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The Leader

Staff awards 2000

Reprinted from The Leader, Fall 2000, Vol. 16, No. 1

Six employees were honored by NOLS this year for their dedication to the school's mission. At the 35th anniversary gathering John Gans presented in-town awards to Don Ford, Terry Marcus and Cheryl Jones and instructor awards to Don Sharaf, Mark Bergstrom and Scott Kane.

Don Ford, Alaska branch director started his NOLS career in 1978 as an instructor. He served as the Mexico branch director from 1980-1986 and has been the Alaska branch director since 1989. He is described by his staff as a director who "gives a lot to help ensure a smooth summer but he also expects a lot in return. He holds all of us to high standards while giving us the freedom to make meaningful changes in our program areas." Another staff member stated "Don realizes and exemplifies a long-term vision of creating a positive community at the branch. The result of this is a branch that functions at a consistently high level, with staff who feel empowered to be creative and productive. He goes out of his way to set a welcoming tone at the branch, and I think this is what keeps people coming back and saying this is their favorite branch. He strives to provide excellent support for students and staff, and makes their experiences his number one priority."

Terry Marcus, controller started working at NOLS as an administrative assistant in the development office in 1993. She noted on her 1993 self-appraisal that her major strengths are efficiency, productivity and follow-through. Any one who has worked with her would echo those comments as well. In 1994 became the accounts receivable bookkeeper; in 1996 she was promoted to payroll bookkeeper then accounting coordinator and 1998 she was promoted to controller. John Gans noted that at the rate she gets promoted she will have his job by 2004! Her strengths include versatility, willing attitude, computer and accounting skills, analytical ability, integrity and motivation. What this means on the job is that a typical day might find her doing the ROA on the clerk's day off, planning vacation schedules for the department, writing a newsletter article, running the month-end financials, tracking our endowment investments, reconciling the restricted donations and pledges, working with a branch manager on their budgets, or brainstorming solutions on our health plan with human resources.

Cheryl Jones, staffing office assistant, started working part-time for NOLS in 1987. In 1993 she was hired as the Rocky Mountain branch secretary and in 1995 administration administrative assistant. In 1998 she was promoted to the staffing office assistant. Cheryl is an example to all who she works with of how to incorporate leadership into any position. Her EB, communication, technical skills, and vision provide an environment in which others want to do their jobs to the same level of excellence. Instructors know when they call from any region of the world, they can talk to Cheryl and get the support they need. They know when they come to Lander she is there to greet and welcome them and to help and support them. Her dedication to her job provides invaluable structure and a sense of continuity for instructors. The staffing office wrote "Cheryl played a huge role in keeping the staffing office from making major mistakes and/or being overwhelmed in our first summer after a complete turnover. It sounds like a canned line, but we truly could not have done it without her".

FY00 Field Staff Awards

Mark Bergstrom - The strongest thin man at NOLS, and the person who brought knuckle-dragging to the school.

From one nomination: "Has an instructor or student ever not enjoyed and benefited from having Mark on a course? You would be hard pressed to find one. He is my favorite instructor to work with. He brought snow boarding to the school. Ask all of his students on semester courses who had the greatest impact on them in a positive way and I would almost guarantee over half would say Mark."

Mark's first course was a Wind River wilderness course in June of 1989, and he has worked in the field for NOLS every year since then, accumulating more than 230 weeks in the field. Mark's first five courses were a string of differ-ent course types, and proved to be a forecast of his NOLS work. It is quite im-pressive to start one's career that way, given that many instructors don't work that many course types in all their time at the school. In order those first courses were wilderness, mountaineering, caving, climbing, and winter.

Scott Kane - The enabler. A person who seems to bring out the best in everyone.

From one nomination: "I nominate Scott because he is the most generous, supportive, and caring instructor that I have ever worked with. Scott is a skinny guy who loses a lot of weight on courses, but he always serves others first and gives everyone seconds before he gets some. Even when courses are challenging, he always finds the good in students and fellow instructors. He is the most supportive patrol leader I have ever had and that is quite a few. He can course lead sea kayaking and mountaineering in Patagonia (not too many folks can do that), as well as instructor courses . . . I do not know a kinder, more generous man than Scott, a rare jewel in this world. I hope he continues to work for NOLS in some capacity and should be recognized for what a wonderful instructor he is to work with. I'd go anywhere in the world with Scott."

Scott's first course was a Wind River wilderness course in June of 1989. He too has worked in the field every year since then, and has accumulated more than 190 field weeks. Scott has quite a record of courses in Patagonia. He first worked there in January of 1993 and, excepting the office-bound years of 1998 and 1999, has worked there every year since. Scott has a strong record of training new instructors. He worked his first IC in 1991, his third year at NOLS, and has completed a total of five--including one this past summer. Other course types worked include natural history, educator, mountaineering in Chile, the Winds and Alaska, and hiking and sea kayaking in Mexico and Chile.

Don Sharaf - Mr. snow science.

From one nomination: "Single handedly changed the winter program, bringing it to new heights and standards. Uncompromising in his pursuit of excellence."

Don worked his first course, a Wind River wilderness course, in July 1990. He is another "every-year-since-then instructor" with a total of more than 180 weeks in the field. Don has worked wilderness, mountaineering (in the Winds, Alaska and the Northwest); canyon, sea kayaking courses, and every winter course type the school offers. A quick count revealed that he has worked a total of 13 avalanche seminars and four winter instructor seminars.

As all nominations pointed out, Don is widely credited with changing the winter program at NOLS. He brought a new level of professionalism to that program, and created an entire generation of snow-geeks who some accuse of enjoying time in snow pits more than time on skis. Our collective under-standing of snow science would be very different if not for Don.

Addendum: During the 35th celebration Don presented a paper at the International Snow Science Workshop titled: Avalanche Training at NOLS: The evolution of our program. After his presentation Kelly Elder from the US Forest Research Center in Colorado noted that he has watched the NOLS avalanche program go from an elemental avalanche program to one of the flagship programs due in large part to Don Sharaf's work.

In addition to employee awards John also honored those employees with 20 or more years of service. (A year of service was defined as having work in some capacity during a given year and also having worked in 2000). The following employees were honored with pewter mugs engraved with their names and years of service.

30 years of service

Mary Newbury - 30 years
George Newbury - 30 years

25 to 29 years of service

Willy Cunningham - 29 years
Dave Kallgren - 28 years
Steve Goryl - 27 years
Leslie van Barselaar - 26 years
Don Webber - 26 years
Tod Schimelpfenig - 26 years

20 to 24 years of service

Lucy Smith - 23 years
Cody Paulson - 23 years
Nate Steele - 22 years
Steve Matson - 22 years
Donna Ford - 22 years
Molly Doran - 22 years
Glenn Goodrich - 21 years
Kevin McGowan - 21 years
Claudia Pearson - 21 years
Drew Leemon - 21 years
Don Ford - 20 years
Tony Jewell - 20 years




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