Category Archives: Awards

Future biologists awarded Forest Service -sponsored Skanner Foundation scholarships

Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa, 2nd from left, poses with the USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region's Skanner Foundation scholarship recipients Ganiyat Karimu, center, and Nikki Nguyen, second from left, and De La Salle North Catholic High School officials following a reception at the agency's regional office March 13, 2019 in Portland, Ore. USDA Forest Service photo by Scott Batchelder.

PORTLAND, Ore. – March 27, 2019 – A pair of future biologists are the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s selectees for 2019 Skanner Foundation scholarships.

Nikki Nguyen and Ganiyat Karimu, both seniors at De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland, Ore., were recognized March 13 during a reception at the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, also in Portland, where the agency’s regional office is based.

Nguyen has a 4.0 grade point average, and is an active volunteer in her community.

“I do a lot with people,” she said. “One of the things I do is volunteer at a soup kitchen, where I serve meals for homeless people. I also volunteer at a church where every Friday night, they do a dinner for vulnerable women, (and) distribute hygiene products.”

She also works part-time at an OB-GYN clinic as part of a school-sponsored internship.

Nguyen has been accepted at Oregon State University, and said she plans to study biology and is considering a career in medicine, where she can explore how people interact with their environment and the impact of those interactions on their health.

She credits her mom for inspiring her interest in science.

“When she was younger she wanted to be a nurse and was always talking to me about how interested she was in biology and chemistry,” Nguyen said. “But I was also interested for my own sake, because I was very interested in living things, whether it was bacteria, or plants and animals.”

Karimu currently maintains a 3.94 grade point average, and has been accepted to Charles R. Drew University.

She’s also an active volunteer, and recently completed her second summer in a three-year internship at the Oregon Zoo, where she has worked in support of conservation education programs.

Last year, that work included mentoring youth from under-served communities, and leading overnight camping trips in the Columbia River Gorge and nearby state parks for the zoo’s UNO (Urban Nature Overnights) program.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t really interested in the forest,” she said. I was a city girl. The city trees were enough for me. Going out in the woods, with no electricity, wasn’t really my idea of relaxing. Volunteering with the zoo has changed that for me – I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone, a huge distance. (But) being at places like Eagle Creek, it showed me the peace (to be found) in nature,” she said.

Karimu and Nguyen both said they plan to study biology in college, and that they are trying to keep their options open, but have a strong interest in medicine and public health.

“I’m a question asker. I ask many questions. I know that I want to know the ‘why’ to everything. That pulls me to science, and what pulls me to biology is you can see the ‘why,’” Karimu said. “You can see it in the animal’s adaptation, for example.”

The Skanner Foundation partners with organizations throughout region to recognize high-potential students in Pacific Northwest region, and presents scholarships during the foundation’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Portland, Ore.

The USDA Forest Service is the foundation’s first federal partner, and sponsored two $1500 scholarships in both the 2018 and 2019 awards years.

Because the 2019 breakfast took place during the federal government shutdown, the Forest Service was unable to provide a representative at this year’s breakfast to present Karimu and Nguyen with their awards.

During the March 13 reception, Regional Forester, Glenn Casamassa said he wanted to ensure the students understood how much the agency values them, and values its investment in their future.

For more information about the Skanner Foundation and the foundation’s scholarship program, visit and use the links listed under the “Foundation” tab.

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff report.

Umpqua NF employee is agency’s Federal Engineer of the Year honoree

close up of Steve Marchi, an engineer assigned to the Umpqua National Forest, USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region

ROSEBURG, Ore. – February 27, 2018 – The Federal Engineer of the Year Award, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Professional Engineers in Government, honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide.

Steve Marchi, USDA Forest Service, Umpqua National Forest engineer, was recognized as the UForest Service’s agency winner during the 2018 Federal Engineer of the Year Award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2018.

As an agency winner, he, along with 30 other esteemed engineers nationwide, was a finalist for the Federal Engineer of the Year.

