Volunteer for the council

Are you familiar with oil spill planning or response, marine science or engineering, journalism, mass communication or public relations? We need committee volunteers with knowledge in these areas!

PWSRCAC Board of Directors - September 2015

The council’s volunteers give their time and expertise to help maintain safe oil transportation in Prince William Sound.

The council is actively recruiting volunteers for the following committees:  Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System (POVTS), Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), Terminal Operations and Environmental Monitoring (TOEM), and the Information and Education (IEC) committees.  Please see committee descriptions below for more information on the work of each committee.

About the committees:

Committee volunteers are appointed by the board in an annual application process, completed in consultation with committee chairs and staff.

Volunteers are appointed for staggered two-year terms. Each committee has at least one member from the council’s board of directors. This committee structure is stipulated in the council’s bylaws and in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

Most committees meet every 4-6 weeks and often by teleconference because many members live in remote Alaskan communities. Most members donate anywhere from 5 to 10 hours per month, although this varies by committee. Committee members must reside in the state of Alaska.

Our committees:

Are you ready to volunteer?

For more information on volunteering, contact Outreach Coordinator Lisa Matlock at 907.273.6235.

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Meet some of our volunteers:

Davin Holen: Social scientist uses knowledge of subsistence fisheries to help communities adapt to changing environments

At 17, Davin Holen left his home in the woods outside of Wasilla, Alaska, to travel the world. He lived and studied in South America and Europe for several years before joining the Peace Corps, where he ended up in Mali, West Africa, living in a small mud hut on the edge of the Sierra Desert with his wife, Cara. “No running water, no electricity. It was like camping in the desert for two and a half years,” Holen says. Holen’s experience in Africa sparked a curiosity about human culture that has turned into his life’s work. “I was really interested in people’s interactions with the environment, especially in a subsistence economy.” He realized that even though he grew up in Alaska, he did not know much about the cultures in his home state. He returned from Africa and enrolled in the Master’s program at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Applied Cultural Anthropology. The department was brand new, and Holen was its first graduate. After earning his degree, he went to work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Subsistence, working his way up from an internship to program manager over 15 years. Holen assessed subsistence harvests all over the state, from Southeast Alaska to the Arctic. He tried to understand and document these fisheries, in order to anticipate problems that could arise, so he could find ways to address upcoming expected needs. Print PDF … Continue reading

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Tom Kuckertz: Retired staff member still contributes engineering expertise to council’s mission

The council has benefited from Chicago-born Tom Kuckertz’ broad experience in engineering for 16 years and counting. After his retirement from the council in 2014, Kuckertz continued on as a volunteer for the committee he worked with most closely, the Terminal Operations and Environmental Monitoring Committee. A young Kuckertz earned degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois and the University of Idaho, followed by two years in the U.S. Army as a Signal Corps officer, where he was involved in the design and implementation of large communications systems. “Basically, it involved how to move information from one place to another, and in most cases, deny access to adversaries,” explained Kuckertz. Print PDF … Continue reading

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Kate Morse: Volunteer helps connect new generations with council’s mission

Kate Morse was nine years old and living in Pennsylvania when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in 1989. Although she didn’t directly experience the spill personally, she now works to bring the spill to life for a new generation. Morse has been the Program Director for Cordova’s Copper River Watershed Project since 2008. The organization is based in Cordova but does work throughout the Copper River watershed drainage area, which includes not only Cordova, but Glennallen, Kenny Lake, Mentasta Lake, and Paxson. Morse says the area is about the size of West Virginia, and the population of the region depends on healthy salmon runs. “It takes an entire watershed to support healthy salmon populations due to their complex life cycle from salt to fresh water and back to salt water again,” says Morse. “Our education programs really aim at getting people to see themselves as part of a watershed community, rather than just the stream in their backyard.” She says her organization tracks the council’s projects closely because the Trans-Alaska pipeline runs through the Copper River basin. “There are major river systems in the area,” Morse says. “The prospect of removing oil from a glacial river, how the oil would contaminate the entire water column and the glacial sediments, it would be impossible to clean it up.” “Prevention is definitely the key.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Colin Daugherty: An unlikely Alaskan helps protect Prince William Sound

