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Utah State Office
Release Date: 05/30/14
Contacts: Sherry Foot , 801-539-4195  

BLM-Utah Employee Receives the Bureau of Land Managements
2014 Making a Difference National Volunteer Award

 Salt Lake City, Utah—The Making a Difference Award is an annual honor presented by the BLM to recognize the Bureau’s most exceptional volunteers, whose efforts include trail repair, visitor services, habitat restoration, and many other duties. The award was presented to recipients at a recognition event via a live video conference hosted at the BLM headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The event included remarks from Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior; Neil Kornze, Director of the BLM; Janice Schneider, Assistant Secretary for Land and Mineral Management; and Chris McAlear, Deputy Assistant Director with BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships.

Rob Sweeten, Landscape Architect with the BLM-Utah State Office in Salt Lake City was selected as the national BLM employee award recipient. Since 2009, Rob has mentored six students. Almost every one of these student interns began as BLM volunteers. Rob worked to convert these students to Student Temporary Employment Program status or to a conservation corps intern with the American Conservation Experience youth organization.   The students worked exclusively with Rob by assisting with visual inventory work for the Kanab, Monticello, Richfield, and Cedar City Field Offices and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  

Under Rob’s supervision, they entered all the field data into the new, national GIS database which included digitizing map data and the creating of visibility analyses. By using student volunteers rather than paying a contractor, the BLM realized a savings of $100,000 on one project alone. Rob’s reputation for providing excellent training and skills is widely recognized in the private sector as well. Two of his students were even offered full-time positions with private industry before their internships with the BLM were completed. 

State Director Juan Palma, praised Rob for making it a personal goal to provide positive experiences to his student volunteers because he began his career with the BLM-Utah State Office as a student intern while he attended Utah State University. 

Rob spends many hours strengthening the BLM-Utah partnership with Utah State University by speaking at classes and meeting with professors to explain the BLM’s mission and role, as well as the opportunities available to students. 

“Rob embodies the best qualities of a volunteer supervisor, mentor, coach and leader,” said state director Palma. “He truly continues to make a difference and is well-deserving of recognition for his on-going efforts within BLM Utah.”

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The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

Utah State Office   440 West 200 South Ste 500      Salt Lake City, UT 84101  

Last updated: 06-02-2014