Local man named to head D.C. agency

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Marvin &uot;Skip&uot; Underwood Jr. grew up in Chuckatuck on what is now Godwin Boulevard. His mother, Elizabeth &uot;Diddie&uot; Underwood, still lives in the family home, but his career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has taken him far and wide across the nation.

Underwood is preparing to return to Virginia as he accepts an appointment in the agency’s Minerals and Geology Management Staff.

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USDA Chief Dale Bosworth appointed Underwood as the director of the agency’s Minerals and Geology Management staff. Underwood is the director of the Physical Resources staff in the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region in Denver, Colo.

As national director, Underwood will be responsible for leadership in minerals management, geology programs and energy development from oil, gas and coal resources on National Forest lands.

&uot;As the director of the Rocky Mountain Region’s Physical Resources program since March 1997, Underwood has demonstrated strong leadership in minerals and geology programs including energy development and has an excellent understanding of those issues from a field perspective, which is critical,&uot; said Bosworth. &uot;The Minerals and Geology Program manages resources that are critical to the welfare of our country and Skip has an excellent track record of developing internal and external partnerships to support agency objectives, which will be important in working with the wide variety of interests and stakeholders involved in these programs.&uot;

Previously, Underwood was forest supervisor of the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland.

Earlier assignments included leading a team studying water development to serve the Denver Metropolitan area and three years as a district ranger on the Pike National Forest also in Colorado. He began his Forest Service career in the Southern Region in 1971 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry and wildlife.

&uot;I was a member of the Virginia Tech Corp of Cadets and graduated with an ROTC commission as a second lieutenant with the Army,&uot; said Underwood. &uot;I was on active duty in Maryland and then in Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. An interesting aspect to that is that is where I met and married my wife, Karen. We were there for almost three years. It was great being in Alaska… so different from Virginia. The Sears Roebuck catalog became a staple for reading and other necessities.&uot;

Underwood also recalls that he attended the same school, Chuckatuck School, from the first grade to graduation. It is the same school his late father, Marvin Underwood Sr., attended with former Gov. Mills E. Godwin.

&uot;I think it’s kind of wonderful that I graduated from the same school from which my father graduated,&uot; said Underwood. &uot;I graduated in 1963 from Chuckatuck School and from Virginia Tech in 1967. Now, I’m preparing to return to Washington, D.C., to the headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency I’ve been with for 32 years.&uot;

Underwood is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and after three years of active duty, served in the Army Reserve for 23 years retiring with the rank of colonel in 1994.

&uot;I’m honored to be chosen to lead the Minerals and Geology Management Program and I’m eager to begin this assignment. The nation is facing major challenges in energy development and use of other mineral resources on public lands and I’m looking forward to these challenges,&uot; said Underwood.

In addition to the reward of an exciting new job, Underwood is thrilled at the prospect of returning to the Virginia area. His service has taken him far and away and he’s lived across the nation since 1976.

&uot;I think it’s wonderful to return to my roots… my home state,&uot; said Underwood. &uot;I will be able to visit with my mother and family, and I look forward to seeing all my old friends again.&uot;

Underwood will report for his new duties late this month, replacing Larry Gadt the former director of Minerals and Geology Management who retired last year.

The Underwoods have two grown children, a son, Jake, of Ft. Collins, Colo., and a daughter, Katie, who has just entered graduate school at the University of New Hampshire. The Underwoods are also the proud first time grandparents of Mary Elizabeth, 3, who is named after her paternal grandmother. Underwood also has two sisters; Barbara Chapman and Mary Anne Riddick, both of Suffolk.