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Rise to the Future Awards

Office of Communication
USDA Forest Service

During a virtual ceremony on May 26, Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen and Acting Deputy Chief Tina Terrell announced the 14 employees and partners who are recipients of the 2020 Rise to the Future awards.

The awards, created more than 30 years ago, recognizes leadership in stewardship of fisheries, soil, water and air resources on national forests and grasslands. In recent years, the Jack Adams and Lloyd Switch Sr. awards were added to distinguish excellence in wildlife program management.

The winners showcase a wide variety of work on and behalf of national forests and grasslands.

“2020 was a very challenging year. First, a pandemic that changed how we get our work done. A historic fire season in the west and a series of devastating storms in the south,” said Chief Christiansen. “I continue to be amazed at the resilience and perseverance of our employees and partners to face the challenges that come our way.”

The awards and recipients are:

 

Fish Your National Forests Award

A picture of Candice Price and Wayne Hubbard.

Candice Price and Wayne Hubbard of Urban American Outdoors are honored for their work to introduce fishing to young people. Urban American Outdoors, whose motto is Where Diversity Meets Nature, is a nationally recognized partner committed to youth education and increasing diversity outdoors. For 16 years, they hosted kids fishing derbies across the country, serving inner-city youth of all racial and cultural backgrounds. The innovation and commitment of the organization to kids and fishing together are unprecedented. In 2020, they created virtual fishing derbies to keep children and their families engaged in the outdoors during a time when the nation quarantined. The two virtual derbies they staged in 2020 attracted more than 1,700 young people and their families from 26 states. Since its inception, the program has reached more than 200,000 children through the fishing derbies. The next virtual Urban Kids Fish Derby is from June 5-13.

 

Collaborative/Integrated Aquatic Stewardship Award

The Himes Creek Instream Flow Project Team on the San Juan National Forest in Colorado collaborated to achieve critical aquatic habitat protection for a trout once thought to be extinct. Working within the confines of Colorado State Law, the team’s integrated efforts secured instream water flow to protect trout habitat on lands managed by the Forest Service, an accomplishment recognized by the Governor of Colorado. These protections would not be in place without the strong collaboration of partnership. The team includes representatives from the following organizations:

 

Early Career Professional Excellence Award

Ali Reddington of the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee is honored for her significant contributions to the Forest Soil and Water Program, including expanding the program, leading the Best Management Practices monitoring program, and building strategic partnerships. Reddington also developed the Citico Creek Conservation Intern program, which, among other things, trains interns to lead free snorkeling events for campers. Reddington is known for not letting resource limitations stand in the way of getting meaningful conversation work accomplished. While her nine years with the Cherokee is a highly, she worked across agency boundaries on resource management issues with other forests. Reddington provides support to several forests and continually reaches across boundaries to accomplish meaningful conservation work. She also is a specialist in burned area emergency response following a wildfire and integrates other specialists and experts to accomplish work on the ground.

Friend of the Fish/Watershed Award

A side-by-side picture of a river on one side and on the other heavy equipment installing a culvert over a creek area.

Doug Wise and the Engineering staff at the Rocky Mountain Regional Office are cited for their work using the Great American Outdoors Act to establish a project evaluation team, bringing together multiple resource leads to prioritize projects. The engineering staff has been instrumental in facilitating 15 aquatic organism passage projects in the region, working to address deferred maintenance of the region’s infrastructure. The collaboration between fisheries, engineering, and other programs within the agency provided the region with an integrated and productive team leading the way to complete many beneficial and crucial projects. These projects improved recreational fishing access across the region and opened new opportunities to work with external partners, engage local students, and continue to improve fish habitat on the forests.

Line Officer Award

A picture of Chuck Mark holding a 5 gallon bucket on the edge of a creek.

Chuck Mark, supervisor of the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho, is honored as a strong supporter of fisheries management. The 4.3-million-acre forest contains a large variety of aquatic habitats, including rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and man-made reservoirs. Those waters are home to 35 types of fish. A large part of the fish management work completed under Mark’s leadership benefits endangered, threatened, and sensitive fish species, including Sockeye and Chinook salmon and Steelhead and bull trout, all listed under the Endangered Species Act, and the Westslope cutthroat trout and Big Lost River Mountain white fish, which are considered by the Forest Service as sensitive species. The fish management work on the Forest has required careful integration and collaboration among numerous Forest programs including aviation, engineering, fuels, fire, GIS, minerals, planning, public affairs, range, recreation, timber, watersheds, and wildlife. Each of these programs has made important contributions to fish work on the Forest. Mark’s leadership has allowed this teamwork to occur.

