This year the Forest Service revamped the annual awards to recognize excellence by volunteers in five areas and expanded honorees to include staff and partners who have contributed significantly towards Volunteers & Service efforts that exemplify “Caring for the Land and Serving People.” Here are the 2014 honorees.
Citizen Stewardship & Partnerships
Kirstin Peterson and Matt Hebberd, Utah
Kirsten Peterson and Matt Hebberd from the Intermountain Region embody the spirt of citizen stewardship by expanding stewardship engagement efforts on the Manti-La Sal National Forest. They established the Lower Utah Nordic Alliance to maintain Manti-La Sal National Forest trails for recreation use. During the winter months, their group of trained volunteers groom and maintain snow-filled trails twice a week for visitors who want to enjoy sledding, snowboarding, skiing, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, or other winter activities in the mountains. With only two snow mobiles, 30 strong volunteers pull the grooming equipment up the trails, and groom 8 miles of trail! The effectiveness of the Lower Utah Nordic Alliance partnership is directly attributed to Kirstin and Matt’s commitment to the Manti-La Sal National Forest and winter sports, partnerships, and community engagement.
Greening Youth Foundation, Georgia
Greening Youth Foundation is recognized for the Cultural Diversity award for its incredible job to increase diversity in the work place by recruiting diverse youth to work on conservation and natural resource projects on Forest Service lands. Greening Youth Foundation youth are exposed to natural and cultural resource concepts through school-based conservation education, local community based outreach and events, Youth Conservation Corps employment, and internships. The Foundation has been integral to the success of the Atlanta Children’s Forest Network and the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership. They provided long-term internship opportunities to youth from historically black colleges and universities on the Talladega, Shoal Creek, and Tuskegee Ranger Districts and on the Chattahoochee National Forest. These interns have contributed substantially to high priority conservation work including red cockaded woodpecker restoration. Greening Youth Foundation has also worked with the Shoal Creek and Blue Ridge Ranger Districts to provide quality conservation employment opportunities for diverse Youth Conservation Corps enrollees. In 2014, they partnered with the Forest Service and Spellman University to employ biology student interns to propagate Georgia aster in partnership with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and then to restore the rare plant to suitable habitats on the Chattahoochee National Forest. Also on this forest, the FS jointly sponsored a six-week residential YCC program with GYF and a local college for 12 urban youth. The Greening Youth Foundation is a great partner helping the Forest Service expand training natural and cultural resource opportunities for more youth.
David Gross, Oregon
Forest Service employee David Gross is recognized for purposely increasing diversity, and reaching out to different communities to recruit a diverse population of volunteers. He coordinates Youth Conservation Corps and volunteer programs on the Mt. Hood National Forest. David works tirelessly to outreach to diverse constituencies such as youth service corps, local schools, churches, youth development and other organizations to promote employment and volunteer opportunities on his forest. His outreach includes young people most at risk to drop out of high school and those being rehabilitated after finding themselves in the juvenile justice system. Due to a large Spanish speaking population, David learned Spanish so he can communicate in a more personal way with local Latino youth. In 2014, 33 percent of the Mt. Hood National Forest Youth Conservation Corps participants identified themselves as Hispanic and 20 percent had disabilities. His outreach furthers the agency’s 21CSC goals.
Jim Meade, Montana
The Enduring Service Award recognizes Jim Meade who has volunteered at Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana for over 16 years, contributing over 7,000 hours! As an Exhibit Hall Docent Jim helps visitors enjoy the Center by answering their questions thus enhancing their knowledge of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. As a Front Desk Docent he assists visitors to create a pleasant and informative climate for visitors and presents interpretive talks such as “The Great Cross Country Race” about John Colter’s lifesaving race with the Blackfeet Indians and “Some Assembly Required” about Lewis’ Iron Boat. He provided interpretive services at special annual events such as the Winter Warmup Program, Film Festival, Sunday Sampler, Anniversary, Riverside Voices, Star Party Extravaganza, Voices in the Shadows, “Trails and Rails” and Lewis and Clark programs for the School for the Blind. Over the years Jim earned 10 Volunteer Passes for the many hours he contributed helping make the Interpretive Center the number one attraction in Great Falls.
Mt. Hood Chapter Pacific Crest Trail Association, Oregon
The Mt. Hood Chapter of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is recognized for their leadership efforts in the Pacific Northwest Region. Their innovation, impact, and vision have helped the Forest Service maintain the Pacific Crest Trail and feeder trails. Mount Hood Chapter embodies some of the most dedicated, highly trained, and qualified volunteers. When volunteers noticed a decline in Forest Service personnel for saws training support they took on the responsibility to train and certify other volunteers to use chainsaw and crosscut saws. David Roe, a volunteer with PCTA, took skilled sawyers into his shop and taught them the lost art of sharpening crosscut saws. In 2014, the Mt. Hood Chapter contributed 14,000 volunteer hours, twice their 2013 performance. In 2014 they expanded their projects by informing locals on wilderness awareness and new partnerships with local organizations, The Mt. Hood Chapter of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is a group of problem-solving, resourceful, pioneers who use their leadership skills to effectively
to serve and protect public lands and help promote the Forest Service mission.
Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, California
Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC) is recognized for its commitment to natural resource restoration. This six-member non-profit team in Twain Harte, California has protected water, wildlife, and wild places of the Northern Yosemite Region. Following the 2013 Rim Fire that consumed over 257,000 acres across the forested landscape of the Stanislaus National Forest, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center played a key role in the restoration effort. They identified funds for meadow restoration assessment needs and conducted a technical study of springs and wetlands in the burn area. In 2014, they set an unprecedented record completing 17 volunteer restoration projects on the Stanislaus with more than 180 participants and 1,318 hours of labor donated. Volunteers removed 700 pounds of trash, pulled thousands of invasive plants, maintained 3.5 miles of trail, naturalized and restored 4.25 miles of erosive and illegal off-road vehicle routes, fences and/or restored 4 acres of meadows, installed 103 bollard/posts to block vehicle traffic into sensitive habitats, and cleaned up and maintained 10 camping/day use locations. As a partner to the Stanislaus National Forest, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center bridges the gap for the Forest Service to outreach, recruit, and organize volunteers to implement a range of restoration projects efficiently and safely.
The Forest Service is proud to recognize these individuals, organizations, and partners for their exceptional work.
Are you interested in volunteering or partnering with the Forest Service? Find out more about how you can work with us!