Wednesday, March 4, 2015
This year “21 CSC Champion of the Year,” which is regarded as the most prestigious award in forest maintenance work, was won by Michelle Mitchell, a regional program leader for volunteer and service at Forest Service in the U.S for her outstanding contributions in connecting people to the land on February 10 at The Corps Network’s annual national conference.
Michelle Mitchell was selected along with Peter Mueller, a project director in southwest Colorado for The Nature Conservancy, and Jennifer Schneider, a National Park Service maintenance worker and youth coordinator at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana for tirelessly creating and enhancing programs that engage diverse groups of young people and veterans in conservation activities on America’s public lands.
The conference was attended by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary Robert Bonnie and Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon. It also included a cadre of national, state, and local leaders in the youth development, community service, and environment fields.
“I’m excited to see one of our top performers in the Forest Service recognized for her exceptional contributions to such important partnerships in conservation,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Michelle and the rest of the nominees have exemplified the spirit of public service and have left positive impacts on the lives of others and on public lands.” He added.
In the past fiscal year, Mitchell helped manage approximately 127 Youth Conservation Corps participants across 13 states and Puerto Rico. She also cultivated relationships with 21CSC program operators including the Student Conservation Association, Southeast Conservation Corps, Community Training Works, Inc., Young American Conservation Corps, Greening Youth Foundation, Mt. Adams Institute, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Texas Conservation Corps. In the past year, she has served as a personal mentor for 13 young people working in the region, helping guide them toward success and future employment possibilities in the conservation field.