.
The Earth Team is the volunteer workforce of the NRCS. NRCS partners with conservation groups and others to ensure private lands are conserved, restored and more resilient to environmental challenges. Earth Team volunteers are an integral part of the conservation partnership.
“We have more work than we have people. Earth Team members help with a gambit of projects on things like timber stands and pasture improvement,” Baloun said. “Someone like Kelsey, who has an interest in coming into the field, can work for us and build their resume.”
Bulman more than built her resume after earning this award. She has set the bar very high for any volunteer and beat out literally hundreds of other applicants across 23 states.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Baloun said, adding, “It’s a reflection on the office here providing training and conservation planning.”
Staff members at the local NRCS office lauded Bulman’s work saying she’s a quick learner and experienced field worker.
“At the NRCS in Caledonia we are very proud of our Earth Team volunteers’ commitment to conservation. We want to take this opportunity to thank Kelsey Bulman for being a valued member of our conservation team. Kelsey has been working at developing conservation plans, providing survey and design assistance, as well as completing numerous others tasks,” Gary Larson, district conservationist, said.
“Her goal is to be the state conservationist of Minnesota,” Baloun joked.
Humbled by all the attention, and perhaps sore from the need to smile for dozens of pictures, Bulman said she was thankful for the opportunity to participate in the program.
Working side-by-side with farmers, the NRCS identifies natural resource concerns, such as soil erosion and water quality issues, and develops conservation plans for restoring and protecting resources. The job of conserving our natural resources cannot be done by the government alone.
Larson said, “We need the assistance of volunteers to carry out conservation goals, reducing soil erosion, conserving our water and improving its quality and developing pride in our Houston County’s natural resources heritage. Thank you for being our Earth Team volunteer, Kelsey!”