FSA Employees Honored as Unsung Heroes
Two FSA employees were recognized last week as unsung heroes by the Organization of Professional Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (OPEDA).
Robert Backus, county executive director in Charlestown and Scottsburg, Ind., and Steve Jones, fleet manager with the FSA Fleet Management Program in Washington D.C., were honored during the 2012 OPEDA Unsung Hero Award Program — a part of Public Service Recognition Week — for providing exceptional service to the American public.
On March 2, an EF3 and EF4 tornadoes struck communities in Scott and Clark counties in Indiana. Backus immediately began surveying the damaged areas and communicating with various volunteer and charitable groups to assist with the recovery of victims, livestock and personal property. Backus visited each neighborhood and attended emergency response team meeting to help with the clean up and inform producers and community leaders of FSA programs available to help them recover.
Backus said his actions were basic instinct and a desire to help others. “This [award] was a shock,” he said, giving credit to the program technicians whose outreach efforts contributed to the response and implementation of the Emergency Conservation Program. “I met many volunteers who put their life on hold for several weeks to help out. They deserve an award. I did it as part of my job and because I am a part of the community.”
Steve Jones is responsible for more than 770 agency vehicles in 50 states and U.S. territories. In an effort to streamline the Fleet Management Program, Jones reduced the fleet to 52 vehicles, thereby reducing fuel costs by $186,000. He also decreased vehicle leases by $95,000. This overall decrease reduced the carbon footprint by USDA vehicles by more than 515 BTUs (British Thermal Units).
Jones credits his team with the great success of streamlining the program. The team includes: Paige Haggins, LaWanda Rayfus, Mike Brown, Chip Doyle, James Burns, Diane Cudd, Morrell Jordan and Zeke Dennison.
“I’m honored to be among this year’s finalists and I’m proud to have made a contribution as an employee of FSA/MSD,” said Jones. “Any accolade I receive is due to the love and support of my wife, Lily and my daughter, Amanda. They are my dearest blessings from God and my motivation.”
OPEDA was established in 1929to represent professional employees and retirees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group works to enhance the effectiveness of members in the performance of their public service as well as to protect and advance employee interests through organized and concerted efforts.