Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
Select this button stylePrint Friendly

Torch Award winner Jason Westholter with Regional Director Tom Melius. Photo by Alejandro Morales/USFWS.

Torch Award winner Jason Westholter with Regional Director Tom Melius. Photo by Alejandro Morales/USFWS.

Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District
Takes Home 2015 Torch Award

On January 25, 2016, Senior Firefighter Jason Westholter was recognized with the 2015 Torch Award. Regional Director Tom Melius proudly presented Westholter with this special award at the regional office.

The Midwest Region National Wildlife Refuge System Fire Management Program has long recognized that our most important resource are our personnel. Dedication to conserving habitat following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mission is a long tradition in our region.

Since 2007, the Torch Award annually recognizes personnel that exemplify the “best of the best” and is built on peer-nominated employees, with the winner selected by the Regional Fire Management Coordinator.

Service firefighters from across the region nominate their peers based on the following criteria:

  • Dedication to the conservation of wildlife habitat utilizing safe hazard fuel / prescribed fire reduction techniques
  • Nominees should represent personal dedication to refuge / Wetland Management District cooperation and interagency collaboration in meeting habitat conservation burning goals
  • Regional Fire Management Coordinator makes the final section of the winner

Westholter is known for stepping up to any challenge with can-do spirit. He displays a high standard of conduct and professionalism for other personnel to strive for in both work and personal life.

“Jason continues to provide critical leadership and support to our fire organization during a period of declining staff and budget,” said Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District Fire Management Officer Steve Schumacher.

“A huge part of meeting these challenges is providing notable assistance in meeting Service habitat management, facilities, and fleet maintenance needs,” continued Schumacher.

Westholter is also credited with advancing the fire management skills of others through effective mentoring of college interns, seasonal firefighters and collateral duty staff. In addition, Westholter builds strong relationships with local rural fire departments and partners such as The Nature Conservancy, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to assist the Service in meeting fire management goals. Through his dedicated service, Westholter has helped build and lead a fire program that is regarded with the highest esteem by Service staff our partners.

Past Torch Award Recipients:

2007 – Chris Mursu, Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
2008 – Mike Belsky, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
2009 – Eric Acker, Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge
2010 – Ben Halverson, Leopold Wetland Management District
2011 – Eric Nelson, Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge
2012 – David Jones, Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge
2013 – Phil Millette, Morris Wetland Management District
2014 – Blake Knisley, Iowa Wetland Management District
2015 – Jason Westholter, Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District

By Russ Langford
Regional Office - National Wildlife Refuge System

Last updated: February 4, 2016