It is your week as employees of the USDA Forest Service, dedicated to careers in public service. It is no secret why one of our agency core values is service. Whether you have been a public servant for 3 months or 30 years, I will be the first one to acknowledge the work you do is invaluable and indispensable. From fighting wildfires; to keeping our fellow men and women safe; to actively managing our national forest and grasslands for health and rural prosperity; to furthering research and development; to educating and empowering the next generation of forest conservationists and stewards, each and every one of you does this on a daily basis, with a passion and devotion that are the hallmarks of a dedicated workforce.
Our jobs in the Forest Service are complex, involving many moving parts across many agencies and offices, most of the time across county and state lines. This is the everyday reality of what we do. And to any outside person looking in, our work may seem seamless. But we know the truth. It is only through your continued work and dedication, your daily sacrifices and your commitment to sustain our national forests and grasslands that everything runs as smoothly as it does. And for that I thank you!
The American people also thank you. They value our service and our dedication. They are grateful for the work we do in communities throughout the country. Again and again, as I travel throughout the country, I hear stories about how much the work the Forest Service does means to people, and that is all thanks to you.
As a nation, we have celebrated Public Service Recognition Week since 1985. It is an opportunity for all Americans to show their appreciation for their federal, state, county and local employees.
There are always bumps in the road along the way. We are working hard, together, to confront those obstacles. But I am confident we are doing better. We continue to work hard at ensuring all of us are living up to our core values of service, conservation, interdependence, diversity and safety. I believe we will achieve the work environment we all deserve because I believe in all of you.
As we recognize those who are currently working as public servants, I want to acknowledge those we have lost as well. Most recently, we lost Daniel Laird in the line of duty.
Next week is National Police Week. It is a time where we show our appreciation to those officers who continue to faithfully protect and serve our great nation. Additionally, I would also encourage everyone to spend a bit of time remembering all law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Throughout my time in this agency, I have met countless individuals who love their jobs and who are passionate about sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands. It is through your work that we can continue to achieve our mission. It is through your work that we can continue to do the greatest good. We are responsible for 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. From rangers at the forests to the brave men and women fighting wildfires to the individuals doing ground-breaking work at our research stations and those performing vital business operations—every one of these individuals is working in a concerted effort to sustain that land, to live our mission and demonstrate This Is Who We Are.
Finally, I want to extend a special recognition to this year’s winners of the Organization of Professional Employees of Department of Agriculture Unsung Hero Awards. For the individual awards, I want to recognize Antoinette Davis, Lake George Ranger Station in Silver Springs, Florida; Gerald Bauer, International Tropical Forestry Institute; Kimberly Baca, Region 3; David Spliethof, Region 5; Sharon Wallace, Region 8; Chris Peterson, Region 9; Rob Heavirland, Region 9; and Marion Glaser, Region 10. For the team awards, I’d like to recognize Patrick Legg and Nicholas J. Scholz, Law Enforcement & Investigation, Region 2; and, Doug Chabot , Eric Knoff and Alex Marienthal, Custer-Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. All of these folks are prime examples of the great service and recognition we as the Forest Service provide. Stay tuned to Inside the Forest Service for a full article about how their work impacted the public in some very positive ways.
Please accept my heartfelt thanks to you all, not just from me, but from our entire leadership team and on behalf of the citizens of this great nation!
Click ahead for more photos from the 2019 Unsung Heroes award ceremony.