Shiloh Sundstrom honored by US Senate

Since the tragic loss of Shiloh Sundstrom (son of RVCC Leadership Team member Johnny) late last year, people from across the world have expressed deep sadness at the passing of such a vibrant, genuine man. A conservation leader, champion of collaboration, and rural community ambassador, Shiloh will be remembered as a true embodiment of RVCC values and ideals. Shiloh had such a tremendous impact in his home state and beyond that on March 9, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) stood on the Senate floor and offered a tribute to Shiloh's life and work. His words are now preserved in the Congressional Record.

You can download the tribute here or read below.


"Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I wish to recognize the contribution of a young Oregonian whose life was cut far too short, but whose impact will stay with my State forever. Shiloh Forest Sundstrom, a young leader in the field of conservation- based rural development, was tragically killed by a hit-and-run driver in November at age 34.

Shiloh was a child of Oregon. He was born in the coastal mountains of western Lane County and lived much of his life enjoying all that rural upbringing had to offer. He loved the horses and cows on his parents' ranch and attended school in the small town of Mapleton.

A gifted student, Shiloh was his high school class valedictorian in 2000 and was accepted to Brandeis University. As an undergraduate, he spent a semester abroad at the School for Field Studies in Kenya, where he saw that the struggles of rural communities in Kenya paralleled the problems facing rural Oregon communities.

Studying the ways in which the Maasai people of Kenya struggled to balance their efforts to maintain a traditional resource-based economy while benefiting from wildlife conservation and tourism, Shiloh saw that the positive lessons being learned there could be applied back home in Oregon.

After graduating with honors from Brandeis, Shiloh came back to his beloved Oregon for his master's degree in forestry at Oregon State University. He then moved to the geography department to work toward a doctorate and returned to Kenya several times to pursue his research.

However, Shiloh was much more than a gifted student. He had the rare ability to take his research out of the classroom and work to implement positive change in the broader world. His work with the Siuslaw Institute, founded by his father John Sundstrom, and with the Siuslaw Watershed Council, injected a reasonable approach to often contentious natural resource issues, always with a focus on positive outcomes.

Shiloh always strived for success through collaboration--what I like to call the Oregon way. He was involved in the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, RVCC, a network that seeks common ground between diverse interests on conservation-based challenges facing rural areas in the West.

Shiloh's deep ties to rural Oregon, his stellar scholarship, and his worldwide experience gave him a uniquely powerful voice in demonstrating that conservation and economic development can go hand in hand.

The powerful outpouring of sadness at his death shows how deeply Shiloh impacted his community. The lessons that he taught and his leadership will not be forgotten. Shiloh's thoughtful, collaborative approach, his love of the land, and his dreams of a better world will live on in everyone he touched in the short time we were blessed to know him."