DCNR salutes employees’ award-winning efforts
It is a familiar refrain, but one DCNR Secretary Richard Allan says he never tires of hearing: DCNR employees excel at what they do.
“The scope and excellence of what you accomplish day in and day out is recognized and appreciated, and it comes back to me over and over again,” the secretary said, addressing honorees and guests at the seventh annual DCNR Employee Recognition Program. “As I travel the state, the people on the street, in the towns and communities, all tell me they are appreciative of the great job you all do.”
Receiving a total of 21 awards, more than 60 DCNR workers were personally congratulated by Allan and deputy secretaries John Giordano, Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn in a May 3 ceremony in the auditorium of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg.
“You all are exemplary employees and your accomplishments bring pride and value not just to this agency but to the entire state,” Allan said. “Your fantastic, award-winning efforts and the daily performance of your co-workers say what you are, and what DCNR is.
“Working in this position with you all has given me with the most enjoyment I ever had in my career.”
Also addressing the gathering before presenting awards, Deputy Secretary Giordano took the audience back to early May 2011 when he was just beginning with DCNR. He was meeting employees and hearing of their accomplishments for the first time.
“Looking back a year, I was speaking to a sea of new faces, and now I look out and see a collection of good friends comprising what is by far the most dedicated workforce of any state department,” Giordano said. “Dedication is really what makes this place so special, what makes it so unique.
“There is a commitment that goes above and beyond in DCNR. I hear that wherever I go and I want to thank you all again.”
Honored employees received commendations and eagle plaques, specially produced at DCNR’s Penn Nursery in Spring Mills, Centre County, in recognition of what the secretary said was “uncompromising and unfaltering dedication” to DCNR’s mission, and the resources and people the department serves and protects.
Employees saluted were nominated by their superiors and selected by a screening committee of coworkers. Honorees represented DCNR’s bureaus of state parks, forestry, facility design and construction, administrative services, and recreation and conservation.
Award categories and honorees were:
Secretary’s Achievement Awards
Presented to those who have accomplished an unusually difficult undertaking that furthered the objectives and core missions of DCNR. Honored were:
Salyn Stover, Steve Squibb, Mike Eschenmann, DCNR Secretary Richard Allan, Mike Piaskowski and Sue Woods. Honoree not shown: Tom Ford.
White Rocks Acquisition Team
“Over the last three years, this team of employees successfully led the effort to turn the White Rocks Acquisition project into a reality by working with the National Park Service, helping to secure federal and state funding for the project, and negotiating complex state and federal requirements to assure that all funding requirements were met,” said Giordano in announcing the award. “The protection of this corridor was one of the key issues that led to the formation of the South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative.”
Although all were involved in grant awards, grant management and grant legal issues, the White Rocks project “stretched all staff to think creatively in order to meet the needs of the National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and DCNR,” the deputy secretary said.
Brian Caldwell, Doug Finger, Mary Hirst, Terry Daltroff, Bill Delling, Steve Cardell, Secretary Richard Allan, Matt Beaver, Scott Rimpa and Wayne Wynick. Honoree not shown: Beth Grove.
DCNR Search and Rescue Committee
“In a relatively short time frame, the DCNR Search and Rescue Committee has revitalized and redefined DCNR’s Search and Rescue Program, providing much needed guidance and direction and making it a much more effective and efficient Department program,” Giordano said.
The deputy secretary noted the committee has developed and improved trainings and information resources to support the needs of the field staff, and worked with other outside groups and agencies to develop much needed relationships focused on understanding and cooperation in search and rescue activities.
“While search and rescue may only comprise a small portion of these individuals’ regular duties, the quantity and quality of work and their enthusiasm and dedication to this committee’s work has been exemplary,” Giordano said.
DCNR Excellence Award
Recognizes sustained exemplary efforts of employees whose work is of significant importance in advancing DCNR success.
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Ranger Michael Bonner and DCNR Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn.
Ranger Michael Bonner
“Mike Bonner is an employee who has the ability to quickly recognize the seriousness of all situations and act with urgency and care while coordinating the appropriate responses,” Giordano said. “During a particular incident at Ridley Creek State Park -- an emergency in which a man’s life was in danger -- Mike displayed sincerity, concern and thoughtfulness during a follow up when dealing with the victim’s family and the victim himself …”
“Mike Bonner, like many of you, represents this agency in a truly professional and caring manner, giving the ultimate customer service during all of his public contacts.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Warren Baum, Cheryl May and DCNR Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn.
