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United States Department of Agriculture

Aviation News & Events

FHP Aviation Safety Award

Safety Award image Safety Award

Forest Health Protection (FHP) commemorates and acknowledges the contributions made by Rod Whiteman, Dan Snider and Patrick Jessup by annually recognizing excellence in Forest Health Aviation activities.

These exceptional individuals have made significant contributions in:
1) Promoting a positive aviation safety culture,
2) Forest health aviation activities directly benefiting the resource, and
3) Building efficiency and effectiveness among Federal and State partners in Forest Health Aviation Safety.

We sincerely thank you!

2018 - Bill Ciesla. Bill Ciesla, entomologist, receiving this year’s award from Jeff Mai and Brian Howell, R2 Aerial Survey Program Manager

This year’s award was presented to Bill Ciesla, Entomologist. Bill has made unsurpassed contributions to regional, national and state aerial survey programs for more than half a century. He’s been a surveyor, a trainer and a program manager. His resume includes aerial survey development and support to four USFS Regions (Regions 1, 2, 6, and 8) and five countries (United States, Brazil, Mexico, Kenya and Sudan). Even in Bill’s ‘retirement’ from the USFS he continued to fly aerial survey work for the State of Colorado. In addition to his thousands of hours flying survey Bill has dedicated himself to training several generations of aerial observers. Pre-mission safety, safe mission operation, and post mission reporting are all integral to maintaining a safe environment for a successful aerial survey program and he encourages his students to be actively engaged in all parts of that culture of safety. Bill has also literally ‘written the book’ on aerial detection survey. In fact, he has written three of them: Aerial Signature of Forest Insect and Disease Damage in the Western United States (2006), Aerial Signatures of Forest Damage in the Eastern United States (2008), and Aerial Signatures of Forest Damage in Colorado and Adjoining States (2015). In addition to these publications, he has made numerous contributions to technical reports and other documents supporting forest health management and aerial survey influencing management on the ground. There will perhaps never be another single individual who will have the kind of global impact on forest health surveys as Bill Ciesla.

2017 - Donna Leonard. Award presentation for Donna Leonard

This year’s award was presented to Donna Leonard, Region 8 Entomologist, during the 2017 Gypsy Moth Program Managers Meeting in Utica, IL. The meeting was very well attended by federal and state partners, essentially providing an after action review including operational and safety topics and contract review for federal and state program managers involved with aerial application. Donna is pictured receiving the award from Dan Zimmerman, Northeastern Area Aviation Officer and Jeff Mai, FHP Nat’l Aviation Safety Manager and Aerial Survey Program Manager. Acting FHP Director, Rick Cooksey, also joined remotely in making the presentation. We thank Donna for her years of exemplary service, her success with Slow the Spread, and for the safety and management improvements she has brought to regional, national and state aerial application programs across the country. It is because of efforts like this and people like her that we also acknowledge 14 years of accident-free aerial application. Congratulations Donna Leonard and to everyone contributing to an excellent safety record in FHP and partner aviation programs!

2016 - Brian Howell. Brian Howell, Region 2 FHP Aerial Survey Program Manager, receiving the award from Frank Sapio, Assistant Director FHP

This year’s award was presented to Brian Howell, Region 2 FHP Aerial Survey Program Manager. Brian routinely goes far beyond the duties of his position to achieve safety and operational excellence within the region, states and abroad. He provides exceptional quality and safety assurance oversight and coordination across a very complex survey program, supporting cooperator involvement and delivering survey results of the highest quality to a wide array of stakeholders. Brian also led the effort to secure Interagency Agreements for use of US Fish and Wildlife Service aircraft and helped to inform the Agency multi-mission aircraft replacement effort, contributing to safety and production improvements nationally. His efforts have significantly influenced and contributed toward an exceptional safety record not only for his state personnel and the Rocky Mountain Region, but for FHP and partner organizations nationally. Congratulations and thank you Brian!

2015 - Don Eggen. Don Eggen, Forest Health Manager, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (left) receiving the award from Bob Rabaglia, USFS FHP

This year’s award was presented to Don Eggen, Forest Health Manager, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Don has been a leader affecting positive change in forest health monitoring, management and aviation safety for over three decades. He was a principal advocate in establishing and Chairing the Aerial Application Safety Council, is regularly engaged with the Forest Health Monitoring and Aerial Survey Working Groups and frequently orchestrates key meetings and training for state a federal personnel. Don routinely emerges as a positive and well-respected expert, going far beyond the duties of his position and settling for nothing less than excellence in forest health and aviation safety. His efforts have significantly influenced and measurably contributed toward an exceptional safety record not only his state personnel, but for FHP and partner organizations nationally. Congratulations and thank you Don!

