Faces of the Forest Service

Meet Aleksey Minchenkov

June 7th, 2018 at 3:00PM

A picture of Aleksey hiking the Old Rag Mountain in Virginia; standing up on a high, rock area with a valley in the background.
Aleksey hiking the Old Rag Mountain in Virginia. (Minchenkov family photos)

Aleksey is the National Social Media Manager for the USDA Forest Service after having joined the agency in 2016. He manages the strategy and posts for all of the Forest Service’s national social media accounts, and coordinates social media efforts across all of the numerous forests, grasslands, regions, and other areas within the agency.

Aleksey was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine (then the Soviet Union). However, when he was a teenager, his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Since then he has spent most of his life in the Maryland/DC area, barring a brief stint during which he lived in New York City.


As the Forest Service’s Social Media Manger what is your favorite part of your job?

I love receiving “Thank You” notes from Facebook users. It’s no secret that in this day and age, many people use social media channels to criticize or provide their opinions about what we should be doing. Oftentimes handling social media requires extremely thick skin. But this only makes those “Thank You” messages all the more special. They are a great reminder that this agency continues to impact people’s lives in a positive fashion.


Who or what inspired you growing up?

My family was always my biggest inspiration. As a kid I always wanted to be like my brother. He was always the top student in his class, so the bar was set pretty high for me. I tried to emulate him in any way I could think of. My brother was a Japanese interpreter, so I picked up several languages (Spanish, French, and Italian) myself. He was a competitive figure skater, so I became a professional dancer. He was even my inspiration for joining the Forest Service. My brother loves the environment and early on taught me to do whatever I can to conserve it. And so it seemed only natural that I join one of the largest conservation agencies in federal government.


A picture of Aleksey Minchenkov (right) and Forest Service Multimedia Manager Cecilio Ricardo (left) with both Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl.
Aleksey Minchenkov (right) and Forest Service Multimedia Manager Cecilio Ricardo (left) with both Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl. (Forest Service photo.)

What do you like to do for fun on your free time?

I spent most of my life as a competitive Latin dancer, so to this day, dancing is something I enjoy doing whenever I can. I now try to coach whenever I get a chance. I’m currently helping a couple of friends prepare for their first Gay Olympics and even though I’m not competing myself, it’s pretty thrilling for me to relive all of the excitement of competing through their eyes.

Other than dancing I love playing tennis and occasionally reconnecting with nature by hiking and camping. And on the less physical side, I also really enjoy spending evenings playing video and board games with my friends. I do have to admit that unfortunately my competitiveness comes through during those games, however, there’s been not too many ugly moments during those friendly game nights.


How has your education, background, or personal experiences prepared you for the work that you do now?

I’m in my second decade in the communications field, with both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees focusing on strategic communications. I was also lucky enough to get into social media communications for business purposes shortly after both Facebook and Twitter launched. This allowed me to constantly grow and evolve my own skills to keep up with the ever-evolving world of social media.


A picture of Aleksey Minchenkov standing at a podium, speaking to an audience.
Prior to joining the Forest Service, as an LGBT Special Emphasis Program Managers, Aleksey Minchenkov (left) represented the National Agricultural Statistics Service at The Sum of Us: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pioneers event held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Photo by Bob Nichols.)

Describe a professional or personal achievement that you are particularly proud of.

One of the coolest experiences for me was working on international communications projects. Prior to joining the Forest Service, my job involved working with agricultural statistics. I was promoting and participating in the surveys my agency conducted and then strengthening our data dissemination efforts.

The largest international project I was involved in was helping Armenia conduct its first census of agriculture in nearly a century. To help out, I held several sessions during which I shared best practices for both data collection and dissemination. I had a chance to sit down with the professionals there to help them shape their communication strategy and prepare for their data release. To me it was amazing to see the project evolve over the years that I was involved with it. It was an amazing feeling to see my work make impact on an international scale.


How would you like the public to perceive the work we do at the Forest Service?

This agency is incredibly multifaceted. I find it incredible just how many different functions the Forest Service serves as an agency and my goal every day is to get the public to understand that about our agency. Often I see members of the public focus on one issue, forgetting about all of the incredible positive projects our agency has going.


Do you have any advice for someone wanting to serve their country as a Forest Service employee?

Be prepared to learn. That’s the most important thing I’ve realized by my second year with the agency. There are so many aspects to the Forest Service, that you’ll never stop learning new things. Forest health, recreation, fire management, research, education, business development, law enforcement, and partnerships are just some of the topics you can encounter on a daily basis. I may be biased because social media can apply to anything the Forest Service does, but to me I keep finding it incredible just how many things this agency deals with. And I still learn something new about the agency almost daily.