Utah State University-Uintah Basin professor Becky Williams, and Rich Etchberger, USU vice provost of regional campuses and former USU-Uintah Basin wildlife science professor, were recognized by the U.S. Forest Service with the 2018 Regional Forest Award for their work in the Uintah Youth Conservation Corps.
“It’s an honor to receive this award, and have our local organization recognized for the work we are doing to ensure our students get working experience in National Forests and Grasslands,” said Williams. “It is vital that we create opportunities for our students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in real-world settings.”
The Regional Forester Award was given to 13 individuals and groups for making a difference in Intermountain Region National Forests and Grasslands. Currently, Williams is ensuring the Uintah Youth Conservation Corps is running successfully and has helped many students go through the program. USU-Uintah Basin students are able to get hands-on experiences in Ashley National Forest while working on projects that benefit the forest and its ecosystems.
According to Etchberger, this organization has made it much easier for students to access field work experience because of its partnerships. “The success of the Uintah Youth Conservation Corps is the collaboration of the Uintah Impact Mitigation Special Service District, USU-Uintah Basin scholarships, and direction provided by Ashley National Forest employees. We’re lucky to work with such great individuals with the common goal of improving these outdoor spaces. Becky is doing a great job pushing this program forward and getting our students involved.”
Since its creation 11 years ago, 97 students have participated in the Uintah Youth Conservation Corps, resulting in over $980,600 of conservation and improvements to the National Forest. Williams acts as a mentor to many of these students, helping them through the program and empowering them to have positive experiences.
From support in providing funding, student mentoring and teaching, organization and supervision of daily activities, and planning meaningful work opportunities, the collaboration of each of these organizations have exhibited exemplary contributions leading to the high level of accomplishments made. Each year, the Uintah Youth Conservation Corps receives more support and more students enter the program. The bulk of this year’s efforts have been made possible for the great work Williams has made, and continues to do.