James “Jim” Oftedal, U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region
James Oftedal is the Region 5 Outreach, Recruitment & Workforce Diversity (OR&WD) Program Manager. Prior to this, he served as Central California Consortium (CCC) Director for 18 years. He was instrumental in helping establish the Central California Consortium. In 2006, the CCC expanded to include the Northern and Southern California Consortium sites; creating the statewide California Consortium. The program has received local, regional, and national recognition; including two Chief’s Honor Awards for Workforce Diversity and Promoting Recreation.
As the OR&WD lead, he oversees the California Consortium, Recruiters, and the Mentoring Program. He serves as a regional and national advisor regarding Cultural Transformation, Outreach and Recruitment, Youth Engagement, and Workforce Diversity. Through the Generation Green program, a K through 12 minority environmental education program, he provides leadership and employment opportunities to underserved students, which lead to natural resources related careers. He also develops strategies to increase workforce diversity via outreach, recruitment, and supportive services. As a result of his hard work and dedication which spans over 36 years, he has helped countless diverse students to gain temporary and permanent careers with the agency. Many of the students are from traditional farm working families, such as Latino and Hmong families. Essentially, Generation Green students are going from picking fruit in the fields to picking careers within the agency.
James states, “We’ve been focusing on green jobs before it was cool! Through grassroots efforts, we’re building our future natural resource leaders and many are bilingual. I always say that no matter what color you are or how much money you make, we can all agree that we need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. With increasing minority demographics, it is critical that we teach our communities to conserve and preserve. Through our internship opportunities, 100% of participants are embracing their roles as good stewards of the land. We just celebrated 20 years of bringing in diversity through our California Consortium and Generation Green programs. The best part has been seeing our youth reach their potential and rise in their careers. There’s many success stories! They started as our interns, but they are now deputy directors, regional staff leaders, program directors, lead engineers and more.”
James has successfully dedicated his career to serving as bridge to connect the agency with traditionally underserved communities. He is an agency leader, a community partner, and a mentor to many. Many of the students refer to him as “Padrino”. He passionately shares the Forest Service mission, the importance of being a good steward of the land, and works diligently to make the Forest Service the employer of choice among diverse committees.
For more information on the Region 5 OR&WD, call email firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 297-0706 Ext. 4957.