2014 - Ben Smith. Ben Smith, acting Unit Aviation Officer, Pacific Northwest Region (left).

This year’s award was presented to Ben Smith, acting Unit Aviation Officer, Pacific Northwest Region. Ben has been a strong supporter of the cooperative efforts between the USFS, Oregon Department of Forestry and Washington State Department of Natural Resources in the successful and safe execution of forest health aerial detection survey programs for over a decade. Ben continually places safety as the highest priority, promoting Safety Management Systems. He is passionate about all aspects of forest health and forest health aviation, has taken his expertise to the classroom as a qualified Interagency Aviation Training instructor at Fire and Aviation Management-sponsored events and annually at Aerial Survey Aviation Safety and Management for over five years. He is a member of the Aerial Survey Working Group and volunteers for special assignments such as addressing forest conditions issues nationally through the Survey Requirements Team and developing fresh, new training curriculum.

2013 - Joe Duda. Joe Duda, Deputy State Forester with the Colorado State Forest Service (Center); The award was presented by Jim Hubbard, Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry (Right) with Jeff Mai, FHP Aviation Safety Manager (Left)

This year’s award was presented to Joe Duda, Deputy State Forester with the Colorado State Forest Service. Joe has been a strong supporter of cooperative efforts and the safe execution of Aerial Surveys for over a decade. He participates during key meetings and training, leads by example, engaging CSFS employees and even flying survey himself. Joe places safety as the highest priority and has contributed to developing a positive, effective and long-term cooperative partnership.

2012 - Dan Zimmerman. Northeastern Area S&PF Assistant Director Mark Buccowich accepting the award, for Dan Zimmerman, from FHP Deputy Director Anne Hoover (also pictured is Jeff Mai, FHP Aerial Survey and Aviation Safety Manager).

This year’s award was presented to Dan Zimmerman, Northeastern Area Aviation Officer.

2011 - Ken Zogas. Ken Zogas, Biological Science Technician and Aerial Surveyor with the Alaska Region

This year’s award was presented to Ken Zogas, Biological Science Technician and Aerial Surveyor with the Alaska Region. Ken has over 30 years flying aerial survey in Alaska and has a wealth of information he shares with cooperators. Alaska presents some of the most difficult conditions in the country and Ken has a reputation for always placing safety above production.

2013 - David Lance accepting award for Victor Mastro. David Lance accepting award for Victor Mastro

2013 - Jason Clark receiving award for Ernest Dankwa Jason Clark receiving award for Ernest Dankwa

2013 Annual Gypsy Moth Review, Evanston, IL. Ernest Dankwa of Valent Biosciences was recognized with the Leadership and Professional Service Contribution Award, assisting forest protection managers around the globe with biorational insecticides; accepting the award for Ernest is Jason Clark. Victor Mastro of APHIS-PPQ was recognized with the Lifetime Contribution Award, developing the Sterile Insect Technique for lymantria dispar dispar eradication and for decades of regulatory, detection, survey and control accomplishments; accepting the award for Victor is David Lance. Presenting is Carl Harper, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture and Vice Chair for the National Gypsy Moth Management Board Executive Committee.

2012 - Mike and Al Schiffer receiving awards Award presentation for Mike and Al Schiffer

Mike and Al Schiffer, During the 2012 Annual Gypsy Moth Review held in Portland OR, Matt Andresen recognizes Al and Mike with the Lifetime Contribution Award for technology development, outreach and coordination through groups such as National Agricultural Aviation Association and Aerial Application Safety Council and, especially, advances in safety and efficiency benefitting federal and state partners and all applicators involved with lymantria dispar dispar spray projects.

Workshops & Meeting Notices

Aerial Survey Working Group Meeting


Date and Location: TBD

ASWG Chair: Jeff Mai jeff.mai@usda.gov

Pinch-Hitter Flight Training


USFS and Commercial Opportunities are Available
Date and Location: TBD

Aviation Safety Training


AERIAL SURVEY AVIATION SAFETY & MANAGEMENT COURSE (AS2M):

Date and Location: TBD

Contact: Jeff Mai jeff.mai@usda.gov

Aerial Survey Pre-season Workshops


Date and Location: TBD

Aerial Application-Related Meetings and Conferences


GYPSY MOTH PROGRAM MANAGERS and SLOW the SPREAD MEETING

Date and Location: TBD

ANNUAL GYPSY MOTH REVIEW

VIRTUAL AGMR -- OCTOBER 26 - 28, 2021

More Info

Digital Mobile Sketchmapping (DMSM)


DMSM Documents and Tutorial