Partnership Award

Truckee River Watershed Council is honored for the ongoing partnership through the “Together with the Truckee” campaign to protect, enhance, and restore the Truckee River watershed, which includes the Tahoe National Forest in California. The Council brought together a community around a common goal of restoring resiliency to the watershed by using educational outreach and citizen science to build support for ongoing restoration efforts. For more than 25 years, they organized the annual Truckee River Day, which attracts hundreds of volunteers to help support restoration projects by mulching, planting, pulling weeds, and building beaver dam analogs. Through grants and donations, the Council has raised more than $20 million for restoration work in the watershed, with more than half of that amount for work on lands managed by the Forest Service. The Council completed more than 50 major projects, including 30 on Forest Service lands. The Truckee River Watershed Council has combatted degradation due to environmental stressors and increasing recreational use, while also creating a more resilient watershed, by bringing together community and stakeholder support for restoration, working to create a data-driven process for prioritizing restoration projects and quantifying restoration benefits, and leveraging available funding to complete the work on the ground.

Professional Excellence - Fish Management Award

A picture of Kate Meyer holding a steelhead near the edge of a riverbank.

Kate Meyer, a fisheries biologist on the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, is recognized as an employee on the forefront at a rapidly evolving understanding of river ecology and practical means for recovering imperiled stocks of salmonids. Meyer developed new methods for analyzing riparian reserves, found innovative ways to secure funding and resources for projects, worked with partners to restore high priority aquatic habitat funded by external grants, and is an instrumental team member in developing a novel method of process-based stream restoration. Meyer’s leadership helped the forest complete a regionally acclaimed 600-acre flood plain restoration project in two years, bringing dramatic changes for both aquatic and terrestrial species in the area. Her drive and passion to protect and actively restore fisheries resources in the McKenzie River sub-basin and beyond helped make substantial progress in large-scale restoration for the benefit of the endangered Chinook and bull-trout populations. She also worked with a team to develop new methods of riparian Reserve analysis, including using satellite imagery.

Public Awareness Award

The Youth Snorkeling Program Willamette National Forest in Oregon is a collaboration between Erick Larkin of the Forest Service and Kristin Daly of the Calapooia Watershed Council. The program is designed to get local students in grades 6-12 engaged in learning about watershed processes, increase their feeling of connection to the river, and learn about the ecosystem services provided by the national forest. Students are introduced to the “we all live upriver” concept with the hope that it may foster ownership and responsibility to sustain the health of our watersheds. Larkin and Daly were joined in their effort by the South Santiam Watershed Council and the Pacific Northwest Research Station to further expand the program, reaching kids in multiple communities outside the forest. The Youth Snorkeling program has been beneficial in bringing kids and nature together.

Jim Sedell Research Achievement Award

 

A picture of Peter R. Robichaud

Peter R. Robichaud of the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Colorado is recognized for his ongoing research to improve postfire risk assessments of soil burn severity and erosion potential, treatments for erosion reduction, erosion measurement techniques for research and practitioners, prediction technology, and postfire forest management. Robichaud has focused much of his career in the postfire environment and its implication of soil erosion and watershed response. His research has improved postfire risk assessments of soil burn severity and erosion potential, treatments for erosion reduction, erosion measurement techniques for research and practitioners, prediction technology, and postfire forest management. His work is applied to address the key management issues of sediment and runoff following wildfire, from forest roads, and forest harvest. Robichaud’s research leadership is widely recognized nationally and internationally. He has published more than 180 technical articles with more than 6,000 citations. He has been invited to speak on more than 200 occasions at national and international scientific society  and specialty conferences worldwide.

