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Student seeks to bring about awareness of missing tribal members

DAYTON — For some adults, it can take years or even decades before they find that one thing, a cause, that drives them.

For 16-year-old Isabella Yellowtail, a sophomore at TRHS and member of the Crow Tribe, it happened before she could even vote.

Unfortunately, it was a tragedy that led Yellowtail to realize what she needed to do with her life. Her tribal brother Freman Bend was reportedly murdered in 2016, a murder that has so far gone unsolved.

“This has always been part of my life,” Yellowtail said. “I wanted justice for him. I just didn’t know how.”

Since the murder, the high school student looked for a way to bring about awareness of the issue of missing tribal members or murders that go unsolved.

“I just surrounded my life with it,” she said, adding that too many murders of tribal women aren’t investigated properly or not at all. “One thing about Crow women, we just don’t die,” she added. “We come home to our families because family is everything to us.”

During a morning basketball practice, she said the idea for an event just popped into her head. Yellowtail helped organize the inaugural Tongue River Valley Powwow, a fundraiser in support of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a movement created to bring recognition to the disappearance and murders of Native American women and girls, at the high school in May.

“It started out as a joke,” she said. “Then, I thought about what I wanted to fight for.”

According to Yellowtail, the powwow was not only a fundraiser for MMIW but also a chance to celebrate tribal culture and history.

The event was such a success that it could become an annual event.

“Next year is definitely a go,” she added.

Yellowtail, however, isn’t about to stop there. With the help of her friends and classmates, they designed T-shirts sold in support of MMIW.

“We’re trying to come up with other ideas,” she added.

Michele Fritz, a social worker with Sheridan County School District 1, said Yellowtail deserves credit for making the powwow such a success.

“It was great,” she said. “(And) this was all Isabella.”

According to Fritz, Yellowtail stands out as a a strong advocate for a cause at such a young age.

“I’d say it’s very unique,” Fritz said. “She has that natural leadership ability.

“She’s a go-getter,” Fritz added. “I can definitely see her doing some big things in life. … She could do great things for sure.”

Clark Van Hoosier speaks for the trees
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SHERIDAN — There are 4,590 trees in the city of Sheridan, and City Arborist Clark Van Hoosier serves as the voice for all of them.

Van Hoosier is one of just two arborists in the city of Sheridan. He is the one who prunes the trees. He manages the Kendrick Arboretum. And when the non-native invasive Japanese beetle was found in Sheridan County last year, he took the lead on that too.

In other words, the city’s trees couldn’t have asked for a better or more hard-working advocate, Sheridan City Administrator Stuart McRae said.

“(Clark) hit the ground running in the summer of 2018 and has never looked back,” McRae said.

Van Hoosier is a 33-year-old Story native who earned a dual degree in rangeland ecology and environment and natural resource management from the University of Wyoming. After graduating, he spent four years as an urban forestry consultant with Tiger Tree Inc. of Laramie.

When the arborist position was created in 2018, Van Hoosier was eager to come home.

“I’m really grateful to be here in my hometown,” Van Hoosier said. “After moving away for a little bit, you really appreciate what Sheridan is, and you want to give back to it.”

Among other projects, Van Hoosier helped cultivate a database of all of the city’s trees, which helps the city ensure the safety and vitality of its community forest. He also led extensive pruning projects in the historic downtown area, North Main Street and the Kendrick Golf Course.

“I love pruning trees, because there is this really cool dynamic between the science of what the tree needs and there’s some art in it too,” Van Hoosier said.

Starting last year, Van Hoosier took the lead on the city’s battle against the Japanese beetle, which has the potential to damage a wide variety of trees, shrubs and turf grasses throughout the city. Van Hoosier said the forestry department was actively trapping and monitoring the beetle situation.

“Eradicating an insect like the Japanese beetle once it shows up in your town is not a likely scenario,” Van Hoosier said. “But we caught it early, which gives us time to educate the public about the proper practices and how we can live with the beetle while also mitigating risk to our trees and plant life.”

Van Hoosier is also actively trapping and monitoring for the emerald ash borer. While the insect has not arrived in Sheridan yet, it could potentially be a major threat, Van Hoosier said.

“Twenty percent of our trees in the city are ash, so that means we could potentially be losing one in five trees and that doesn’t include anything on private lands,” Van Hoosier said. “So we’re making decisions about what trees are worth saving when the time comes and planting new trees to prepare for those we’re going to lose.”

Van Hoosier said he considers his work an important duty and has some important community history to protect. Twenty of the state’s 60 Champion Trees — the largest trees of each species — can be found within or just outside city limits.

“There are a lot of cool old trees we’re working to preserve, and I’m glad I get to do it,” Van Hoosier said. “I’m a nerd for trees, and that makes it really easy to come into work and love what I’m doing.”

SHS alumna returns to reinvest in community through performing arts

SHERIDAN — Grace Cannon, 33, graduated Sheridan High School and thought she’d head for the bright lights elsewhere. But, instead, she came back to Sheridan and now is helping others enjoy the excitement of the live theater.

Cannon, a Sheridan County native, most recently directed the Sheridan Youth Theater production of “Frozen Jr.” at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center June 16-19.

“Grace is dedicated to theater, the theatrical arts and the power of theater to communicate and transform a collective community," said Erin Butler, executive director of the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center.

“She is passionate about Sheridan and the surrounding area, and we are so fortunate to have her sharing her passion with us now,” Butler added. “Grace is a joy to work with and an incredible asset to Sheridan County.”

Cannon tells her own story of her love for theater in the following Q&A.

The Sheridan Press: What brought you (back) to Sheridan?

Grace Cannon: I spent a lot of my early career thinking I wanted to live in a larger metropolitan area, but I eventually figured out that Sheridan has continued to feel like home. When I was ready to get my master’s degree, I did so with the goal of coming back to Sheridan afterward and reinvesting in the community.

TSP: Did you realize then you’d have a passion for it?

GC: When I was a senior (at SHS), I got the opportunity to participate in a summer program called the National High School Institute for Theater Arts at Northwestern University. It was there that I discovered Theater of the Oppressed and realized that, not only did I want to always have theater as part of my life, but also that I wanted to use theater to make people’s lives better in some measurable way.

TSP: What is your current span of activities in the performing arts?

