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21CSC Champion of the Year 2018: Lonnie Pilkington, National Park Service

Lonnie Pilkington
Natural Resource Manager
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, National Park Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award/National Distinction Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2018 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2018 National Conference.

Lonnie Pilkington was born and raised in Texas and graduated with a M.Sc. degree in range ecology from Colorado State University. He started his National Park Service (NPS) career at Rocky Mountain National Park in the exotic plant control and restoration program. In 2011, Lonnie accepted a permanent position with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as the Natural Resources Program Manager. He works on a variety of projects, including exotic plant control, ecological restoration, wildlife surveys, and endangered species monitoring. Lonnie has facilitated numerous partnerships and programs to connect diverse young adults and veterans to the national parks.

Since 2012, his efforts have helped provide learning experiences and service opportunities to over 1,000 young people and veterans, including members of the Navajo Nation, Zuni and Hopi tribes. He has fostered partnerships with several 21CSC organizations, including Arizona Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Utah Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience, and the Student Conservation Association. Through these partnerships, Lonnie has engaged Corpsmembers and other young adults in citizen science projects, wildlife surveys and monitoring, exotic plant control techniques, back country hiking and backpacking experiences, “Leave no Trace” training, cultural resource protection, river running and river safety training, geology, paleontology, and education about general conservation principles.

Lonnie has achieved these remarkable goals through developing innovative funding sources and partnerships. He has secured over $500,000 in funding for youth and young adults programs and developed over 20 partnerships with a wide variety of organizations, including local, state, federal, non-profit and university partners. Lonnie has put Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge National monument “on the map” for many organizations, and has rapidly become a regional leader in funding and supporting a diversity of young adult, veteran and volunteer groups. Many youth program leaders approach Lonnie every year for projects to support their organizations because of his ability to make things happen. Through all these endeavors, Lonnie has developed an excellent safety record and always emphasizes safety-first principles.

“Through his dedication and hard work, Lonnie has greatly enhanced resource programs and partnerships for Glen Canyon and is widely recognized as a leader in the field.” – John Spence, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area