Torey Powell: 2014 PMF
One of the strengths of the PMF Program is that it exposes talented leaders to a broad array of opportunities to leverage their knowledge and expertise in a meaningful way that has a positive impact on people. As a Social Worker focused on community development and policy, I knew I wanted to find a position that allowed me to apply a systemic lens at addressing issues of concern within communities. I was fortunate that in each of my experiences I have had backing and support of my leadership who understand the importance and value of the PMF program. While they each invested a considerable amount of time and resources to develop me as a government leader, I now have a solid foundation to provide critical career leadership within my organization.
I started my PMF experience as a Partnership and Outreach Specialist on the Chugach National Forest in Anchorage, Alaska with the United States Forest Service. As a Texas native, I was weary of making the leap from Houston to Alaska, but I had a strong foundation of former and current PMFs who provided enough support that the transition was relatively painless. In this position, I had the pleasure of working on programs and projects that recognized the need to engage a broad and inclusive group of youth and families in increasing the understanding of the importance of our National Forest and Grasslands. This included providing meaningful exposure opportunities, bringing new partners to the table and reengaging our existing partners.
I was fortunate to continue this work on a national stage during my rotation where I served as an urban engagement specialist in support of the Every Kid in a Park program aimed at exposing young people to outdoor experiences. While this was a team effort, I had the pleasure of playing a leadership role in identifying meaningful ways to expand and engage our urban stakeholders and partners.
Ultimately, I decided to stay in Washington, D.C. and converted as the lead Partnerships and Outreach Specialist for the USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Agriculture. In this role, my focus is identifying barriers, providing policy guidance and analysis, and developing and implementing a national outreach strategy aimed at increasing the capacity of faith-based and community organizations to provide critical social services. In a few short months, this role has exposed me to high-level interagency programs and projects, including the Federal Interagency Reentry Council and My Brother’s Keeper.
I now serve as the Agricultural Youth Organization Coordinator where I lead USDA's work to institutionalize and elevate youth engagement, including supporting budget formulation and implementation, strategic planning, and outreach support for new and growing internship programs.