Steve Marchi stands next to a banner for the Federal Engineer of the Year awards

Steve Marchi, and engineer assigned to the Umpqua National Forest, USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, was an agency-level honoree at the Federal Engineer of the Year 2018 awards ceremony. Agency honorees are also finalists for the Federal Engineer of the Year award, presented annually by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Courtesy photo.

Typically, the honor is reserved for a current employee, either civilian or military, who is either a licensed professional engineer or engineer in training and who works at a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide.

“I nominated Steve for his many professional achievements and organizational engagement as well as his continued attention to learning,” said Emilee Blount, Director of Engineering, Technology and Geospatial Services for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C.

Blount served as keynote speaker for the ceremony.

Marchi previously received another national award in 2017 in recognition of his outstanding work in integrating different work areas and projects both inside and outside of the Forest Service.

Marchi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from University of Idaho (1997) and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Ohio. He began his career with the U.S. Forest Service in 1993 on the Payette National Forest in Idaho. Marchi began working on the Umpqua National Forest in 2011 after working 10 years on the Wayne National Forest in southeast Ohio.

By Cheryl Caplan, Umpqua National Forest

West Bend Project receives USFS top honor

Bend, Ore.  The West Bend Vegetation Management Project has received the 2017 Forest Service’s Chief’s Honor Award, the highest award given by the Forest Service.

The Chief’s Honor Award publicly recognizes outstanding accomplishments that contribute to the Forest Service’s strategic goals. The prestigious honor was given to the West Bend Project in the category of “Sustaining Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands” for the ambitious 26,000 acre restoration project immediately adjacent to the City of Bend.

Historically in Central Oregon, small wildfires or insect infestations created a forest of different-aged trees, underbrush, and openings or clearings, allowing a diversity of wildlife and plants to flourish and kept forests resilient to large scale disturbances.

The West Bend Vegetation Management Project prescribes vegetation treatments across approximately 26,000 acres of the Deschutes National Forest to restore a healthy forest landscape consistent with the region’s historical norm.

“The Deschutes National Forest worked directly with the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project (DCFP), a group of 19 volunteer community stakeholders representing interests from environment to industry, to undertake a very ambitious project in an area where people love to recreate,” Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon said. “To have the forest step in and acknowledge the need to take care of this area so folks can continue having these experiences and then get the support to do the work…that is a pretty amazing accomplishment. The DCFP working with the Deschutes National Forest is truly an example of shared leadership.”

Kevin Larkin, District Ranger on the Bend-Fort Rock District of the Deschutes National Forest, accepted the award at a ceremony in Washington D.C. Dec. 7. He was joined by Pete Caligiuri, a Forest Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy, who attended on behalf of the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project.

“This project could not have happened were it not for the Deschutes Collaborative that worked hand-in-hand, as an equal partner, with us to make this project a success,” Larkin said. “The Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project team hosted meetings, field trips, presentations and conducted a vast awareness campaign to get buy-in for this project while the employees of the Deschutes National Forest put in literally thousands of hours planning, and now, implementation. This is a true demonstration of how well we can do when we build community support for restoration and how that allows us to increase the pace and scale of restoration in the future.”

The West Bend Vegetation Management Project’s goal is to restore a more resilient and healthy forest.  For additional information go to

Courtesy photo: Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project

In the news: Researcher recognized for moss study

Portland, Ore. – GovLoop, a government news and information website, is sharing the stories of finalists for this year’s SAMMIES (Samuel J. Haven Service to America Medals), including the USDA Forest Service’s Sarah Jovan, who, with fellow researcher Geoffrey H. Donovan, is recognized for the Portland, Ore. “moss study.”

Initially intended to determine if moss could be used to estimate air pollution in cities, the $100,000 study revealed that moss can also serve as a beacon for pollution by cancer-causing heavy metals, providing detailed, neighborhood-level data that might have otherwise required $17 million worth of air monitoring equipment to collect.

The work led directly to remediation for cadmium and arsenic contamination outside two Portland, Ore. glass factories and to tighter controls across the industry, improving lives for many at risk of exposure to these contaminants.

Read more:

More info about the SAMMIES:,+.winner.y2017