The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Shelby Taylor

Long-time friend of county ranchers receives award



CERTIFIABLY APPRECIATED: Kevin Guinn, third from left, holds his Unsung Hero Award in a ceremony honoring Department of Agriculture recipients.

Kevin Guinn makes his mother proud. Ask him why his first name is pronounced Kee-vin rather than the common Keh-vin, he'll tell you, "Because my mother said so."

Guinn is a state range management specialist with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation, and is one of only a handful of USDA employees nationally to receive the USDA Unsung Hero Award. Of 85,000 USDA employees, including 34 agencies in the Department of Agriculture, only 10 individuals in two groups receive this award.

Over the course of 40 years, Guinn's influence and contribution led him to Washington D.C. to receive the prestigious award, as well as meet with the U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack.

"I was able to go back and represent my agency and represent all the farmers and ranchers that I've worked with through the years," says Guinn.

Guinn was born and raised in Crane, Texas, just 32 miles south of the famous location for the TV show Friday Night Lights, and obtained his degree in Range-Forest Management at Colorado State University. His experience began in 1977 working with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in Arkansas before relocating to Ephrata, Wash., in 1981 as a range conservationist.

Guinn has since become the driving force behind the agency's sage grouse conservation efforts in Washington State and has developed many strong ties with local farmers here in Goldendale. "My office is in Ephrata, but I cover the whole state and I've worked in Klickitat County often," he says.   

He has imparted knowledge and motivated local ranchers and conservation partners to aid habitat conservation of local Sage Grouse."The Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) is the program I went to college for," says Guinn, "It's wildlife conservation through sustainable ranching."

In his efforts, Guinn has worked with people who are passionate about natural resources, ranchers and SCS/NRCS range conservation on natural landscapes-rangeland, grazed forests, and the like.

A letter from various NRCS and Sage Grouse Initiative Coordinators, specialists, and advisors for his recommendation for the award stated, "Kevin is a very dynamic and personable individual who pours his vast experience, dedication, and unrivaled passion into his work each day. Kevin's strong work ethic, cohesive tenacity, and common sense approach has resulted in exceptional landscape-scale conservation for wildlife and measurable gains to individual agricultural producers."

Guinn's four decades of federal service will come to an end this year upon his upcoming retirement, though his impact on the USDA and conservation efforts will not be forgotten.

"It's been a true honor and pleasure to work alongside Kevin over the years as he's the type of hero that every USDA office would be proud to have," said Sam Lawry, Western Pheasants Forever Director.

"To get this award in my 40th and last year-what a way to go out," says Guinn. "Even though the award comes to me, there are a lot of hand prints  all over my shoulders, people who mentored me and guided me and sometimes even kicked me along. What a way to end your career."


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