Regional Tribal Relations Program Manager Presented with Distinguished Service Award
March 20, 2012, Denver, Colo. – The Veterans Green Jobs board of directors has presented its first Distinguished Service Award to Susan Johnson, regional tribal relations program manager for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. Johnson has ties to Veterans Green Jobs that pre-date the organization’s founding in 2008, and is responsible for helping form the vision of Veterans Green Jobs, which helps put military veterans to work in the sustainability sector.
Dr. Mit Parsons, chairman of the board and co-founder of Veterans Green Jobs, said to Johnson as he presented her with the award, “You have become the face of Veterans Green Jobs within the U.S. Forest Service, and our most ardent supporter. It is very fitting that you should be our first recipient because Veterans Green Jobs’ beginning and history are tied to you personally.”
Johnson’s early involvement with Veterans Green Jobs began with the introduction of Parsons and Brett KenCairn, co-founder who went on to become CEO, and whose vision it was to start a nonprofit organization to help returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. That meeting was followed by a gathering which Johnson hosted at the U.S. Forest Service offices, attended by Forest Service personnel from the disciplines of fire, recreation, forest health, personnel and civil rights along with the Veteran’s Administration, state public health department, other nonprofits and education institutes. The purpose of this meeting was to gauge the interest in and validate the concept of developing a veteran-oriented organization dedicated to assisting military veterans in the successful reintegration back into civilian life and to guide them toward fulfilling careers in a variety of environmental job sectors.
Veterans Green Jobs officially launched on February 4, 2009. Soon after, Johnson helped define and launch the Veterans Green Corps program with an early partnership with Southwest Conservation Corps of Durango. The program would become the nonprofit’s first training initiative, focused on providing training, skills development and certification to veterans in order to prepare them for jobs in natural resources and conservation.
“It was Susan’s leadership within the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region that led to the first grant of $1 million being awarded to Veterans Green Jobs and the Southwest Conservation Corps,” said Parsons.
In 2009, the Southwest Conservation Corps began operating Veterans Green Corps crews in parts of Colorado. Since that time, the program has expanded throughout eight western states to include crews and partnerships with other corps – including Nevada Conservation Corps, Utah Conservation Corps, California Conservation Corps, Montana Conservation Corps and Student Conservation Association. The successes of Veterans Green Corps led the organization to launch the Veterans Fire Corps in 2011. This initiative provides comprehensive training and experience for veterans in wildland firefighting. Again, Johnson was instrumental in helping Veterans Green Jobs receive the financial assistance to launch this program.
Total federal investments to date for Veterans Green Corps and Veterans Fire Corps (including for crews scheduled in 2012 and 2013) is $5 million, including approximately $4 million from the U.S. Forest Service, $900,000 from the Bureau of Land Management and $100,000 from the National Park Service.
In addition to Johnson’s professional affiliation with the U.S. Forest Service, she is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota.
About Veterans Green Jobs
Veterans Green Jobs is a national nonprofit whose mission is to engage, transition and connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environment. With programs in eight states, Veterans Green Jobs offers training and hands-on experience, directly employs veterans, offers entrepreneurial opportunities and offers a national job placement model. See www.veteransgreenjobs.org for information.
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