By: The Working Forest Staff
Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, ON—The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) has announced that USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen is the winner of the 2021 SFI President’s Award. The award is given to an individual or an organization that leads the forest community on important issues related to sustainability, education, and collaboration.
Christiansen is being recognized by SFI for her longstanding leadership on myriad issues critical to the future of the forest sector including building a diverse workforce, educating youth, and enhancing biodiversity.
“I value Vicki’s thoughtful approach to tackling the biggest conservation and community issues that our sector faces,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. “She is truly an enthusiastic partner, and this award recognizes her efforts to advance better choices for our planet and people—the theme of this year’s SFI conference.”
“Thank you. I’m so very honored to represent the work we at the USDA Forest Service do with partners to awaken and strengthen all people’s connection to the land,“ said Chief Christiansen. “And, with the support of our partners like SFI, we are reaching broader audiences to create a culture of inclusion and build a diverse workforce that truly reflects the face of America.”
Building a diverse workforce—Christiansen is an important longstanding voice on diversity, equity and inclusion, and workforce development in the forest sector. Christiansen and her team have supported SFI and Project Learning Tree, SFI’s signature education program, in multiple ways. In 2019, the U.S. Forest Service provided support for the Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers educator guide, and more recently is supporting a new African American Voices in the Forest and Conservation Sector Career Guide, in partnership with SFI and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), an organization that supports diversity in natural resources careers. Under the Chief’s leadership, a diverse workforce is a priority within the U.S. Forest Service and among its partners.
Educating youth—In addition to supporting a strong conservation education program at the USFS, under Christiansen’s leadership, the USFS has leveraged the power of collaboration to invest in diverse, partner programming. USFS support for Project Learning Tree helps provide critical environmental education resources. For example, the USFS has provided financial resources and staff expertise to many PLT projects including the Forest Literacy Framework and Nature Based Activities for Families. These resources help PLT achieve its goal to advance environmental literacy, stewardship, and career pathways using trees and forests as windows on the world.
Enhancing biodiversity—As Chief, Christiansen oversees innovative U.S. Forest Service research and programs that provide forest managers and decision-makers with the tools and knowledge to help protect, enhance, and restore fish and wildlife habitats and minimize the effects of disturbances such as fire, urbanization, disease, and climate change.
Christiansen joins a distinguished group of people and organizations to win the SFI President Award— including the Yakama Nation in 2019, Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry in 2018, Craig Blair, President and CEO, Resource Management Service (RMS) LLC in 2017, and the American Bird Conservancy in 2016.