Field Soil Scientist Award

Tricia Prentice of the Forest Service Business Operations Enterprise Program is recognized for her highly innovative and effective methods for assessing soil resources. She contributed to complex forest plan revisions and multi-forest planning efforts across multiple Forest Service regions. She also assisted the Forest Service International Programs and provided soil resource information across agency boundaries to the Bureau of Land Management. Prentice presented new methodology for stratifying the landscape utilizing a Detrimental Soil Disturbance Risk Index. This provided a method to assess the varying level of risks for project implementation making the soil resource information relevant to the line officer decision. Tricia accomplished efficient and effective soil resource analyses, sustained exceptional effectiveness and creativity in the face of COVID-19, and demonstrated exceptional commitment to maintaining the integrity of soil resources throughout the entire national forests and grasslands system.

‘Wagon Wheel Gap’ Hydrology Award

Jim Mineau, a hydrologist on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin, is recognized for his exceptional leadership in water resource stewardship. Mineau designs and implements a wide variety of projects to improve watershed conditions ranging from removal of small dams and barriers, restoration of stream channel morphology, increasing and improving aquatic organism passages, reducing sedimentation and improving riparian corridors, and addressing emergency flood issues. Mineau’s skills were critical when an unprecedented rain/flood event in 2016 affected several hundred square miles of forest land and again a few years later with another natural weather event. His expertise in flood recovery and watershed protection and restoration extends across the 1.5-million-acre Chequamegon-Nicolet and the landscape of northern Wisconsin and into the Great Lakes basin. The agency has an abundance of water resources in the forest, including 2,000 miles of perennial streams, 600 lakes, and 325,000 acres of wetlands.  

Paul Miller Air Award

Trent Wickman of the Forest Service’s Eastern Region is recognized as a strong leader in the Air Resource Management program at the unit, regional and national levels. Wickman has taken a leadership role in preparing Forest Service air specialists for their review of Regional Haze State Implementation Plans for compliance with the Clean Air Act. His strong communication and technical skills have helped Forest Service staff, partners, and the public understand and act on complex issues concerning air quality assessment, protection, and the importance of good air quality in public lands management. He leads workshops and develops directions for agency air quality specialists to ensure the Forest Service fulfills requirements of the Clean Air Act and Regional Haze Rule. This once-in-a-decade, in-depth consultation process with all 50 states is a high priority for the Forest Service air specialists, as this is one of the few opportunities that the Forest Service has to directly influence emission reduction plans, improve visibility and air quality, enhance recreation experiences, promote the health of national forests and grasslands, and increase ecosystem services such as providing clean water and timber.

Lloyd Swift Sr. Award

Nancy Francine of the Plumas National Forest in California is recognized for a lifetime of dedication, commitment, and leadership in the management of the wildlife, fisheries, and rare plant resources of the U.S. Throughout her more than 30-year federal career, Francine’s demonstrated dedication and commitment to developing and working with internal and external partners in a collaborative manner have increased our understanding of how to sustain and enhance wildlife and fisheries resources, including diverse projects on bumblebees, frogs, bats, California spotted owls, and goshawks, to name a few. On the Plumas, Francine empowered employees to accomplish diverse projects, including valuable restoration and ecological studies, and expand the work through productive science and conservation collaboration. With partner support, she developed an aquatic invasive species program, prioritized removing barriers that restrict or impede the movement of aquatic organisms, among numerous other projects. She also developed a partnership with the Integral Ecology Research Center to address the clean-up of illegal marijuana sites, documenting and quantifying the ecological affects  of illegal cannabis cultivation on fish, wildlife and other resources.

Jack Adams Award

David Lockman, a wildlife biologist on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana, is recognized for exemplifying the characteristics and qualities of Jack Adams, a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service from 1961-1984. During Lockman’s 39-plus-year career, most of which he spent on the Bitterroot, he earned the respect of  as a hard-working biologist who is energetic, dependable and trustworthy. He is a key member of the forest’s National Environmental Protection Act team and consistently strives for excellence in his work. Lockman anticipates potential problems well in advance, presents information, and offers solutions. His solid timber background, education, and field experience in wildlife biology make him a great asset. He is an expert in bird research and has for 20 years managed by the Stevensville (Montana) Annual Christmas Bird Count, collecting information from participants that he shares with the National Audubon Society. He also conducts bird surveys as part of the North American Breeding Bird Survey, a cooperative effort between the U.S. and Canada. He also has his eye on the next generation of biologists. For 10 years, he partners with the Florence-Carlton Elementary School kindergarten class to study birds in the winter and then bird banding in the spring.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/rise-future-awards