2021 Eastern Region Honor Award Recipients

Congratulations to the Eastern Region’s 2021 Honor Awards recipients! The Honor Awards recognize people, partnerships and projects that exemplify the USDA Forest Service’s motto, “Caring for the Land and Serving People.” A lot of amazing work happened last year. Watch the videos below to learn more about the Eastern Region award recipients and their work to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Watch the full Honor Awards Program on Vimeo.

Goal 1 – Sustain the Nation’s Forests and Grasslands

Winner – Silviculture Team

Superior National Forest Silviculture Team honor awards video title slide

Superior National Forest

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the Superior National Forest to put a hold on reforestation efforts in 2020. In 2021, the team came back stronger than ever, and with the help of partners and contractors, planted more than 1.3 million seedlings across the forest. That’s double the average planting year for the forest – and the work was completed in just seven weeks. The variety of tree species planted will ensure a watershed restoration and a healthy habitat for wildlife.

Team members

  • The Nature Conservancy: Chris Dunham
  • Superior National Forest: Benjamin Bartz, John Bennett, Laura Butterfield, Pat Carlson, Keely Drange, AnneMarie Ehlers, Dave Grosshuesch, Rich Kujawa, Carl Layman, Kathy McTighe, Kaysee Miller, Matt Modlin, Ryan Pennesi, Sarah Poznanovic, Kyle Stover, Scott Swanson, Myra Theimer, Kelvin Trybn, Paul Valento

Honorable Mention – NEPA Easy Button

NEPA Easy Button honor awards video title slide

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Huron-Manistee National Forests

The catchphrase, “There’s an easier way to do that” now goes for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) projects, too! Introducing the NEPA Easy Button. A cross-functional team on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest partnered to create a spatial data “easy button” leveraging ongoing efficiency efforts, Python scripting and subject matter expertise. The result: a streamlined process providing consistency of data management and NEPA project organization.

Team members

  • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest: Dan Hinson, Sarah Holmes, Jennifer Maziasz, Sarah Meyer, Jerry Petruzalek, John Schmidt, Gregory Smoczyk, Jedd Ungrodt
  • Huron-Manistee National Forests: Deb Veen


Goal 2 – Deliver Benefits to the Public

Winner – Glendale-Dixon Springs Mountain Bike Trail

Glendale-Dixon Springs Mountain Bike Trail honor awards video title slide

Shawnee National Forest

Mountain bike enthusiasts in southern Illinois have miles of new trails to traverse. Sixteen miles on the Shawnee National Forest and three miles at Dixon Springs State Park are now dual designated (hiking and biking) in an interconnected system across Illinois Department of Natural Resources and US Forest Service lands. The two agencies and a non-profit interest group joined forces, each bringing a unique perspective, to support the growing outdoor recreation activity.

Team members

  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Ned Enrietto, Chris L. McGuinness
  • Shawnee Mountain Bike Association: Matt Carey, Phillip Carrier, Shawn Moore
  • Shawnee National Forest: Chad Deaton, Megan Martin, Tim Pohlman, Jeremy Vaughn

Honorable Mention – Virtual Leave No Trace

Virtual Leave No Trace honor awards video title slide

Superior National Forest

In a typical year, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Superior National Forest welcomes 150,000 visitors. Covid-19 sent even more people into the outdoors. For the protection of staff, visitors, and the forest itself, a team of forest employees acted quickly to develop a safe process for providing wilderness education and issuing permits – a virtual Leave No Trace program.