GC: I have directed the fall play at SHS the last two years. Also, as of last fall, I am the lead teaching artist of WYO PLAY, the new education initiative of the WYO Performing Arts and Education center.

TSP: What keeps you passionate and involved in theater?

GC: I believe really strongly that the act of storytelling is crucial in people’s lives. I believe that theater has the power to open people up to change, connect people to each other, celebrate and commemorate the past, and imagine a more just and beautiful future for all.

TSP: What are the challenges you see locally in theater and performing arts?

GC: I think that the challenges I see locally in theater and the performing arts are the same challenges facing our community: people making assumptions and letting their egos lead the way. The more we work together, the more beautiful and meaningful the art that we create.

TSP: What are some of your goals for the future?

GC: I can’t wait to build more programming for adults to explore theater and storytelling on a personal level. We have a long tradition of community theater here, which is really wonderful. So another one of my goals is to help Civic Theater Guild establish sustainable and consistent methods for ensuring its longevity into the future. … My goal at any given time is to find ways to help people find small moments of delight, surprise, and joy in their daily lives.

Ackerman focused on helping others, preserving past

SHERIDAN — Whether on the job or volunteering, Jayme Ackerman is here to help.

For a little more than a year, the 29-year-old has worked as one of the Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s case managers. She aids in discharge planning — helping patients make sure they have access to long-term care, insurance coverage and other vital resources.

Ackerman’s passion for helping others has extended to her volunteer work with the Advocacy and Resource Center, where she answers calls from locals in crisis situations. She also keeps the region’s past alive serving on the board of the Trail End State Historic Site.

Ackerman’s passion for the community serves as an inspiration for her friend and former 20 Under 40 honoree, Cecilia Good.

“She is an amazing person that contributes a considerable amount of time and effort to the community,” Good said. “…I believe that she deserves recognition for the work that she does for Sheridan.”

Ackerman took some time from her busy schedule to talk a bit about giving back to the community she loves and calls home.

The Sheridan Press: What do you enjoy most about your job? And, on the flip side, what is the most challenging part?

Jayme Ackerman: I think what I enjoy most is the opportunity to help people. In some cases, we are really able to help change people’s lives. And the hardest part is when we can’t connect people with the resources they need. My heart breaks for them when that happens.

TSP: Did that desire to help people motivate you to get involved with the Advocacy and Resource Center?

JA: I saw a Facebook post about their need for on-call people, and I thought it sounded like a really rewarding thing. Initially, I did it because I thought it would be helpful experience as I worked toward my degree. But I loved it and kept doing it, and I intend to keep doing it. Every few months, I get a call that makes me think ‘Wow, I hope I helped that person.’

TSP: And how does the Trails End State Historic Site fit into all this?

JA: I did not grow up here. I’m from Casper originally. But my grandparents lived here when I was a kid, and in the summers, we went to the Kendrick Mansion. So I think those memories motivated me to get involved there. I wanted to relive my childhood memories and ensure that other families could make their own memories in the future.

TSP: What do you do when not working or volunteering?

JA. My husband and I are pretty outdoorsy. We like to go camping, fishing and golfing, and we just bought a house so we’ve been playing baseball and soccer in our backyard. My husband has been trying to teach me how to play guitar as well.

TSP: How’s that going?

JA: (Laughs) Not well. But it’s not for a lack of effort on his part.

TSP: Well, you can’t do everything.

JA: (Laughs) That’s right!

Sheridan businessman benefits from lessons learned in ‘College of Hard Knocks’
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SHERIDAN — You don’t always need a fancy college degree to earn success in business. Jeff Garrelts is the perfect example.

“I just kind of worked my way up,” said the 37-year-old Garrelts, principal and co-owner of Craftco.

Garrelts moved to Sheridan about 13 years ago. Twelve days after that he met his wife, Jessica. Besides his work at Craftco, they also own Cottonwood Kitchen + Home, a business they bought from previous owners in 2011.

“Jeff is the kind of guy that can do anything he sets his mind to,” Jessica Garrelts said. “He’s brilliant and determined. 

Dennis Mansfield | The Sheridan 

Jeff Garrelts

“Being his partner both in life and in business is full of promise, adventure and security.”

Garrelts also serves on the Center for a Vital Community board and recently participated in Leadership Wyoming.

Garrelts tells his own story of hard work and success in the Sheridan business community in the following Q&A.

The Sheridan Press: So, you say you went to the “College of Hard Knocks.” Do you think that education has served you well?

Jeff Garrelts: It has served me well, and I think it was the only way for me to go. While not traditional or what is pushed upon us from our educational institutions, I’m confident many would do much better learning in real-world environments rather than a classroom setting. I’d like to see a future where more people are able to take this approach.

TSP: What were some of the things you learned that have helped make you successful?

JG: My success doesn’t come from traditional learning or education. It came from strong morals and ethics paired with hard work and dedication.   

TSP: What drives you both personally and professionally?

JG: I like challenges and generally enjoy working and solving problems. While work can have its difficult days, most days I’d rather be out and about working than sitting around relaxing. 

TSP: With your success, do you try to help show others what they could do or be, without a college degree?

JG: I may have a chip on my shoulder about wanting to be successful without a college degree, but it’s not something that I try to push onto anyone. We all learn differently and it has worked well for me. I encourage everyone within our organization to work to better themselves in any way possible. 

TSP: Do you also try to give back to the community?

JG: I like to help out where I can as I would really like to see Sheridan keep the appeal that it has, and I know it will take hard work to keep it this way.

TSP: What are your future goals?

JG: I’m really interested in finding a way to make Craftco 100% employee owned. 

TSP: How would you like to see the community of Sheridan grow?

JG: I’d like to see Sheridan grow in any way possible as long as it can maintain it’s hometown feel.  A place where you can trust your neighbor, leave your car door unlocked, feel safe anywhere and anytime of day, etc. 

TSP: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

JG: My first boss Ron Schlagel told me, “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, you’ll find a way to spend it all.” … I choose to be happy with a modest lifestyle and work to live within my means. 

TSP: What is the best advice you’ve passed along to someone?  

JG: I love to share the above advice that Ron shared with me. I also like to encourage those that I interact with to travel. … Seeing how others live and experience life can really help bring perspective to your current situation.

Parish constantly seeks next challenge, pushes students to do same

SHERIDAN — Lindsay Parish loves a challenge.

