WASHINGTON, DC—Each year since 1985, in conjunction with Public Service Professional Recognition week, USDA has recognized the dedication and service of employees through the Unsung Hero Awards Program. This program honors USDA employees who have consistently provided exceptional service to the American public and commitment to fulfilling the mission of “The People’s Department.”
The following Forest Service employees were selected as USDA’s 2018 Unsung Heroes and recognized May 10 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Pete Angwin, plant pathologist, State and Private Forestry, Redding, California
Angwin led an effort to develop hazard tree guidelines for California. He also developed an education program to teach hundreds of foresters how to recognize hazard trees. This effort has saved millions of dollars and prevented many accidents and loss of lives.
William “Clarence” Ferguson, recreation supervisor, Trapper Creek Job Corps, Darby, Montana
Ferguson has served more than 40 years with the Forest Service, primarily with Trapper Creek Job Corps Center. He graduated from the Job Corps program before coming to work for the agency. He has dedicated his life to developing and managing an imaginative and well-received recreation program that has helped thousands of young people become successful.
Peter Harris, Monterey Division Chief, Los Padres National Forest, California
While returning from a fire response Dec. 11, 2017, Harris was shot several times. With 12 pellets lodged in his head and neck, he called for a medevac aircraft, but he recognized that oncoming traffic was headed toward the shooter. Harris heroically remained in place to warn others heading toward the shooter to stop and turn around, thus preventing many others from being put at risk until law enforcement reached his remote location in the Los Padres National Forest.
Tawny Myers, Patrol Captain, Law Enforcement and Investigations, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Ogden, Utah
For exercising professionalism and bravery in successfully negotiating, over a long period of time by phone, and then face to face, the surrender of an armed, erratic man who repeatedly threatened to shoot anyone in the Doc’s Flat Camp Area of the forest.
Region 5, Operations Southern California—Geographic Area Coordination Center and Logistics Supply Cache
From Oct. 1, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2017, there were 608 Forest Service fires and more than 4,000 additional forest fires in southern California that required interagency support. The GACC mobilized and coordinated extensive crew assignments, as well as aviation and ground equipment resources during multiple simultaneous severe fire situations. The LSC performed continuously above and beyond their regular duties, sending out an estimated $14.8 million worth of equipment and supplies in support of the Fire & Aviation Management program needs throughout the region.
Amanda Uowolo, ecologist, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Hilo, Hawaii
After Typhoon Maysak hit the already drought-stricken Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau, Uowolo initiated Project Melai Mai, which means “planting gardens of breadfruit.” She facilitated the import of selected breadfruit varieties that have since flourished due to the training she provided in propagation methods and care instructions.