Lifetime Service Award
The Public Lands Foundation grants to Judy Nelson its Lifetime Service Award for excellence in public land management. The Foundation provides this award to deserving members who have perpetuated and enhanced the proud tradition of public service.
Judy was born in Utah, but as a child she moved with her family around the country, including locations in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Washington, D.C. and New Mexico. Judy attended the University of New Mexico where she earned a Bachelors degree in history and economics and Masters in natural resource economics.
Judy began her career as a statistician with the Soil Conservation Service, but soon moved to New Orleans working for the Outer Continental Shelf Office as an economist. That was the beginning of her 30-year career with the BLM in 1975.
As Judy progressed into increasingly responsible positions within the Bureau, she was often a trailblazer, both in bringing the economics discipline into the organization and being the “first” woman in several arenas.
Judy’s career with the BLM included working in the Nevada State Office; Office of Coal Management and Division of Rangeland Resources in Washington, D.C.; as Assistant District Manager for Resources in the Vale Oregon District; as District Manager in Lakeview, Oregon (the first female District Manager in the BLM); as District Manager, Eugene, Oregon; and as Chief Branch of Biological Sciences, interim Deputy State Director for Lands and Resources and Acting Associate State Director in the Oregon State Office. She retired from the BLM in 2004.
While in the Vale District, she started mentoring women entering the BLM at that time of significant change in the makeup of the BLM. She continued that practice throughout her career, hiring and mentoring emerging managers and senior leaders in the BLM. After she retired, Judy participated in Pathways presentations, where she was always willing to listen and advise new employees to the organization.
In 1989, the Public Lands Foundation awarded Judy their first Outstanding Public Land Professional Manager’s Award.
Her leadership never faltered. Her contributions were immense. Her loyalty unquestioned. She was an inspiration to many that worked with her and for her.
For these significant contributions throughout her career, the Public Lands Foundation is honored to recognize Judy Nelson with this Lifetime Service Award.