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USFS’s Couch honored with award



— Courtney Couch, Fire Prevention Specialist for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, is the recipient of the 2016 Gifford Pinchot Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Award. Couch was recommended by her peers and formally nominated by Northern Regional Forester Leanne Marten to receive the prestigious national award.

“Courtney goes well beyond her official role as a fire prevention specialist,” said Marten. “Her dedication to surrounding communities, development and delivery of numerous conservation education programs, the partnerships she’s developed and her graphic arts skills have all resulted in an incredibly positive impact to the thousands of people she’s reached in her 15-year career with the Forest Service.”

Following the 2015 fire season that impacted several North-Central Idaho communities, Couch worked with partners to develop “Healing the Land, Healing Ourselves: Exploring the Ecological and Psychological Influences of Fire in Our Communities around the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.” The program focused on offering emotional healing to grade school youth affected by traumatic 2015 fires. This outreach effort also helped students understand the restorative nature of fire.

The 2016 Healing program is the latest integrated, natural resource curriculum Courtney developed and delivered to engage youth and adults in improving their understanding of natural resources and complex forested ecosystems. Couch’s other notable accomplishments include organizing annual weeklong summer youth camps, developing a pollinator garden with local students, co-organizing a five-county fire prevention co-op, bringing the University of Montana Performing Arts to seven area schools, and illustrating books and posters for educators to use as instructional tools.



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