Cheryl May and Warren Baum
“During a severe Oct. 29 snowstorm, Warren and Cheryl put customer safety ahead of their own safety for two straight days, working extended hours to consistently check on and ensure the safety of park users at the campground,” Giordano said. “More than a foot of heavy, wet snow fell onto the park and trees -- and many trees began to fall across roadways and adjacent to the campers. Warren, who was not scheduled to work that day, walked to work because the roadway was blocked with downed trees and wires.”
“Both made their way to the campground and had the foresight to evacuate everyone from danger,” Giordano said. “These two employees went well above and beyond their normal call of duty and put patron safety and needs above their own, risking their lives to make sure all remaining patrons were safe and secure.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Mark Lewis and DCNR Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn.
Mark has been the primary coordinator for forested riparian planting projects in Crawford County for 11 years, drawing from the knowledge and experience of more than 20 other agencies/organizations to conduct 57 individual riparian projects through that time. Mark has utilized over 4,400 students from every high school in Crawford County and has involved an additional 550 individuals to assist with the planting projects.
During his involvement with the project, 52,000 trees have been planted along 30 different streams that have been identified as impaired waterways, impacting nearly 20 miles of streams. Mark has coordinated the planting of trees on private lands, school district lands, state park lands, PennDOT lands, municipal lands and federal properties.
“Mark goes above and beyond his normal duties in coordinating the planting projects,” Giordano said. “ He secures trees, shrubs and other planting materials, prepares sites for planting, coordinates projects during the busy spring fire season, contacts landowners, contacts schools, and ensures every project proceeds in a smooth, efficient manner.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Chad Voorhees and DCNR Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn.
“Chad took the initiative to coordinate three major projects, doing the necessary research, data analysis, and writing for much of the work,” Giordano said. “At a time when his section was understaffed and stretched thin, he coordinated and single-handedly managed the 2011 Forest Stewardship Council audit; he coordinated the closure of the 2010 Corrective Action Request; and he facilitated the 2011 High Conservation Value Forests analysis.”
The award-winner’s efforts on High Conservation Value Forests on state forest lands required significant data analysis and coordination across several bureau program areas, a public review process, and building of both internal and external partnerships.
“This effort resulted in 177,000 acres of HCVF designed on state forest lands and a process supported by key DCNR stakeholders,” Giordano said.
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Andrew Duncan and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
“Andy has spent untold hours working with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and due partly to his hard work, private forestland owner programs are now gaining greater visibility in NRCS, and NRCS is now paying more attention to this part of its constituency,” Giordano said. “Because of Andy’s work, NRCS now seeks out involvement of our forestry staff when it discusses forestry-related items.”
A relatively new employee to DCNR and the Bureau of Forestry, Giordano said, “Andy jumped right in to his new position and has, in his first year with his section, made significant inroads with NRSC.”
"Tracey has brought agro-forestry ideology and practices into view in Pennsylvania,” Giordano said. “Prior to 2011, agro-forestry—the combination of forestry and agricultural practices -- was not frequently discussed or widely practiced in the commonwealth. Tracy has been instrumental in obtaining grant funds to create a series of agro-forestry workshops throughout the state.
Coulter has successfully partnered with the Penn State Forestry Cooperative Extension, Shavers Creek Environmental Center, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to complete these workshops. She saw agro-forestry as a new way to reach out to landowners.
“The progress we have made in agro-forestry in Pennsylvania is largely due to Tracey’s efforts and forward thinking,” Giordano said.
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Dr. Thomas Hall and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
Dr. Thomas Hall
"Dr. Hall’s efforts in forest disease management and outreach have far surpassed the department’s expectations because of his collaboration at all levels, including private citizens, groups, forestry and park employees, and outside agencies,” Giordano said. “Dr. Hall has selflessly worked to promote the practical understanding of disease management through his long-term collaboration with various individual, work groups, and organizations. In addition to his publications, pest alerts and sponsored training events have furthered this understanding through the commonwealth.