That’s why she loves teaching math, challenging her students to solve various problems and fall in love with the subject like she did. That’s why she learned how to ski and rock climb while earning her undergraduate degree in math education at the University of Wyoming. That’s why she started and sponsored the Outdoors Club at Sheridan High School and enjoys outdoor activities every season, refusing to let the occasional injury slow her active lifestyle. Most recently, that’s why she pursued a master’s degree in middle-level math education and accepted a position with Big Horn Middle School.

“I love to learn,” Parish, 30, said. “I love to get better at what I’m doing. I love being an educator — it has brought me a lot of joy. … And, if I’m asking my students to learn new and challenging things, I want to continue to learn and do challenging things myself.”

A Cheyenne native, Parish grew up surrounded by friends, family and mentors who pushed her to try new things and credits her early-life experiences outdoors and with math for developing her passion for both. After graduating from the University of Wyoming she taught high school math in Anchorage, Alaska, with her high school sweetheart-turned husband.

Familiar with the Bighorn Mountains, Parish and her husband were eager to move to Sheridan and teach. In 2018, the Parishes started the Outdoors Club at Sheridan High School, which partners with the Wyoming Wilderness Association for funding and support.

Her love of learning and tackling new challenges drives Parish to encourage her students to do the same — with the Outdoors Club, Parish regularly takes students to the Bighorns to rock climb, ski and mountain bike. The opportunity to help students find their “niche” outdoors as well as form a relationship with high-schoolers outside the classroom reminds Parish why she loves her job.

“I like the variety [of being outdoors],” Parish said. “And that’s why I like teaching too because it changes every year. You meet new students and get to work with them and so, it just is a new change every time, and I like that.”

Fellow Sheridan High School math teachers Isaac VanDyke and Haley Valentine see Parish’s adventurous spirit manifest itself in her willingness to try different ways of teaching her students and staying active. Valentine said her students often ask if they can visit neighboring Mrs. Parish’s room, and VanDyke pointed to Parish overcoming the adversity of a knee injury to bike across Iowa as a show of Parish’s character.

“She offers solutions instead of complaining about things,” VanDyke said. “She really wants to focus on the kids, and when you’re focusing on the kids, it’s really easy to work with someone. She’s super fun to work with, witty and hilarious.”

Parish also serves as a steward with the Provision Fund, an organization which oversees donations from patrons, or community members of Sheridan County, and allocates them to early childhood education, elderly and senior care and parks and recreation services. Her involvement as one of 10 stewards has further opened Parish’s eyes to the problem-solving and opportunity-creating nature of Sheridanites.

“She is a person who brings a lot of fun and challenge and adventure to both Sheridan High School and the community,” VanDyke said. “And that is what young people in our town and community need to see, and she is like Sheridan, Wyoming, to an extent. You see that in her actions, activities and personality.”

While Parish motivates her peers, the Provision Fund, teaching in Sheridan County and sponsoring the Outdoors Club has inspired Parish to continue to face and overcome challenges in the Sheridan community.

“Because Sheridan is a small town, you can be and need to be involved with anything you want to see happen,” Parish said. “You have to be a part of it. If you want a specific club or resource, you can be an integral part of developing it, which is a cool opportunity and a responsibility.”

Taylor Kelting aims to be consistent after unprecedented year of success

SHERIDAN — Recently Taylor Kelting’s head coaching career has featured more ups than downs. The Sheridan High School head track and field coach led the boys indoor track and field team to a state championship threepeat in February — the first in the state of Wyoming — and just coached the Broncs to an outdoor track and field 4A state championship in May — Sheridan’s first since 1959. 

His historic seasons led the Wyoming Coaches Association to name him its boys indoor track and field Coach of the Year as well as its 4A outdoor boys track and field Coach of the Year.

But, upon reflection, Kelting counts his downs with his ups as memorable moments. 

“The ups are always going to be fun, and you’re going to have those special moments with those special individuals,” Kelting said, “but those down times when I’ve really struggled, I feel like those have shaped me into who I am.”

A Gillette native, Kelting teaches physical education at Sheridan Junior High School and highlighted how his coaching makes him a better educator and vice versa.

“He has had such a huge impact on the youth in this community,” Sheridan High School Activities Director Don Julian said. “... As both a teacher and a coach, he’s so transformational. He’s good enough at [his job] and builds those relationships and transforms those kids into wanting to be a part of [the track program].”

The Sheridan Press caught up with Kelting, 32, to discuss his recent success and career in Sheridan.

The Sheridan Press: If you had to sum up your time in Sheridan, how would you?

Taylor Kelting: Oh gosh — a phenomenal, life-long experience when I’ve learned everything I know in just the last six years about teaching and coaching and being a good person and building great relationships with my coworkers and my kids. The support that Sheridan has is phenomenal, and they allow you to develop an excellent program that is not only a team but is more of a family. 

TSP: How do you think your teaching experience affects your coaching experience and your coaching experience affects your teaching experience?

TK: I get an opportunity to work with these kids from the time they’re sixth-graders to when they’re seniors in high school, so that’s pretty special. You get to see them grow from kids to teenagers to young adults and get them ready for that next step in their lives.

If you’re a good coach, you’re a good teacher and I hope I’m able to do that both in the classroom and out on the track on a daily basis, and try to be better each and every day. 

TSP: To what do you attribute your success?

TK: I’ve always been lucky enough and fortunate enough to be surrounded by great people, and I try to absorb as much as I can on a daily basis. I feel like no matter how good or how much you need to improve, you can always learn. You can always watch great people work, and it gets you to that next level in your life. 

TSP: How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

TK: The first thing is I always try to build a safe environment where the kids feel like they can have as much fun and where they feel they can be themselves. I want the kids to be able to trust me, so that’s the next step — building that trust. Third is just focus on those individuals and get them to be the best athletes and people they possibly can be.

If they have those three intangibles in their life, they’re going to do as well as they possibly can do. Each kid is going to be different, and each kid is going to improve in different leaps and bounds but, as long as they feel like they can trust me and feel comfortable around me and know I’m there for them, I feel like I’m doing my job.

TSP: How is that similar or different from your teaching philosophy? 

TK: In the teaching realm, every kid is different. Some kids love P.E. and some kids don’t want to be in P.E., but I want them to feel like they can come and move and find something they can do for the rest of their life because physical fitness is so critical to maintaining a great life. 