Colin Daugherty’s accent quickly gives him away as a native Chicagoan. “It’s unlikely that I ended up here in Alaska, working on boats,” says Daugherty, a recent addition to the council’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Committee. “I grew up in inner city Chicago. There was a program there that taught kids about boating skills and seamanship. I was part of that growing up, and it kept me out of trouble.” Daugherty has been on and around boats ever since. After school, he moved to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he first got involved with spill prevention and response. He was hired at the Hovensa refinery, at the time the largest fuel refinery in the western hemisphere. “I felt good about what we could do if bad things happen.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Jeremy Talbott: A life on the water inspires stewardship of the sea

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeremy Talbott, member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System Committee, is enthusiastic about his new hometown. He moved to Valdez with his wife Keri and their two daughters in May of 2014 to become the new harbormaster for the city. “I didn’t even know where Valdez was,” Talbot said. “But it was in Alaska.” Talbott had dreamed of moving to Alaska for a while. He applied for the Homer Harbormasters job several years ago, and later almost got a position in Juneau as Harbormaster. Talbott was disappointed, but Juneau’s port director told him about the opening in Valdez. “In hindsight, I’m really glad I got Valdez instead of Juneau,” he says. “I love it. I hit the lottery.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Jane Eisemann – Kodiak volunteer passionate about working for the council

Jane Eisemann, volunteer on the council’s Information and Education Committee, first came to Alaska in 1976 to visit her brother in Kodiak. She immediately fell in love with the state. “It was a beautiful place,” Eisemann said of her first impression. “My brother lived off the grid, I liked that lifestyle.” Eisemann returned to California with her mother, but before she left, she secured a job at a local pizza parlor, promising to return for good in two months. The island of Kodiak has now been her home for the last 38 years. Eisemann began commercial fishing in 1978 for crab, herring, and salmon. That year, she also got a winter job in the small community of Chiniak as a teacher’s assistant. With encouragement from the teacher, Eisemann decided to go back to school for a teaching degree while she continued to fish during the summers. Before she graduated, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and she ended up working on the cleanup effort. She noted it was a time of upheaval in the community. “The oil spill just changed everybody’s life,” she said. Print PDF … Continue reading

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Pete Heddell: Exxon Valdez taught many lessons to those who paid attention

Volunteer Spotlight: Volunteer Pete Heddell, member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee, has seen a lot of changes in Prince William Sound and Alaska. His parents brought him here at the age of three and a half, just 30 days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, where the family homesteaded outside of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula. Heddell worked in the fishing business for several years before joining the state police in 1963. After his retirement in 1987, Heddell and his wife Marilynn, started their marine charter service, Honey Charters, out of the port of Whittier. “We ordered the first of our four boats in the fall of 1987,” Heddell said. He and his wife spent that first summer exploring Prince William Sound. “In March of 1989, we were on the floor at our first sportsman’s show when we heard the Exxon Valdez had hit Bligh reef.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Mikkel Foltmar: New volunteer’s expertise benefits terminal projects

Mikkel Foltmar, one of the newest additions to the council’s volunteer roster, is almost as new to Alaska as he is to the council. However, he hasn’t wasted time putting his knowledge and experience to work to help protect the waters of Prince William Sound. Print PDF … Continue reading

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John LeClair: Oil spill response lessons from fighting wildfires

During his summer vacations from college, council volunteer John LeClair got his start in the field that he would come to love. He went to Idaho each summer to work for the Forest Service as a lookout, which evolved into a full time job as a “smokejumper,” or a firefighter who parachutes in to fight forest fires. Print PDF … Continue reading

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Linda Robinson: New committee volunteer has long history with council

On the way out the door on her last day before she retired from 23 years on the council’s staff, Linda Robinson turned in her application to volunteer on the Information and Education Committee, the group she helped re-form in 2008. Today’s committee has roots in an “education committee” which existed in the early days of the council, but was later dissolved. “Over the 23 years I worked for the council, I’ve watched volunteers dedicating a lot of time and passion to the mission of the council and I feel like it’s my turn to do that too.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Bauer reelected, new members welcomed, long-time volunteers honored