"Through his outreach efforts, teaching, analysis, publication and one-on-one mentoring, Dr. Hall’s work is recognized and respected locally and nationally.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Thaddeus Ligenza and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
“In addition to his regular job duties, Ted organized two events -- the ‘Hyner View Challenge,’ with over 900 participants from various states, and the ‘Prowl the Sproul’ hiking weekend,” Giordano said, and in doing so has forged a strong working relationship with the Keystone Trails Association. He has received its prestigious “Golden Pulaski Award” for his exemplary work on the Sproul State Forest District trails.
“Ted has gone over and above his normal duties in promoting the district’s hiking trails and the commonwealth’s Pennsylvania Wilds area,” said Giordano.
DCNR Customer Service Award
Recognizes the most outstanding customer service, whether provided internally or externally.
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Ranger Steven Shaffer and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
Ranger Steve Shaffer
“Steve followed up on an opportunity to assist in the golden eagle migration research to determine if we had golden eagles in the Tuscarora State Forest and, because of Steve, the Tuscarora State Forest became the first camera trap research station in the state in January 2011,” Giordano said. “After the camera began taking wildlife photos, Steve sent some to friends and family and in a matter of days the photos were sent around the world, including to our troops in the Middle East. We received many wonderful comments about the wildlife in our state forest.”
Within months, the Tuscarora State Forest District office had amassed over 33,000 photographs of wildlife, Giordano said, “and quite a following of people enjoyed those photographs.”
“With the advent of social media, Steve has stepped up to tackle the unorthodox task of maintaining a Facebook page and the effort has resulted in over 400 Facebook friends on the Tuscarora State Forest page. We are now in contact with more people, including those that have never visited a state forest and those that never knew a state forest system existed.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Ronald Carney and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
“As a Facility Design and Construction inspector, Ron’s work in the construction of the new Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge—and the removal of the old span across the Pennsylvania Turnpike—has been exceptional,” Giordano said.
“This project was atypical in that there were three different entities involved and the work over and within the Pennsylvania Turnpike is a further complication which is beyond a typical DCNR project within a park or forest district. Ron worked to satisfy the needs of the Turnpike Commission, the bureau of State Parks, and the operational concerns of the Bureau of Forestry, and always stayed ahead of problems and issues for the contractor so that any delays in the construction could be minimized.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Kathy Smith and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
Kathy Smith manages a fast-paced front desk environment at the Michaux State Forest District Office, servicing walk-in requests generated by 459 leased campsites, thousands of camping registrations and thousands of dollars worth in firewood permit sales, extremely heavy requests for recreational trail access, and much more.
“She consistently and proactively assists district managers in identifying and responding constructively to stakeholder concerns on these and other issues,” Giordano said. “Her consistent demonstration of extremely high standards for professional excellence within a public service sector role are frequently noted and commented on by both district staff and the public alike.”
DCNR Exceptional Support Award
Recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of support staff. This award is for employees who display the highest levels of commitment, enthusiasm, and competence in supporting the work of a bureau, office or the department.
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Timothy Sherry and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
“Getting a recycling program in the office from the ground up was not something the average forest technician is hired to do,” Giordano said, “but Tim took the bull by the horns and pushed three bureaus located in one Emporium building to recycle and to think beyond the fact that Cameron County does not have a recycling program.”
“Tim’s efforts always were aimed toward the resource and never once did he think of himself during this process. He developed and continues to further staff and promote understanding of the recycling effort on a daily basis, and he has encouraged others to begin and sustain the effort to recycle at his bureau office.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Sharon Hockenberry and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
An employee of Tuscarora State Forest District Office, headquartered in Blain, Perry County, Sharon Hockenberry has garnered a reputation fostering improved efficiency of new office staff at several forestry offices. She was sought repeatedly to help other offices in training, timekeeping and other duties.
“Keeping all the purchasing, accounting and timekeeping correct and on-time between two state forest offices, 75 miles apart, is a difficult task,” Giordano said. “Sharon went above and beyond the normal effort to assist her coworkers and was able to help another district, do all of her own work, and also the work of her district’s clerk typist -- all with speed and efficiency.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Don Kepple and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
“Don’s skills in GIS are invaluable to the Michaux State Forest District, and his abilities elevate the job performance of his coworkers and supervisors,” Giordano said. “Other district staff does not have the skill or expertise to accomplish these tasks so his work is invaluable to district operations, and his skills save the district hours of staff time as he completes assignments in a much shorter time frame and at a higher quality than other staff that don’t have these skill sets.