I want them to find something they’re interested in, so that’s our main goal each and every year — is get those kids hooked on something they enjoy and understand the importance of being healthy.

TSP: How would you describe your relationship with the people of Sheridan?

TK: I’ve just really enjoyed their love for what our program has become, and they support every one of us. I’m a quiet guy, and I don’t spend a lot of time out in the community other than working in the classroom and in the gym and spending time with their kids on the track, but I’ve loved everything they’ve embraced. 

There’s always support. They’re always watching what we’re doing, and they love their kids and they want the best people being able to raise those kids, not only when they’re at home, but when they’re in school and in their sports. So, I’ve really cherished that.

TSP: What are your goals for the future?

TK: To continue to get better each and every day. I think that’s my main goal. There’s always those product goals you can try to achieve, but I just want to continue to be a better teacher and be a better coach and, most of all, be a better person and help these kids be the best people they can possibly be and be consistent with that.

That’s the main thing — being consistent in my life, consistent in my teaching and consistent in my coaching, and I think that will go a long way in my future.

Markham wouldn’t trade 'heart work' with Uprising for anything
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SHERIDAN — When Terri Markham found out her nonprofit Uprising received a sizable grant to continue the organization’s goals of raising awareness about human trafficking and exploitation and expanding prevention education efforts, her daughter posed a question.

“If you got $1 million, mom, would you quit your job?” Markham, 36, said her daughter asked.

Markham’s husband has joked in the past that he would quit his job if he won the lottery, but even if Markham became the recipient of a sizable windfall, she said she can’t imagine stopping what she calls “heart work.” Working at nonprofits since she was 18 years old, San Antonio, Texas, native Markham brought her desire to impact and educate others to Sheridan in 2018.

Compass Center for Families Executive Director Susan Carr served as a mentor to Markham as she started Uprising, and their relationship has morphed into more of a friendship. Carr said Markham has gained confidence as Uprising has reached certain milestones, but Markham’s passion remains unwavering.

“She’s impressive across the board,” Carr said. “She is kind, thoughtful, creative, smart and passionate about everything she does. … She brings so much to the table.”

The Sheridan Press recently sat down with Markham to talk about her work with Uprising.

The Sheridan Press: How did you get into this work in Wyoming?

Terri Markham: When I moved to Wyoming, my work was ingrained in me at this point. I couldn’t not have those conversations with the people around me, and I quickly realized that there wasn’t too many conversations happening about human trafficking in Wyoming.

I had realized also I had moved to the state that was literally dead last in the U.S. to enact statewide human trafficking laws. With Wyoming, there’s not as much awareness as other places and, at that point, I couldn’t not do anything. It was like, “I have to do something.” It’s just been something I’ve always been passionate about.

TSP: How did starting Uprising come about?

TM: … We tried really hard not to duplicate any services that were already out there being offered because there’s a lot of amazing nonprofits in our area. Instead, we try to work hand-in-hand with them and do whatever we can to supplement for the people they’re already serving with our exploitation prevention and awareness we do.

We often talk about this idea of “getting upstream” because [what] if we’re only addressing the problem at the bottom of the stream where it’s already happened or midstream where some people are getting sucked into it? Maybe we can help some but we can’t help them all, so what can we do to get even further upstream to stop it from even becoming a thing? Because that’s where we feel like we can make the biggest difference when it comes to exploitation. We are focused exclusively in awareness and prevention, which is really unique.

TSP: What has it been like working in the Sheridan community?

TM: Really unique in the best way possible. … Sheridan County is really interesting in the way they really embrace the nonprofit community here. I feel like it’s the heart of the community. We have whole organizations, like the [Center for a Vital Community] help nonprofits thrive. And that is not a thing that is common where you go.

I feel like we just have a ton of cheerleaders. There’s tons of help. A lot of nonprofits here are not territorial. We get together and share things about what each other are doing and try to give each other ideas. … That just makes what we do really nice to do in Sheridan County.

TSP: What are your goals for the future?

TM: Our biggest and most immediate goal is statewide, youth prevention in Wyoming. One of the really hopeful things about doing this work in Wyoming is our total population is around [580,000] people. … So that’s nothing. We could go from being the last state to enact statewide trafficking laws to one of the first states to say, “We have statewide prevention coverage.”

… Eventually, I’d like to see youth in Wyoming get access to exploitation prevention earlier and more often.

TSP: Upon reflection — you started nonprofit work when you were 18 — now twice as long later, what do you think of your work?

TM: I love what I do, and I care about it. And this work needs to happen everywhere, even in Wyoming. For me, what’s important is building something that impacts the state in a positive way that is going to last and even outlast me.

… I want to build something where I know it’s going to become important and people are going to be here and pick up that work. But hopefully I’ll be doing it for a really, really long time.

Driven to excellence
Principal works to increase student success in Tongue River Valley

DAYTON — Colby Lynch wasn’t planning on being a principal. That wasn’t the plan for the Iowa-born 39-year-old Dayton resident.

No, instead he planned to follow a path similar to his father, Pat, a retired teacher and coach.

“I never considered it,” said Lynch, who grew up in Buffalo. After graduating from Black Hills State University, Lynch accepted a teaching position at Rock Springs High School, where he also served as a football and wrestling coach. He was later promoted to assistant principal and activities director.

In 2018, Lynch was able to move his family closer to his relatives by accepting the position of principal at Tongue River High School. His wife, Shae, also accepted a job teaching at Tongue River Elementary School in Ranchester.

“Dayton is just what we ordered,” Lynch said. “It’s been an amazing thing to be able to get together with family more often. This is the best place to work, the best place to live.”

Courtesy photo 

Colby Lynch

Lynch brings his experience as a coach to his job at TRHS, looking to bring a team that’s focused on success — in this case, student success.

“Being a principal is like being a head coach,” Lynch said. “What we’ve done well as a team is work collaboratively. It’s all about premier academics and excellence in all endeavors.”

Under Lynch’s leadership, according to state testing standards, the high school has gone from “not meeting expectations” in 2017-18 to “meeting expectations” the following year, a jump of two levels.

“We’ve had some of the best ACT scores since 2015-16,” he added. “We’re definitely on the trend where we want to be.”

It hasn’t just been success in the classroom, either. Recently, TRHS has celebrated state championships in girls and boys cross-country, girls track and FFA.

