2020-2021 APAEA EC
Arvind Bhuta, Washington Office, State & Private Forestry, Cooperative Forestry
I am interested in seeking the APAEA EC Chair for 2020-2021 if there are no new APAEA members who are seeking the position. I would help to expand our current operations and mission to be more inclusive across Regions and through engagement with the public, especially Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities throughout the US and USDA API organizations, while seeking recruitment and retention among our current FS API employees. I have served on a variety of projects in the working group (2014, 2015) & on the Executive Committee (2016-2017 and 2018-2019). For example: redevelopment of the APAEA website, creation of the Facebook APAEA Community Group Page and APAEA Page for visibility & outreach, and webinar content. I started my career through a demo position with the agency in 2014 at the Pacific Northwest's Regional Office as a Forester (0460 series) where I worked in the regional biometrics program and completed the FS National Middle Leader Program. In 2016, I became the Ecologist (0408 series) for the National Forests in Alabama (NFAL) where I was program manager for the ecology, soil and water, non-native invasive species, and green/sustainability programs, was heavily involved with NFAL's Multicultural Advisory Committee, and completed the Aspiring Leader Program. I am currently the Forest Mapping and Accomplishment Portal Program Manager (Natural Resources Specialist, 0401 series) in State and Private where I manage the Stewardship, Landscape Scale Restoration, and Forest Health reporting databases for State and Private Forestry. Prior to my work in the Agency, I worked as a SCEP with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (supporting the war fighter through geospatial tools), an intern with the US EPA, and as a biological technician in a variety of positions with Universities. I completed my Postdoctoral Fellowship in Forestry at Clemson University, and received my MS and PhD in Geography from Virginia Tech and my dual BS in Evolution and Systematics (Zoology) and Environmental Science and a BA in Geography from Auburn University.
Yiqiang (Kevin) Gu, Pacific Northwest Region
What can you contribute to APAEA as an EC member?I am looking to continue to promote diversity and inclusion within the agency. I have helped out with various project over the last few years and would like to further this contribution. The one area I would like to focus on is the AAPI employee career development, leadership, and retention portion of our mission. For those of you familiar with the TV show Fresh Off the Boat, that basically captured my experiences as a teenager in the US. I was born and raised in China, and came to the US in 2001. At the age of 12, I began working in my parent’s restaurant; school during the day and work in the restaurant at night. Although I learned a lot of valuable lessons by starting work at a young age and the lessons continued to help me to this day, I quickly realized that lifestyle may not be right for me. Since I’ve always been better at math growing up, I decided to study Civil Engineering in college. I received my BS in Civil Engineering from Oregon Institute of Technology in 2011. During my junior year of college, I was recruited into the Forest Service thru the SCEP program. I was very fortunate to have interned on the Olympic NF in R6 and was able to later be converted there permanently. A few years in, I decided to continue my education and obtained a MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington in 2016. I just finished my 8th year with the forest service and the experiences along the way have been very rewarding.
Lynn Khuat, Pacific Northwest Region
I aim to contribute to APAEA by fostering a space of inclusivity, diligently working to outreach out to Asian-Americans in the agency, and contributing my unique thoughts and ideas to help APAEA grow. As an Executive Committee member, I will be able to bring my experiences working in the Asian-American community to outreach to people in AAPI backgrounds. I'd like to lead projects such as in-person conversations, social media, and working on brochures to grow the APAEA committee. I am a soil scientist on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and live in Cle Elum, WA where I manage the soils program on two ranger districts, provide natural resource input for government actions, and educate the public on the importance of soil and water in our forest ecosystems. I am a native of the Pacific Northwest, graduating from the University of Washington with a Bachelor's and Master's in Environmental Science Resource Management. I have work experience throughout Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. I am also the co-executive director for Tet in Seattle which is the largest free lunar festival in the Pacific Northwest held in Seattle, WA. Over the past decade, I have been involved with the Vietnamese community through multiple leadership positions in non-profit organizations. In my free time, I love to cook, travel, and spend time with loved ones, swim, snowboard, and hike.
Hilda Kwan, Pacific Southwest Region
In my second term as an Executive Committee member, I will be looking to continue ongoing projects and strategize for the future. I plan to continue my service as Heritage Project lead where I continue to take a leadership role in coordinating with partners and would like to use those skills and connections to further connect the Asian community with the Forest Service. I am currently District Hydrologist for the Upper Lake and Covelo Ranger Districts on the Mendocino National Forest in California. I have a B.S. in Forestry from Humboldt State University and M.S. in Hydrology from University of Nevada, Reno. I began my career as a SCEP (Student Career Employment Program) on the Sequoia National Forest and converted to a full time Hydrologist. As a hydrologist I've worked throughout California and the US in providing technical expertise to support for various wildfire missions. District life has also allowed her to learn about other disciplines through wildlife surveys, archaeology excavations, fuels projects, range monitoring, and trail maintenance. I have been involved with the APAEA working group prior to joining the EC and I am looking forward to working with other dedicated AAPI employees in the Forest Service.
Magdalene Luna, Northern Region
I was born and raised in Southern California. I didn't know what it felt like to be an outsider until I moved to Montana in my thirties. Being away from a diverse community, I now know how much of a comfort it is to know that others share in my identity, of being both American and of Asian descent. That sharing our traditions together is a way to acknowledge the strength of our culture to continue even when it would have been easier to assimilate and let our histories be forgotten. I want to share and promote the pride of us living as the proof of the dreams, strength, and hard work of our ancestors. I am a Union Steward & have just completed IAM/NFFE Union training. I am knowledgeable of our FS Master Agreement, grievances, & working with Management. I can help our members with knowing their rights as employees in the FS & to help them navigate thru the bureaucracy to find fair solutions. I was born in Fontana, CA where my parents were nurses in the first Kaiser Permanente hospital built for the Kaiser Steel Mill. I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic community and went to Catholic school from Kindergarten to High School. I received my Bachelor's in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California and am a Troy Philippines Alumni. (I was also pre-med to appease my mother.) I worked in art galleries in Los Angeles for years before wanting to work for environmental organizations. I started volunteering for the National Park and then started my career for the Forest Service working for recreation and having fun riding ATV's and horses. I am now a Forest Service Union Steward and work for the Rocky Mountain Research Station as an Administrative Assistant. I am currently working on my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Montana. I am working on a book about living as an Asian American in Montana.
Sam Wu, Washington Office, Detached
I've had the privilege of being a part of the Executive Committee (EC) for the last two years. As an EC, I will push for APAEA to have a larger impact within the Forest Service and encourage a stronger and more useful network for APAEA members. I've been a Forest Service employee for over 12 years, working at the National Tech and Development Program in San Dimas, CA. Prior to the Forest Service, my professional experience included teaching in China, volunteering with the Peace Corps in Guinea, and running energy calculations for LEED buildings. Now, I work on developing and evaluating technologies to ensure that firefighters have the equipment they need. Outside of work, I just try to keep up with my wife and six-year-old kid. I love to hoop, read books, and eat good food so if you're in the area, let me know.