21CSC Champion of the Year 2019: Jennifer Wheeler, Bureau of Land Management

Jennifer Wheeler
Arcata Field Office
Bureau of Land Management

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 Jennifer Wheeler – Click here

Jennifer Wheeler studied Game Ranching and Wildlife Management in East Africa with the School for Field Studies and received her Associate of Science Degree from Cabrillo College. Following that, she attended Humboldt State University to study Range Management and Botany. While studying, she began working for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Lakeview, CA. In 1993, Wheeler earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Rangeland Resource Science with a minor in Botany.

In her role with the BLM, Wheeler has worked with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) for over two decades, facilitating life-changing service experiences for rural and urban youth from almost every social and economic demographic within the state of California. She is a champion of Corpsmembers, helping thousands of CCC participants learn about science, nature, strong work ethic, how to communicate properly, how to push yourself through adversity, and most of all, how to be a better citizen and steward of the environment.

For years, Wheeler has been mentoring CCC members and college graduates through BLM’s cooperative agreement with the Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation Land Management (CLM) internship program. She has provided training and practical experience in the fields of botany, range management, as well as land-use planning, NEPA and ESA regulatory compliance, GIS, and GPS.

Notably, Wheeler has worked with the CCC since 1994 on the recovery of coastal dunes and grasslands that provide important habitat for endemic plants, pollinators, and shorebirds. Over the years, these restoration efforts have engaged more than 10,000 CCC members and volunteers. Thanks to this work, a 2012 status review recommended the down-listing of the beach laiya – a coastal flowering plant – from endangered to threatened. She also worked with CCC members and other partners on eradicating over two dozen non-native species on over 200,000 acres of public land in northwestern California using manual regimes instead of herbicides.

“It is rare that one person helps provide so much for so many,” said Larry Notheis, Deputy Director of the CCC. “The education and opportunity for such a diverse set of young adults only happens when someone thinks more about others than themselves.”