Linda Southall honored for exceptional career in conservation education

Linda Southall is presented her Gifford Pinchot award plaque by Toby Bloom, both smiling

Linda Southall, left, of Townsend, Mont. was presented the USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot Award for the agency’s Northern Region during the 2019 National Association for Interpretation conference in Denver. Southall is pictured with Toby Bloom, Forest Service National Program Manager for Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation. USDA Forest Service photo by Cheri Tarbet.

HELENA, Mont. (December 9, 2019) – Linda Southall of Townsend, Mont. was recently recognized with the USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot Award for Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education for her exceptional career teaching the public about Montana’s natural resources. Southall was presented with the award for the Forest Service’s Northern Region–spanning north Idaho, Montana, and parts of the Dakotas–during a ceremony at the National Association for Interpretation conference in Denver last month.

Southall has worked for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest for 30 years as the Conservation Educator on the Townsend Ranger District. She has championed many popular programs aimed at connecting local youth to their nearby National Forest, and has been a regular fixture at county fairs, 4-H competitions, local Tree Board projects, and other community events. Southall is close friends with Smokey Bear, often joining the fire prevention icon to teach people of all ages about being safe with anything that can cause a spark. Southall’s talents and commitment as an educator and public lands steward have earned her the high regard of the residents of Townsend and nearby communities, and of her colleagues, who nominated her for the Gifford Pinchot Award.

“It is inspiring to watch Linda connect with her audience,” said Liz Burke, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Conservation Educator based out of Helena. “Rambunctious school children quiet down, community members lean in, and people truly listen to Linda’s conservation message and admire her commitment.”

“Conservation education touches lives, especially those of our young forest visitors who will become the stewards of our public lands,” said Mike Welker, Townsend District Ranger. “Some of Linda’s students have gone on to careers with the Forest Service and others are now members and leaders of local conservation groups, but all have benefited from her dedication to conservation. Linda has impacted generations of forest users–a legacy that will provide long–lasting benefits for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.”

Southall will retire from the Forest Service at the end of December.

The Gifford Pinchot Award for Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education recognizes accomplishments in developing and delivering interpretive and educational programs. The national and regional recipients of this award do work that engages the American people and visitors from across the globe through world–class visitor services. Their work strengthens essential partnerships between the Forest Service and the public and, perhaps most importantly, helps grow the next generation of public lands stewards. Visit to learn more about how the Forest Service connects people to nature.



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