“All endeavors,” Lynch repeated. “We want to kick butt in everything we do here.

“Let’s fight. Let’s keep going.”

Lynch’s focus and dedication to excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“He’s very driven,” said Pete Kilbride, Sheridan County School District 1 superintendent. “He has a passion about kids and education, and makes sure our kids have every chance to be successful.

“I think you want that in everyone,” he continued.

According to Kilbride, Lynch is not only driven in the pursuit of excellence for himself but seeks the best out of students, staff and teachers at TRHS. Lynch’s passion is also what Kilbride believes could help propel the principal’s career to even loftier heights.

“I think the sky’s the limit with Colby in education,” he said.

Lynch isn’t necessarily worried about his trajectory, though. He’s more focused on student success at TRHS through program’s like Plan B, an initiative to help students plan for goals, either college or a career, after high school.

“One year at a time,” Lynch said. “We’ve implemented a lot of our system. … We got our play book in. Like any coach, you then want to run those plays better and better.”

Shatto attributes relationship-focused approach to teaching, coaching success

SHERIDAN — When a Sheridan High School Bronc takes the wrestling mat at home or on the road, head coach Tyson Shatto typically sits with his elbows on his knees, cupping his hands around his mouth when he gives advice to his athletes. Following a match win or loss, Shatto will hop up from his folding chair and might demonstrate a move to the Bronc or manipulate the wrestler’s stance before clapping the athlete on the back.

The willingness Shatto, 38, has to spar with his wrestlers, his appreciation for athletes in every weight class and his focus on building relationships with his physical education students and athletes alike has endeared him to his coworkers and wrestling team. 

“A lot of the time, you do your best coaching at the end of your career, and that’s how it should be,” Sheridan High School Activities Director Don Julian said. “That doesn’t always happen with educators and coaches, and it’s really valuable [Shatto] continues to press himself to improve, and not just as a technician but in building relationships with the kids.” 

“I love Tyson,” Sheridan graduate and former Bronc wrestler Hayden Hastings said. “... And he’s able to reach most, if not all, of the athletes who have wrestled for him.”

Shatto attributes his most recent success — an undefeated regular wrestling season in 2020-21, 4A East regional championship, two 4A state champions and two All-Americans — to the relationships he builds within Sheridan’s wrestling program and community. 

“The thing to me that has been steadfast is just the relationships you build with kids,” Shatto said. “Just having fun with [wrestling], and the enjoyment of it and the camaraderie that comes with it. It’s about the passion, and the men you’re building.”

Shatto grew up in the self-described “country” in Douglas and used sports to stay busy while his parents, both business owners, worked. An active child, Shatto played football, basketball and baseball, as well as wrestling and running track and field, saying he loved any kind of competition when he was younger. Ultimately, Shatto chose to pursue wrestling seriously in eighth grade and earned a scholarship to the University of Wyoming after high school.

Throughout his five years as a Cowboy, Shatto made sure he was the hardest worker in the room. His parents’ work ethic and conscientiousness influenced the way he approached competition and practice — Shatto learned more from losing and didn’t let his victories or defeats affect his dedication to improvement. 

While wrestling for UW, Shatto earned a physical education degree and began his teaching and coaching career in Wheatland after college graduation. Shatto credits his college professors and coaches with his early success, as he prioritized making students and athletes feel comfortable while building relationships with the high schoolers. 

“Relationships are the most important thing,” Shatto said. “And how they compete, how they treat each other and how they feel.”

After five years with the Wheatland Bulldogs, Shatto and his wife, Jami, moved to Sheridan where he worked at Sheridan Junior High School for three years before moving to the high school and its wrestling program.

Since 2013, Shatto has coached the Broncs to two top-three finishes at the 4A State Championship meet and helped his wrestlers secure 10 individual titles. The head coach has also led four wrestlers to earn All-American status — 2014 Sheridan graduate Cody Delk and 2017 graduate Hastings earned two All-American titles each, and most recent graduates Hayden Crow and Reese Osborne joined the elite group in AprilHastings wrestled for the Cowboys, like Shatto, and just graduated from the University of Wyoming. The All-American said Shatto regularly called him to check in and pointed to his Sheridan coach as influential to his growth as a wrestler. 

“I specifically remember Tyson and I wrestling all the time and sparring to see where he could fix my technique within the moves he was teaching,” Hastings said. “He does very well at explaining what you’re doing wrong.” 

Julian has seen Shatto replicate the relationship he has with Hastings with 106-pound freshmen wrestlers to 285-pound senior wrestlers — Shatto’s appreciation for every athlete roots itself in his passion for the sport. A collegiate wrestler himself, Julian said Shatto is the best technician of the sport he’s seen because the head coach “teaches by the numbers,” or teaches different moves step-by-step.

For the past eight senior nights now, Julian has listened to and sometimes read testimonials from Sheridan’s wrestling seniors. The Broncs recall their favorite memories and often express gratitude for their family’s support and, according to Julian, 99% of seniors thank Shatto, too.

“The hardware, the accolades the kids have got over the years — to me, the most important thing is just, at the end of the day, is that the relationship is built and they’ve reached the potential I believe that they could,” Shatto said, “both as wrestlers and as people — that’s ultimately what you’re looking for.” 

Shatto approaches his PE classes with the same vigor and dedication, wanting his students to feel as comfortable in the gym and classroom as his wrestlers do on the mat. As a coach, teacher, husband and father, Shatto hopes to continue to learn and grow, while watching both his blood family and Sheridan wrestling family succeed.


Bernard consistently reaches for excellence, gives back

DAYTON — Chris Bernard figured out a lot of things at an early age. Instead of attending college after high school, he skirted right into the workforce, learning skills that would later lead him to owning his own business — Ace Builders — where he builds custom homes and establishes subdivisions. He gives back to his community in a plethora of ways, including coaching youth sports leagues and serving on Dayton Town Council after a stint with Ranchester Town Council years earlier. 

People who’ve worked with him see him as forward-thinking. 

“He was always very conscientious when he was on (Ranchester Town) Council,” Ranchester Mayor Peter Clark said of Bernard. “...He’s somewhat of a visionary.”

Bernard headed up a townhome project in Ranchester, helping create the city codes that, before his project, did not exist. 

