21CSC National Distinction Awardee: Betsy Wooster, Bureau of Land Management

Betsy Wooster
[Retired] National Youth Program Lead
Bureau of Land Management

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.

Betsy Wooster joined the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2001 after working as an education specialist for The National Geographic Society and National Wildlife Federation. Betsy took BLM’s youth program from it’s infancy to a fully developed program with consistent implementation across the agency. Under Betsy’s leadership, BLM partnered with more than 30 21CSC organizations to provide work and training opportunities for nearly 2,200 young people in 2016 alone.

Betsy identified ways to engage young people in addressing BLM resource priorities, creating innovative programs and materials to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of BLM youth programs. For example, she created a national network of BLM youth coordinators and supported them through the complex tasks associated with federal employment rules and creating successful partnerships. Additionally, she was instrumental in developing partnerships with organizations such as the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, which allowed the BLM to leverage $2 million in non-federal funds to support conservation projects engaging young adults. Thanks to Betsy’s coordination, BLM’s youth hiring program is well-established, employing nearly 4,500 young people each year.

One outcome of Betsy’s dedication is that BLM leadership is now more aware of some of the opportunities related to young adults programs and working with Corps. Youth and young adult programming has become part of the BLM’s institutional portfolio, transcending administrations and weathering budget challenges. Through student internships and partnerships with Corps and other diverse organizations, the BLM is now a leader in developing a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

[Congratulations to Betsy on her retirement from the BLM at the end of 2017!]

“Thousands of young people working today in conservation and land stewardship unknowingly owe their careers to Betsy’s persistent, patient, thorough, gentle-but-you-know-she-means-it efforts in Washington, DC to spearhead and institutionalize youth program partnerships in the Bureau of Land Management.” – Janet Ady, BLM (Education, Interpretation, & Partnerships)