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Two BLM-Alaska Volunteers Win “Making a Difference” National Volunteer Awards

The Bureau of Land Management in Alaska was proud to honor two volunteers last week, one as the BLM’s National Lifetime Achievement Award winner and another as the National Youth Volunteer.

Verna Pratt received the 2014 BLM Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award for her work over the last 20 years at Campbell Tract. Over the last two decades, Pratt has provided expert advice on plant species at the facility. She led the first inventory of plants at Campbell Tract in 1993, mentored other volunteers on native plant species.  Most importantly, she was instrumental in turning a newly constructed Campbell Creek Science Center in 1996 from a building surrounded by construction grade soil and fields of weeds into the thriving gardens that exist today to showcase Alaska’s native wildflowers.

Volunteer Mark Kreider was presented with the BLM’s first-ever Making a Difference Youth Award. Mark came to the BLM’s Anchorage District Office as a volunteer through the Mennonite Service Adventure Program in the late summer of 2013, having never been to Alaska. He serves primarily as a maintenance technician with the Anchorage District Facilities Branch, working on a variety of facilities and landscaping projects, in all weather conditions and situations. Serving over 1000 hours of time over the last year, Mark has demonstrated a range of work skills, work ethic, and a sense of responsibility far beyond his years. He taught hundreds of kids how to pan for gold during this year’s Outdoor Week program and was instrumental in helping to prepare for the Iditarod Ceremonial Start at Campbell Tract.

The annual “Making a Difference” Award recognizes exceptional volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours improving the public lands. Their work ranges from trail repairs, providing environmental education and visitor services to monitoring and habitat restoration.    

Kreider and Pratt were among an impressive group of volunteers selected for this year’s award, including:

·       Jupiter Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy (Outstanding Youth), Jupiter Inlet Outstanding Natural Area, Florida;

·       Stan Shaw (Outstanding Achievement), Yuma Field Office, Arizona;

·       Dr. Jack Hailman (Outstanding Achievement), Jupiter Inlet Outstanding Natural Area, Florida;

·       Mark Hesse (Lifetime Achievement—posthumous), Monticello Field Office, Utah;

·       Floyd and Opal Jensen (Lifetime Achievement), Salem District Office, Oregon; and

·       Friends of Pompeys Pillar (Lifetime Achievement), Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Montana.

·       Rob Sweeten, Utah State Office, is the winning BLM employee.

A national panel of BLM specialists and partner representatives selected the award winners from dozens of nominees submitted by BLM state offices. The winners were selected for their exceptional contributions to the conservation and management of public lands.

In Fiscal Year 2013, more than 30,000 volunteers served over 1.15 million hours to the BLM, the equivalent of 641 work years. That represents $26 million worth of service donated to the Bureau, a 22:1 return on investment.

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