Team members

  • Superior National Forest: Scott Benzing, Susan Boyd, Susan Catton, Orry Hatcher, Ellen Hillborn, Christine Kolinski, Luke Laaveg, Josh Lagrada, Debra Lamusga, Melissa Long, Melissa Macho, Stellar Mason, Susan McGowan-Stinski, Alex Miller, Colleen Rablin, Corinne Saumer, Ann Schwaller, Bill Shelley, Sue Smerud, Rozanne Tea, Amy Wilfarht, Maggie Whiting


Goal 3 – Apply Knowledge Globally

Winner – Arboreta Project

Arboreta Project honor awards video title slide

State & Private Forestry-Durham Field Office

The value of partnerships to deliver the USDA Forest Service’s mission cannot be understated. What began as a pilot project with urban arboreta to detect non-native pests led to the discovery of a new species of beetle. The USDA Forest Service and urban arboreta in New York and Massachusetts teamed up for project aimed at early detection of destructive non-native pests. What the team uncovered along the way led to an international collaboration.

Team members

  • Arnold Arboretum: John DelRossa, Andrew Gapinski
  • Green-Wood Cemetery: Joseph Charap, Sara Evans
  • State & Private Forestry: Michael Bohne, Marc DiGirolomo, Kevin Dodds

Honorable Mention – Sign Inventory Application Development

Sign Inventory Application Development honor awards video title slide

Eastern Region, Superior National Forest

Maintaining an updated sign inventory on our national forests is critical to better serving the public. However, it’s been difficult to do largely because of a lack of resources. A new app developed by a cross-functional team of Superior National Forest and Regional Office staff aims to make the process easier.

Team members

  • Eastern Region – Engineering: Jeffrey Erwin, Robert Geitner
  • Superior National Forest: Sadra Davey, Eric Gdula, Erica Hahn


Goal 4 – Excel as a High Performing Agency

Winner – Brown-headed Nuthatch Reintroduction

Brown-headed Nuthatch Reintroduction honor awards video title slide

Mark Twain National Forest

“Squeaka, squeaka.” That’s the sound of a brown-headed nuthatch, and it’s music to people’s ears on the Mark Twain National Forest. After more than a century, this small songbird is making a triumphant return to Missouri. Forest and Northern Research Station employees have been working with the Missouri Department of Conservation and other partners to translocate brown-headed nuthatches from Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas to sites within the Mark Twain.

Team members

  • Central Hardwoods Joint Venture: Jane Fitzgerald
  • Mark Twain National Forest: Brian Davidson, Jody Eberly (retired), Eleven Point Ranger District, Poplar Ranger District, Sherri Schwenke, Angie Trombley
  • Missouri Department of Conservation: Sarah Kendrick
  • Northern Research Station: Daniel Dey, John Kabrick, Lauren Pile, Frank R. Thompson
  • Tall Timbers Research Station: Jim Cox
  • Southern Region: Jason Garrett, Troy Heithecker, Warren Montague, Poteau-Cold Springs Ranger District, Clay VanHorn
  • University of Missouri – School of Natural Resources: Tom Bonnot, Kristen Heath, Michael Stambaugh

Honorable Mention - HistoriCorps Partnership Forest Lodge

HistoriCorps Partnership Forest Lodge honor awards video title slide

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Forest Lodge Estate, located in the heart of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making the preservation and rehabilitation of its buildings paramount. This summer, crews made up of federal, private, and non-profit team members set out to restore the main lodge, the oldest structure on the grounds. After several challenges, the result was a structurally-sound and weather-proof roof – and new and strengthened relationships between partners, students and volunteers trained in historic preservation and roofing techniques.

Team members

  • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest: Mark Beuning, Amy Lesher, Janice McInerny, Deb Proctor
  • Grants & Agreements: Nicole Peltier, Tina Smith (retired)
  • Northern Research Station: Colby Baker-Thaker, Daniel Ensalaco, Denis Moran, Jason Whitehead


Special Regional Forester’s Award

Jane Mobley

Jane Mobley honor awards video title slide

Mark Twain National Forest

For 16 years, Jane Mobley has served the Mark Twain National Forest as a Workforce Development specialist. She is responsible for the implementation and coordination of a variety of Human Resources programs that expand our workforce capacity. She has built a robust network and invested in relationships focused on connecting individuals with a desire, interest, and capability to opportunities on the forest. Jane’s passion for helping people become successful Forest Service employees has positioned the agency to thrive.