The council held its annual board meeting in Valdez during the first week of May. Among other business, new board officers were elected for the year. The 2014-2015 executive committee includes: • President: Amanda Bauer, representing the City of Valdez • Vice President: Thane Miller, representing Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation • Treasurer: Jim Herbert, from the City of Seward • Secretary: Cathy Hart, representing the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association Print PDF … Continue reading

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Gordon Scott tells his story of “Life at half a knot”

Volunteer Spotlight  On March 23, 1989, Prince William Sound fisherman Gordon Scott didn’t know a thing about oil spills, and if you had asked him that day, he probably wouldn’t have been too interested. “I was in Anchorage selling shrimp when the Exxon Valdez hit the rocks.” On Friday morning, March 24, he saw the headlines about the spill. He didn’t fish near Bligh Reef, so at first he wasn’t worried. On his rounds delivering shrimp, however, all the customers he talked to were asking if this would affect him. Would he still be able to keep fishing for shrimp? “Of course,” he told them, “this isn’t going to affect me! I’m a fisherman, that’s an oil spill, it’s a tanker.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Sarah Allen: Oil spills have been a major influence on new volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight Sarah Allan, newest member of the council’s Scientific Advisory Committee, known as SAC, has been fascinated by science and the natural world from a young age. Allan was born and raised in the tiny Southeast Alaska community of Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island. “I was always interested in science from a really young age, my folks were both high school science teachers, so I was exposed to a lot of science,” she says. “There’s a mentality that lends itself to science, that wanting to know the why and how of things.” “Understanding the why and how actually makes things that much more interesting and fascinating.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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John Kennish: Chair of science committee long interested in effects of toxins on environment and health

Volunteer Spotlight: John Kennish, chair of the council’s Scientific Advisory Committee, also known as SAC, found his life’s calling early. “I knew I’d be a chemist in the 11th grade when my teacher told us how scientists first figured out the composition of water,” Kennish said. “What excited me was how you could take indirect evidence and use your own sense of logic to draw conclusions about what was really occurring.” “I thought that was awesome.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Orson Smith: Engineering expert motivated by intellectual challenges

Orson Smith, the newest member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee, loves a good mental challenge. Smith was recruited by council project manager Alan Sorum to the committee a little over a year ago. Working with the committee has given him a chance to understand the terminal and the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic System better. “Port operations in the Valdez Arm represent truly challenging port and coastal engineering issues with the extreme weather,” Smith said, “The risk of an accident, even at a low probability, has a high cost.” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Harold Blehm: New council committee member has long history of volunteering in Prince William Sound communities

Volunteer Spotlight Harold Blehm, newest member of the council’s Terminal Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee is passionate about using his time to help make Valdez, Prince William Sound, and the Chugach mountains a better place. Blehm first moved to Alaska in 1982, after he graduated from Colorado State University’s School of Forestry with a degree in outdoor recreation administration. Colorado’s population has grown so much that Blehm said he doesn’t think he could ever return there. “All the lakes we used to fish in are now inside city limits and you can’t fish there anymore,” Blehm said, “It’s sad.” For his first few years in Alaska, Blehm worked for the City of Valdez as a firefighter, emergency medical technician and police officer. In 1988, Blehm finally got his dream job with the Alaska State Parks as district ranger for the Copper Basin Ranger District in Tazlina, Alaska. “I got that job in ‘88, and in ’89, guess what happened?” Print PDF … Continue reading

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Bob Jaynes works hard to protect beloved Sound

In a conversation with Robert “Bob” Jaynes, his dedication to and love of Prince William Sound is immediately apparent. Jaynes has been a member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System since 2004, chairing that committee since 2006. He has been operating a boat on the Sound for 22 years, licensed as a captain by the Coast Guard for 18 of those years. Originally from California, Jaynes’ work first brought him to Alaska in the 1980s while working for the Air Force. “After working several different jobs, like you do when you’re in your younger years,” Jaynes said, “I finally ended up working civil service at McClellan Air Force Base.” Print PDF

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