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21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Greg Sanders, USDA Forest Service

Greg Sanders
Job Corps and Veterans Fire Programs Workforce Program Manager

USDA Forest Service

The 21CSC Champion of the Year Award is presented on an annual basis to dedicated individuals from organizations and federal agencies that partner with 21CSC programs. The 2019 honorees will be recognized in Washington, DC during the annual meeting of the partnership for the 21CSC, part of The Corps Network 2019 National Conference.

Read a Q&A with Greg Sanders – Click here


Greg Sanders earned his undergraduate degree in Forest Management from Oregon State University. He started his career in wildland fire on an engine crew on the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, where he worked for seven fire seasons. He then moved to Tennessee to attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he received his M.S. in Forestry. Beginning in 1988, he spent five years in a fire management position with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. He then moved to Virginia, where he eventually became Fire Management Chief for the Virginia Department of Forestry.

In 1998, Sanders was hired by the U.S. Forest Service as the first Center Manager for the Virginia Interagency Coordination Center in Charlottesville. In March 2003, he was hired as the Forest Fire Management Officer for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, where he worked until moving into his current position.

In his current role, Sanders has been integral to the development and implementation of the Veteran Fire Corps programming operated nationwide by a variety of 21CSC member organizations, including Conservation Legacy, California Conservation Corps, Student Conservation Association, Mt. Adams Institute and Montana Conservation Corps. With Sanders’ support, the Veterans Fire Corps program expanded across the country and has continued to develop and grow.

Sanders champions and leads the efforts nationwide to engage veterans in fire programs and has worked to increase opportunities for alumni from these programs to successfully obtain jobs in wildland fire. He has convened federal and Corps partners to discuss best practices and opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, he developed a system to collect critical program data that demonstrates the success and impact of Veterans Fire Corps programs.

“[Greg’s] commitment to ensuring that all veterans who are interested in a job in wildland fire post-program is explicit and his investment here has benefited veterans across the country,” said Amy Sovocool, Chief External Affairs Officer for Conservation Legacy, a member organization of the 21CSC.

With a commitment to the community, Sanders shares and broadcasts hiring employment opportunities for alums and continues to work with the Forest Service to develop better connections for veterans and young people interested in post-program employment.