Q and A with Lonnie Pilkington: 2018 Champion of the Year

Lonnie Pilkington is the Natural Resource Manager at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Lonnie is a 21CSC Champion of the Year for 2018. This Award recognizes individuals from agencies and organizations that partner with 21CSC programs to help engage the next generation of conservation and community leaders in service, education and training.

The 2018 Champions of the Year will be recognized at the annual Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, happening February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. This event is part of The Corps Network National Conference.

  • Learn more about Lonnie – Click here.
  • Learn more about the 21CSC Champion of the Year Award – Click here.

  1. Tell us about your current role.

    As the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA) and Rainbow Bridge National Monument (RABR) Natural Resources Program Manager, my focus areas are:          invasive non-native plant control, ecological restoration, wildlife surveys, and endangered species monitoring. I am very fortunate to work for a park and a supervisor that encourage me to connect youth to their National Parks through conservation and education activities.

  2. Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in conservation/land and water management?

    From an early age I developed a strong connection with the great outdoors. This connection was enhanced in the early 1990s while working at the YMCA of the Rockies in Northern Colorado. During this time, I spent weekends recreating in Rocky Mountain National Park and began to develop a strong interest in the local flora and a love for public lands.

    In 1999, I was hired into my first position (i.e. Laborer) with the National Park Service (NPS) at Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2000, I began working for the Science and Resource Stewardship Division, where I was introduced to disturbed lands restoration. In the early 2000s I served as a Prescribed Burn Crew Technician for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which sparked an interest in conserving rare species. In the mid-2000s, Colorado State University (CSU) provided me with an opportunity to strengthen my understanding of the environment through conducting habitat restoration research. Through these experiences, I developed a strong interest in habitat conservation efforts and public lands management, which provided a path to where I am today. Along the way, I have been fortunate to work with a number of great supervisors, mentors, and co-workers and for that I am thankful.

  3. Tell us about how you have engaged with Service and Conservation Corps.

    Early in my NPS career, I was fortunate to work alongside youth from Larimer County Conservation Corps, Rocky Mountain Conservancy Conservation Corps, and Colorado Mountain Club Shining Mountains Group.  These partnerships enabled us to             collectively complete critical conservation projects, and personally sparked an interest within me to engage youth and adults in conservation efforts. In 2010, I began working at GLCA and RABR and was encouraged to connect youth to their National Parks through resource stewardship, citizen science, and education. I am fortunate to work at a location where numerous federal and non-federal organizations are interested in partnering to engage youth in conservation work on public lands. Over the past several years multiple Service and Conservation Corps have learned about and contributed to: invasive non-native plant control efforts along the Colorado, San Juan, and Escalante Rivers; native plant restoration efforts along hiking trails at RABR; citizen science based acoustic bat monitoring and bird survey efforts along the Colorado and San Juan Rivers; and aquatic invasive species education and containment.

  4. What advice would you offer to other employees from land/water management agencies and nonprofits that are interested in partnering with 21CSC programs (What to expect, etc.)?

    I encourage land managers to develop and foster partnerships with multiple local, regional, and national organizations that engage youth in conservation efforts.  I also recommend reaching out to your national and regional youth and volunteer program managers. These support staff will assist you in locating 21CSC programs, provide information on federal and non-federal fund sources, and assist with partnership and program development. I encourage land managers to provide Service and Conservation Corps a well-rounded experience that includes service, training, education, and outdoor recreation.

  5. What are the most beneficial aspects of partnering with a 21CSC Program?

    Partnering with 21CSC programs provide numerous benefits and enables partners to collectively connect youth to their public lands through engagement in resource stewardship, citizen science, outdoor recreation, and career development opportunities. These experiences can and will change lives and are integral in cultivating the next generation of NPS Ambassadors.

  6. What advice would you offer to young people in 21CSC programs who are interested in careers in conservation and land/water management?

    I encourage youth to find a discipline they are passionate about and chase their dreams.  Serving in a 21CSC organization is a great way to obtain a wide variety of experiences, acquire valuable training, develop skills, contribute to public lands conservation efforts, and meet the players in your field of interest.  I encourage youth to develop the qualities (i.e. self-starter, team player, strong work ethic) and skills (i.e. communication [oral and written], leadership, education) that catch the eye of managers and potential employers. I urge youth to apply for numerous positions at a variety of locations to ensure they have options. I recommend actively working with your supervisor to seek out training and career advancement opportunities. I advise finding a mentor and working together to develop and carry out a path to permanent employment. Thank you to all the great Service and Conservation Corps that have played an integral role in restoring and protecting our national treasures!