Since then, Bernard’s taken his home in the Tongue River Valley to another level, securing both small towns as solid bedroom communities for Sheridan, as he continues to build subdivisions and custom homes for customers of his main business. 

While building encompasses a lot of his life now, he’s learned to balance his work with volunteering as coach of his three children’s sports interests and volunteering with the Dayton Fire-Rescue Department. He claims his big secret to time management is completely avoiding all social media. He tried LinkedIn awhile back but quickly lost interest and canceled his account. 

He shares the same insight in building code rules and regulations and budget balancing on Dayton Town Council as he did in Ranchester. 

“I didn’t (run) because I wanted to be a councilman again,” Bernard said. “A town is a business and should be run like a business.

“If I make a mistake it costs me money. If you make a mistake as a council member or mayor, you’re hurting the customers who are the townspeople. It’s been an exciting six months, but I’ve been going to the council meetings there for two years.”

Bernard, at 24, was out on his own and considered himself a risk-taker. In initial reflection on what advice he’d give his younger self, he said take risks and don’t let fear control you. Upon further reflection at now-40, he responded, “Always own your mistakes. Never be afraid to apologize. Never regret a choice or failure, learn from them and move on. Not to act or make a decision IS making a decision.”

Despite the sage advice, he’s proud of what he’s accomplished and the life he built from scratch, much like his business. 

“For me, it’s stepping back every day and seeing progress,” Bernard said. “And we’re always doing something different. My biggest advice is find something you love to do. 

“And I don’t want to quote something stupid like, ‘Find something you love to do, you never work a day in your life.’ Well, eh, it’s still work. It’s still hot and sweaty and you’re out framing and you’re hot and sweaty and it’s 100 degrees out. It’s also people who succeed are people who take risks. If you don’t take risks, you never succeed.”

Outside of work and volunteering, Bernard loves to hunt, enjoying time with his family — which includes his wife and three children, one 19-year-old girl and 16- and 11-year-old boys — and alone on the mountain. Since his children are older, he’s enjoyed investing time in giving back to the community after focusing on raising his children with his wife. He’s eager to take his 16-year-old son elk hunting for his first time. 

Not claiming to have been born a natural leader, Bernard worked his way up and hand-crafted what leadership means to him. 

Pearce uses fitness to better others — and herself

SHERIDAN — Desiree Pearce hated physical education class growing up. She ditched it any chance she could, which is now hilarious considering her current role as the health and wellness director at the Sheridan County YMCA.

“My old PE teacher comes in and always says, ‘Wow, I never thought this is what you’d be doing,’” Pearce said. “I would skip all the time because I’m not athletic. If there’s a ball involved, I’m not good at it.”

Pearce has been at the Y for almost 12 years in a variety of roles. She often volunteers, most notably with the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run, and she serves on the nursing advisory board at Sheridan College.

Basically, she stays busy.

Her life revolves around people and fitness, and there’s often crossover. But even that is a little bit of a change from her childhood.

Pearce grew up 50 minutes from Sheridan in the Bighorn Mountains. There were four houses and she and her brother, Josh, were two of four kids in the area. Her graduating class at Tongue River High School included approximately 60 students.

“It was easy to not know anybody,” Pearce said. “... I liked people. I just didn’t know how much I thrived around people.”

Pearce claims to be a “total people person” but still a “complete introvert.” That almost stopped her Y career before it really got started.

While co-teaching her first group fitness class, she was incredibly nervous. She’d never been in front of a class like that before and had never even participated in a fitness course. She said she freaked herself out.

But 30 minutes in, once the music started blaring and she realized she was helping people, her thoughts changed. She loved it.

“I’m very musically driven, and I think it was just the motivation of the music and watching all the people and just being in a healthy environment knowing this is for the good,” Pearce said. “It’s not for myself. It’s for other people. It’s fun. There aren’t too many places you can make people sweat and sore and have them still come back and enjoy.”

Now, Pearce has taught thousands of sessions. She said she probably has a reputation for leading difficult classes.

“But gently,” she added with a laugh. “I’m not a drill sergeant. I don’t make anybody do anything they don’t want to because I want them to come back. I want them to enjoy their time here.”

Jen Covolo, one of Pearce’s best friends, can attest to that. She’s taught many classes with Pearce at the Y.

“I like to remind her that she is what a leader should be,” Covolo said. “She’s fulfilled when she lifts people up. She has a heart of gold.”

When walking around the Y, Pearce seemingly knows everyone, greeting the few hundred patrons a day with a smile. Because she’s an introvert, it’s one of the things she’s pushed herself to get better at. She practices what she preaches.

“Always strive to be better,” Pearce said. “Don’t be a victim of your circumstances. Growing up on the mountain, I could’ve just been some introverted person who didn’t want to do anything. Once I opened myself up, I found what I really enjoyed.”

Shanor combines passions of photography, filmmaking with snowmobiling

BIG HORN — Sheridan native Jeff Shanor was just 20 years old when he started his own business.

Now, the 23-year-old continues to run Sled Wyoming — a backcountry snowmobile guiding company — while producing freelance photography and filmmaking work.

“He’s just an extremely determined young guy,” said Shawn Parker, the executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism where Shanor formerly worked. “He spends countless hours honing his craft and style.”

The Sheridan Press caught up with Shanor to find out how the two gigs feed into each other.

The Sheridan Press: Why did you start Sled Wyoming?

Jeff Shanor: I’ve always been kind of entrepreneurial. My mom is my inspiration. She started her own business, and she’s the first person who ever showed me how to work hard. I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I didn’t want to be a doctor. I didn’t want to work for someone. I wanted to do my own thing.

TSP: Did you always want to do this growing up?

JS: I always wanted to be a pro snowmobiler. My dad got me into it when I was 3 years old, so I grew up on a snowmobile. Snowmobiling is how I got into camera stuff, too. I watched YouTube videos of professional riders. I love snowmobile movies, and that’s, like, all I watched as a kid. I knew I wanted to do something with snowmobiling. Unfortunately, snowmobiling is only a seasonal thing, so I had to figure out what to do with the rest of my time. 

TSP: So what’s your main hustle?

JS: My main hustle is going to be photography because it’s not seasonal and it pays a little better. All the money I make with Sled Wyoming, I put right back into the business.

TSP: Was it difficult to start up Sled Wyoming and build it from scratch?

