Mendocino NF Intern Receives Forest Service Accessibility Accomplishment Award

  • By Punky Moore, Public Affairs Officer, and Katy Rich, Forest Recreation Officer, R5 Accessibility Coordinator, Mendocino National Forest

A group of people stand facing the camera with one holding an award plaque.

L to R: Ann Carlson, Forest Supervisor on the Mendocino National Forest, Martin Ayala, Intern, Katy Rich, Mendocino National Forest’s Forest Recreation Officer/R5 Accessibility Coordinator, and Jeff Marsolais, Acting Deputy Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region. (USDA photo by Punky Moore)

Each year the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service honors an individual who shows commitment and leadership for the advancement and integration of accessibility in Forest Service facilities and programs. Martin Ayala is the recipient of this year’s 2017 National Forest Service Accessibility Accomplishment Award.

Martin is an outstanding individual. He has demonstrated his insight, skills, and commitment and he’s a natural leader.Janet Zeller, Forest Service National Accessibility Program Manager

In 2016, Ayala led multiple Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crews conducting accessibility surveys on all Mendocino National Forest recreation sites using the Forest Service Accessibility Database (FSAD) Survey Tool software. During these recreation site assessments, Ayala identified the areas within the online survey process that needed to be improved, then redesigned the process in detail and worked with the programmers as a major revision of the system until it was completed.

Ayala said the award was completely unexpected and literally left him at a loss for words, “When I first suggested how the survey tool could be improved, I never thought I would be recreating the whole thing. It is surreal to think that something that started off on a PowerPoint as a flow chart has been converted into a real world working application that will be used nationwide for the purposes of improving our national forests. I am really happy and grateful I was able to contribute to such an important cause.”

The work he has done will make it possible for Forest Service employees to more efficiently enter accessibility data. That data will help the Forest Service provide accurate information to visitors and improve accessibility. These assessments are now underway on national forests across the country.

“Martin is an outstanding individual. He has demonstrated his insight, skills, and commitment and he’s a natural leader,” said Janet Zeller, Forest Service National Accessibility Program Manager. “We are all privileged to work with him and excited about the continuing positive impact he will make during his Forest Service career. Congratulations Martin.”

Ayala is a Mobilize Green intern, resource assistant and a graduate of California State University, Chico.