Four Forest Service employees received awards at the 24th Annual Women of Color STEM Conference, held last week in Detroit, Michigan. This national conference recognizes the outstanding achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math fields by offering a forum for women to share ideas and knowledge, network, gain training and inspire the next generation in STEM.
The peer reviewed awards are reviewed by a panel of leaders from industry, government and academia, making it a highly competitive process. The recipients of these awards are senior level individuals who drive the standard for excellence in their organization. Two Forest Service women were recognized for their achievements and received the peer reviewed awards:
I personally had the honor to present the awards to Leslie Weldon and Tina Terrell and I could not have been more proud. Not only is diversity a core value at the Forest Service, but it’s a personal value of mine as well. Welcoming all voices and diverse perspectives into the conversation and creating an environment where everyone feels cared for, treated equitably and valued makes us stronger as an agency. Strengthening diversity helps the Forest Service create a stronger connection both within our workforce and between the agency and the communities we serve.
Two Forest Service women also received non-peer-review category awards. These are given to accomplished women of color from mid-level to advanced stages of their careers who have demonstrated excellence in the workplace and in their communities. Both of the Forest Service awardees received Technology All-Stars Awards:
I also want to take a moment to recognize Research and Development’s Senior Staff Assistant, Linda Jones, without whom this would not be possible. Linda spearheaded this project and has led our participation in this event for the past 5 years. She has done a dynamic job in making sure Forest Service women are recognized for their achievements along with providing visibility for the agency.
It was incredible to hear the inspirational stories from all the participants at the conference. Every story showed just how much these women have done to overcome diversity. The work they do and the barriers they have had to overcome are an inspiration to both women and men both at our agency and beyond. Experiences like this one highlight why we, as an agency, have to remain committed to maintaining an inclusive workplace. I encourage others to support these events and I hope we can continue to take part in this and other similar events.
Although barriers to diversity still exist, these four amazing women serve as example to overcoming those barriers. It is an opportunity for us to see the great contribution a diverse workforce can have on the agency, learn to appreciate the contributions each of us brings to the table and continue strengthening our workforce through diversity.