APAEA and Forest Service’s ongoing participation with OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates blossomed at this year’s 40th Anniversary National Convention held in Washington, DC on July 18-21. As a champion for APAEA, Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief National Forest Systems, supported a WO partnership to engage with this robust nationwide Asian Pacific American civil rights organization. R6 sponsored an outstanding exhibit that showcased historical legacies of pioneering Asian immigrant laborers who helped build the American West across public lands. FS also provided culturally relevant job opportunity information at the joint CAPAL (Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership) and OCA Career Fair.
Over a thousand convention attendees and honorees came from across the country – representing many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) ethnicities, from emerging federal professionals to Senior Executive Service, from high school students to elders, and APA leaders from DC’s college interns to Congresswomen and Presidential appointees.
APAEA’s network of employees and allies (including a R4 Forest Archaeologist, R6 Recruitment Program Manager, and others) cooperatively delivered an exceptional APA heritage workshop and exhibit, career fair booth, targeted outreach, and gained professional skills development.
The highlight of FS participation was the panel presentation to a packed crowd: “Land Of Our Ancestors: Preserving Asian Pacific American Heritage.” The FS presentation included an overview of archaeological excavations at numerous historical Chinese mining and woodcutter camps completed through the volunteer Passport In Time program, sponsored by the Heritage Program. Audience included leaders among various APA communities; Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon; Mike Kaczor, National Heritage Program Manager; and Terry Guen, the only Asian American board member of American Council for Historic Preservation.
APAEA helps calibrate USDA Cultural Transformation initiatives to better serve the fastest growing racial demographic in the country (AAPI population increased 46% from 2000 to 2010). Forest Service engagement with OCA is a natural way to outreach to AAPI communities – particularly as OCA rebrands as pan-Asian Pacific American and focuses on diversity and inclusion as societal values.