Mike Odle - Young Alumni Achievement Award
The Black Hills State University Alumni Association presented the 2012 Young Alumni Achievement Award to Mike Odle, Class of 2002, during the Student Volunteer Awards Celebration. The award is given to honor an alumnus who has attended BHSU within the last 10 years and has distinguished him or herself with outstanding achievements, contributions, and service to society, the community, and the University. Presenting the award to Odle were (left to right): Bill Collins, president of the BHSU Alumni Association; BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp; and Tom Wheaton, director of  Alumni Relations at BHSU.

The Black Hills State University Alumni Association honored Mike Odle, Class of 2002, with the Young Alumni Achievement Award during the 2012 Student Volunteer Awards Celebration.

The Young Alumni Achievement Award is given to honor an alumnus who has attended BHSU within the last 10 years and has distinguished him or herself with outstanding achievements, contributions, and service to society, the community, and the University.

Mike earned his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management with an emphasis in marketing. He was a member of the track and field team and competed in the high jump, long jump, and triple jump events.

Mike was involved in many BHSU activities including: the president of the Travel and Tourism Club, vice president of the Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity (2002), and the fraternity philanthropic activities coordinator. Mike was also a member of the Swarm Days Committee and the Thomas Residential Hall Committee.

He was also very involved in the community, serving as a board member for the Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, where he helped establish the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status. Mike was also a cadet programs director, a public affairs officer, and a search and rescue team leader for the Spearfish Civil Air Patrol.

Upon graduating from BHSU, Mike continued his education by earning his master’s degree in international management from the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and a graduate certificate in legislative programs from Georgetown University.

Mike is currently the chief of staff to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. He is responsible for providing leadership and managerial support to the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands within the National Forest System; state and private forestry programs and forestry research and development. He also provides leadership and support in the development of natural resource initiatives.

Mike began his career with the Forest Service in 2003 as an assistant public affairs officer in Redding, Calif., stationed at the Shasta-Trinity National Forrest. In this position, he planned and executed complex public affairs communication plans to convey messages to key federal stakeholders.

Two years later, he was named the public affairs staff officer of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a 2.1-million acre forest. In this position he developed, coordinated, and implemented the public affairs and communications programs with overall responsibility for media relations, community relations, internal information, congressional affairs, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Internet/Intranet web site programs. He managed these programs to promote a positive public image of Forrest Service activities in Northern California, and to effectively and accurately explain programs and projects to the public.

Mike then went on to work as the regional public affairs officer for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Great Plains Region with the Department of the Interior before rejoining the Forest Service in December of 2009.

He served as a congressional and legislative affairs specialist for the USDA Forest Service in Washington, DC. He was responsible for the overall planning and direction of congressional and legislative affairs activities for the state of Alaska, in addition to national policy issues surrounding water and air resources, climate change, conservation education, international programs, and confirmation of political appointees within the USDA. Mike prepared senior department and agency staff for interaction with congress, conducted congressional outreach, and produced informational materials about the Forest Service.

His assignments through the years have included the Navy Operational Support center in Billings, Mont., and the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field Air Base in Klamath Falls, Ore. He also provided support for the 44th Presidential Inauguration and the United Nations Peace Support Operation in Bangladesh. Mike is also a captain with the Air National Guard assigned to the District of Columbia Joint Force headquarters, where he serves as a public affairs officer.

Mike has received numerous awards including being named as one of 15 young public relations professionals of the year. He is a recipient of the 2002 Colonel Robert ‘Bud’ V. Payton National Public Affairs Officer of the Year Award, the Meritorious Service Medal for public affairs, and the California Commendation Medal for public affairs.