National conservation group names Glen Canyon staff member as Champion of the Year

Lonnie Pilkington (center) receives the Champion of the Year Award from 21st Century Conservation Service Corps co-chair Amy Sovocool (left) and president and CEO of the Corps Network, Mary Ellen Sprenkel (right). Undated | Photo courtesy National Park Service, St. George News

PAGE, Ariz. — Glen Canyon National Recreation Area’s Lonnie Pilkington has been named Champion of the Year by the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

Lonnie Pilkington, undated | Photo courtesy National Park Service, St. George News

Pilkington received the award recently at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was keynote speaker to the annual gathering of national, state and local leaders in the youth development and conservation fields.

The corps is a national initiative to engage more young adults and veterans in work and service on America’s public lands. More than 220 organizations across the country provide opportunities for young people to serve and work outdoors.

The Champion of the Year Award recognizes national and regional leaders who have gone above and beyond to partner with member organizations of the corps and support the training of the next generation of conservation professionals, community leaders and outdoor recreationists.

Nominees included people from across the country who work at federal, state and local agencies and various nonprofits that help engage young people in outdoor service and stewardship. Pilkington was chosen from among 17 finalists nationwide.

“We are proud of Lonnie’s many achievements in engaging young people, veterans and Native Americans,” Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Superintendent William Shott said. “The future of public land stewardship is being passed into capable hands with help from Lonnie’s leadership, hard work and many accomplishments.”

Since beginning at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in 2010 as the natural resources program manager, Pilkington 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 corps organizations, including the Arizona Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Utah Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience and the Student Conservation Association.

Through these partnerships, Pilkington has engaged corps members and other young adults in citizen science projects, wildlife surveys and monitoring, invasive non-native plant control efforts, backcountry 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.

Pilkington has achieved these 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, nonprofit and university partners.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Rainbow Bridge National Monument has been put “on the map” by Pilkington 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 Pilkington every year for projects to support their organizations because of his ability to make things happen.

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