JS: It wasn’t too difficult, but it was one of those things where no one is going to teach you how to do it. You have to figure it out as you go. I was just a kid. How am I going to know how to start an application with the federal government? Because you have to get permitted to operate on Bighorn National Forest land. And that’s not something you can really Google … Then, you have to promote it. You have to get the word out there. That’s where creating content comes in handy.

TSP: How great was that realization of “I’m onto something with this business?”

JS: It was awesome. I keep getting that feeling, and I keep trying to reach that. It’s such a confidence booster in life. I think everyone goes through a point in their life when they’re looking for what they want to do. That little hint of success, if you can leverage that and run with it, go for it. It takes just one time to be successful. You can fail so many times, but it only takes one time for success. I remember, people would ask me, “So what do you do for a living?” I used to be unsure. Now, I’m confident that I can own it. Like, “I’m a professional snowmobiler.” Three years ago, if you were to ask me what I was, I probably wouldn’t have said that.

Jonathan Broersma knows his why
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CLEARMONT — Jonathan Broersma’s students can tell when he’s eager about teaching a certain subject. His voice gives it away.

“I do get excited sometimes,” Broersma said. “The kids will tell me, ‘Mr. B, your voice is getting higher again. We know you’re excited about this. But calm down a little bit.’”

Broersma teaches fifth and sixth grade and assists with technology support at Arvada-Clearmont K-12 School. He also serves as an elder at Cornerstone Community Church and helps out with children’s church and junior high/senior high church group, Grounded.

He said he loves seeing children grow as students and people and tries to boost them toward that growth at school, church or with his own four children.

Originally from Fresno, California, Broersma moved to Sheridan five years ago. He taught at Highland Park Elementary School for a year before transferring to Arvada-Clearmont K-12 School.

“Jonathan hasn’t told me ‘no’ yet when we come across the board of trying to do something,” Sheridan County School District 3 Superintendent Charles Auzqui said of the 37-year-old. “If it’s good for kids, he’s for it … He’s an example of what a master teacher is. It isn’t about a degree. It’s about what you do with the kids, and he definitely exemplifies master teacher.”

Broersma has a clearly defined “why” when it comes to teaching.

“I love seeing students succeed,” Broersma said. “I can be a great male influence for these kids. I want them to be model citizens in the community. I want them to be achievers. I want them to be critical thinkers and effective communicators.”

Outside of school, his whys are his family and his faith.

His classroom is decorated with posters and mottos orienting him and his class toward their respective whys.

One reads, “Discipline equals freedom.”

“If you have the discipline to work hard at something you’re working at, then you have the freedom to do whatever you need to afterward,” Broersma said.

Another says, “100% of my students will grow this year.”

“That’s a goal I have for myself,” Broersma said. “And if they don’t grow, well, that’s where I need to take ownership myself and see what happened or how did it go wrong.”

At the beginning of every school day, Broersma tells his students one thing: Today is the most important day of your life. Some kids scoff. Others get tired of him saying it. But Broersma feels like there are always a few who buy in.

“Today is the most important day of your life because you have two ways you can go,” he said. “You can go the way of hard work and discipline, taking ownership, integrity, working to be an achiever, using kind words, thinking about the things you say, being a friend. Or you can go the opposite way — not working your hardest and being lazy and just doing enough to get by and not growing.”

He tries to choose Option No. 1 every day. It’s something he can get excited about.

Luke Sander’s world revolves around nature, people

SHERIDAN — When Luke Sander was 14, he had to make money to pay off a snowmobile loan.

He got a summer job at a plant nursery.

“I worked at a nursery growing stuff, and now, I kill stuff,” Sander joked.

Sander is the supervisor at Sheridan County Weed and Pest, where he’s worked for 12 years. The Jackson native is also involved with the Sheridan County Travel and Tourism Board and founded Off The Grid Outdoors — a snowmobile guiding and coaching business in the Bighorn Mountains — 10 years ago.

“His professionalism and his ability to deal with people on a personal level is, I think, the key to Luke’s success,” said Slade Franklin, the weed and pest coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

The Sheridan Press sat down with Sander to learn more about his roles.

The Sheridan Press: What drew you to Sheridan?

Luke Sander: It was the best town I could find with decent snow that was close enough to go snowmobiling. I had to be somewhere I could snowmobile.

TSP: When did you get into snowmobiling?

LS: I was 4 years old. My family got me involved, and it just kind of continued ever since. It was a fun thing, and then I came here and decided, well, let’s see if I can make a business out of it. I was always pretty good at it, and I wanted to teach others how to improve their skills and show them some of the backcountry and other things they wouldn’t get to see all the time.

TSP: What’s your favorite part of Off The Grid Outdoors?

LS: Seeing people improve and be proud of themselves. A theme I have with everything is teaching people how to help themselves. It makes me happy, whether it’s teaching people how to take better care of their land or spray weeds or identify grasshoppers or operate snowmobiles.

TSP: What brought you to Sheridan County Weed and Pest?

LS: I wanted to be able to put some of my knowledge to work. Before, I was always doing stuff for companies for hire. I wanted to be able to manage projects and have my fingers into the big-picture part of it. That interested me here, where there are so many different aspects and different things you can do here to try to improve. It was a fun challenge.

TSP: If asked 20 years ago, what did you think you’d be doing now?

LS: Totally something on the mountain with wildlife. I got a degree in wildlife management and wanted to be a game warden or work for the Forest Service. Somehow impacting wildlife was always my goal. But now, I impact wildlife on a different level because we’re creating and improving habitat for them.

TSP: What’s a typical day look like for you?

LS: It’s a good challenge because we have a ridiculous amount of programs and we cover the entire country. We’ve got 30,000 people on 1.6 million acres, and there are three of us full time. So it’s trying to figure out how to manage all these projects.

TSP: Covering all those people and acres, that sounds incredibly challenging.

LS: Oh, yeah, it’s overwhelming. That’s part of the fun. It’s super challenging to try to get it all done and not screw any of it up. I thrive under pressure.

Power to heal
Hattervig shares insights into healing through vulnerability

SHERIDAN — Mo Hattervig has experienced several life-changing moments. The first, at a young age, she realized bad things could happen to people like her, when her brother was killed in a T-bone collision when he was 16. 

Another was when she decided to transform her health by exchanging cigarettes and a sedentary lifestyle for the Cross-Fit gym. 