“Don also frequently assists the general public with various requests related to maps and GIS. His skills go above and beyond the expectations for a forester position.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Andrew Garman and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
A maintenance repairman in the Tuscarora State Forest District, Garman almost single-handedly took over initiating improvements at the district’s Three Square Hollow overlook. Along a narrow, steep mountain road with no place to park, the vista was plagued by dumping and littering.
“Andy suggested they move the vista to the top of the mountain and move it away from the road,” Giordano said. “The new vista has a parking area, hitching post, a short trail and a considerably safer area for families to stand by a pole railing to see the Cumberland Valley. Andy provides his prospective and insight into tasks and projects that will improve the end result.”
Team Excellence Award
Recognizes outstanding team effort where the synergy of the team accomplished significantly more than individuals working alone.
Mike Twigg, Kathleen Rhoten, Jim Kalp, Jason Adams, Kevin Kroculick, DCNR Deputy Secretary Ellen Ferretti, Ben Cassidy and DCNR deputy secretaries John Giordano and Cindy Dunn.
Weiser State Forest Resource Management Center Complex
"The employees that participated in the Weiser State Forest Resource Management Center design project took on a challenge not normally done in-house by their bureau,” Giordano said. “Facility Design and Construction normally would contract with a consultant for a design project as large and complete as the Weiser State Forest Resource Management Center but FDC employees agreed to take on the challenge of this work in an effort to provide the Bureau of Forestry with a state-of-the-art facility at a reduced cost for DCNR.”
“The complexity and scope of the Weiser State Forest Resource Management Center design is above and beyond work normally taken on by state employees,” Giordano noted, “but this team did accept the challenge and all employees that participated in this project worked extremely hard to provide a reliable, comfortable and attractive DCNR facility while meeting tight deadlines.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Joe Northey, Sam Steiner, Steven Steele, Deborah Steele, Naomi Martin, Jerry Wymer, John Sleppy, Randy Keihl, Doug Gadley and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
Cook Forest Clear Creek Complex Staff
Employees on this team completed highly skilled work in the carpentry, masonry, and plumbing trades on an 1870s structure, The Inn at Cook Forest, and also maintained the inn’s architectural integrity. This structure was originally built in 1870 and was lived in by the Cook family until 2006, when it was sold and privately owned and operated as a Bed and Breakfast.
“From start to finish this project was an entire team effort,” Giordano said. “Because the entire park staff came together as a team, the maintenance crew was able to maintain mowing, cleaning and other basic maintenance tasks during the restoration. The Inn at Cook Forest is now another unique option for the park visitor and overnight guest.”
Gavin Smith, Craig Schwartz, DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, JG, Earl Stoltzfus, Jennifer Naugle, Matt Beaver, DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn, and Abby Kane. Honorees not shown: Barbara Dickerson, Nicole Durand.
DCNR Volunteer Tracking System Team
This team developed a single system to monitor and maintain DCNR volunteer data. An automated application process, it allows DCNR volunteers to apply for volunteer opportunities and enter volunteer hours. All members of the team spent significant hours on the development and planning of the system while continuing to meet the needs and responsibilities of their regular duties.
“Specifically, members of the team from state parks and forestry were integral in giving their time and energy to analysis of the current business process for volunteer management within DCNR, working as advocates of the system to field staff within their respective bureaus and in the training of staff on the use of the system."
Donald Weis, DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, Jeremiah Fragale, Clark Barber, Tom Hanes, and DCNR deputy secretaries Ellen Ferretti and Cindy Dunn.
Hicks Run Maintenance Division and Staff
This Elk State Forest District team demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the multi-district development of the Quehanna non-motorized, multi-use trail system, including the development of signage, information and education for this trail system.
“A bridge, walkway, and 30 signs were constructed and installed on this trail and in addition the trail surface was stoned.” Giordano said. “Horseback riders, hikers and hunters have been using the trail system and are thrilled to be able to explore the Quehanna Wild Area and return safely to their vehicles. All of this work was done by the staff while still accomplishing routine duties within respective work areas.”
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