Employees recognized with awards for excellence in interpretation, conservation education

Mike Blakeman & Toby Bloom hold up his plaque for Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education.
Mike Blakeman, National Gifford Pinchot “Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education” Award winner, with Toby Bloom, national program manager for Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation. Photo courtesy Nancy Mayberry, Army Corps of Engineers.

WASHINGTON, DC—The Gifford Pinchot Awards for Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education recognize accomplishments in developing and delivering interpretive and educational programs. The national and regional recipients of this award do work that engages the American people and visitors from around the world through world-class visitor services. Their work strengthens the essential partnerships that solve resources issues. Perhaps most importantly, they help grow the next generation of public lands stewards.

Acting Deputy Chief for the National Forest System, Chris French, said “I am proud of their outstanding work and creativity that helps the Forest Service care for the land and serve people.”

Recipients were honored at an awards ceremony in Denver during the National Association for Interpretation’s Annual Conference Nov. 29, 2018.

The recipients are:

Region 2: Mike Blakeman, for his 40-year career in conservation education and interpretation on the Rio Grande National Forest, educating the public in conservation practices. Blakeman was also was selected as the National Gifford Pinchot “Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education” Award winner.

Region 3: Daryl Ratajczak, for creating the innovative program called Student Wildlands Adventure Program, taking underprivileged natural resource students on outdoor classroom experiences.

Region 4: Stacie Bender, for engaging students by sharing information about her career and work. Bender focuses on improving career scientist opportunities for women.

Region 6: Brenna White, for her actions to dramatically expand the Forest Service partnership with the Oregon Zoo. White rebuilt the conservation education program in the Pacific Northwest Region.

Region 8: Jeff Owenby, for serving as the Cradle of Forestry Director for 11 years, building and supporting innovative partnerships encouraging stewardship of special places across the country.

Region 9: Steve Robertsen, for his focus on customer service and ability to make topics interesting, entertaining, and sharing the important work of the Superior National Forest in a variety of ways.

Region 10: Joni Johnson, for incorporating public outreach and youth engagement in every aspect of her work as the district botanist and ecologist on the Tongass National Forest.

Research and Development: Joanne Rebbeck, for her innovative ways to make Forest Service Research relevant and useful for all Americans. She has reached 8,840 students, educators and others since 2005.

Award recipients holding their plaques.
Recipients of the Gifford Pinchot Awards for Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education were announced by Toby Bloom, national program manager for Travel, Tourism, & Recreation, at the National Association for Interpretation’s annual conference Nov. 29, 2018. Photo courtesy Nancy Mayberry, Army Corps of Engineers.