Arguably the largest change, though, happened when she learned the benefit of vulnerability. 

That vulnerability transformed into a passion in helping others open up through therapy and counseling, which she does more-than full time as an adult court supervised treatment therapist and self-named private practice counseling office. 

Hattervig’s husband, Jess, remains proud of his wife and her ability to accomplish everything she sets her mind to completing. 

“I’m so proud of her,” Jess Hattervig said. “When she commits to something, she delivers. Anyone that she gets to work with, they’re lucky to have her because of what she’s able to do for them.”

The 39-year-old professional, body-building wife of Jess Hattervig and mother of 14-year-old Evan and 8-year-old Ava, shared her life experiences with The Sheridan Press recently. 

The Sheridan Press: What transformations have you seen through your two therapist jobs?

Mo Hattervig: The (adult court supervised treatment) is a year long, so I get to work with them for a year, and they’re court-ordered, so probation and the judge and I’m the therapy part. We’re all coming together to help someone live a better life. 

I’m very relationship-based, so when I first meet them, I want to get to know them. Teach me who they are, where they’ve come from and then where they would like to go. Then we just really identify what their barriers are, whether it’s past trauma, which is usually what it is. Addiction is the coping skill. All of my clients know they’re amazing people. ...I personally think it’s a gift that they get to have intense therapy for a year for $75 a month. They get to take time out of their day to go to therapy, which is not something people normally do because it takes time and costs money, and healing is very vulnerable and scary. 

TSP: With everything that you do — two counseling jobs, body-building competitions, parenting, etc. — how have you found balance in your life?

MH: I learned balance when I was a case manager at Volunteers of America Northern Rockies. I would tell clients when they came to me saying, ‘I’m struggling,’ when they went off campus and worked and would come to me. The answer was always balance and self-care. 

I’m always checking in on myself every day. We’re always out of whack because life is a lot to juggle. I tend to overdo it; that is one thing I’m always trying to work on. Sometimes I’m like, ‘OK, you’re a little overwhelmed. What can we take off your plate?’

Really checking your priorities and seeing what you’re focused on. 

TSP: What’s your best advice to your younger self, looking back?

MH: I think that I would tell myself to heal and move forward in life with intention. I think that sometimes we just go...you get caught up in what society tells us we should be or how much money we should make, and I think there’s value in really listening to ourselves, because God gave us all those tools and senses. And very much so, God has a plan. Trust it. Because that is the only reason I am sane today.  There’s a peace about my journey in life that I have because I know that’s the plan God had me on. Of course there’s ups and down, but knowing even in hard times...he makes everything beautiful in time.

Adams finds passions in people, connections

SHERIDAN — A self-proclaimed safety nut with a genuine interest in and care for people, Nichole Adams has pushed herself at work, earning the human resources manager position at Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center. She’s also pushed herself to lose more than 70 pounds in a year, not to mention leading the charge for her family to do the same, having lost a collective 300 pounds in that same amount of time. 

A team player and go-getter, Adams’ former boss and current mentor Heather Doke, city of Sheridan human resources director, said Adams’ is fabulous to work with “obviously.” 

“She’s very teachable and willing to learn and jump into anything to help,” Doke said of Adams. “...She really cares about people and cares about her job and wants to do a good job.”

The Sheridan Press recently sat down with Adams, who shared her accumulated knowledge as a 34-year-old manager.

The Sheridan Press: What led you to accept a position as HR manager at Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center?

Nichole Adams: I wasn’t really looking, but the gal that previously had the manager position at Northern Wyoming Mental Health was retiring and I saw some kind of posting somewhere and reached out to her, and she told me to apply. I did and I transitioned there. 

I never worked in health care before, so that was a huge learning curve, and it still is. I’ve been there for three years and I’m still learning what they do there. It’s very complicated, and a lot of regulations, but I enjoy it and it’s fun.

I’ve never worked with so many master’s level professionals...I’ve always worked with blue-collar workers, so it was a transition. I enjoy it, and we’ve done a lot since I’ve been there. 

TSP: What are some of the elements of culture you look for in a job as a professional?

NA: I’ve done presentations on generations in the workplace, and I’m always like, ‘Don’t make me that person,’ but I’m truly, in the sense, a millennial when it comes to that. 

I do look for places that give me purpose and that I feel like I’m making a difference. I’m not somebody that can just be task-oriented; I want to know why I’m doing things; I want the big picture, which is not just millennials anymore. Many people want to have the bigger meaning behind their work. So, that’s something when I’m at an organization I want to understand what their big picture is and how I’m actually going to contribute to it. 

I try when we recruit and engage with our current staff to present that to them so they know what that looks like and they can connect the dots and see so it really makes sense for them. 

TSP: Before taking on the large task of HR manager for NWYMHC and as a non-Sheridan native, you were actively involved in the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Sheridan County and several initiatives within the city of Sheridan. What’s your advice to others looking to become more involved in Sheridan that may not know where to begin?

NA: I really leaned into the people at my workplace. I had the most amazing supervisor with Heather, so I just had to ask her, ‘What do you think?’

The way the Chamber and other organizations put information out there is super helpful, because we were Chamber members, so I’d just get newsletters where I’d see people around town and I’d ask them. It’s so easy, but just asking people if you’re interested can be pretty hard, especially getting started, and I’m not usually one to go find something. But I wanted to feel connected, and I could tell people in the community were connected, it wasn’t like you had to have been here to feel included. 

When I went through (Leadership Sheridan County), it’s really about connecting you with the community and understanding what resources are available. That program was...a great way for people to connect. 

Rawlings settles in community that raised her, gives back

DAYTON — Sarah Rawlings isn’t a new young face around Sheridan. The 25-year-old grew up in the Tongue River Valley, sported a basketball jersey for Sheridan College and now works as an engineer for WWC Engineering while remaining just as active as she was before returning to her hometown after college. 

Rawlings attended Sheridan College knowing this was her chance to play college ball, as she knew her small stature at 5 feet, 4 inches didn’t bode well for a Division II basketball team. Her focus at the time she transferred to the South Dakota School of Mines was engineering, anyway, as she earned degrees in civil and environmental engineering. 

The dual-degree earned her an entry-level engineering position with WWC, and after one year in the field, she is already impressing her coworkers. 

“She’s been a super valuable person on our team,” WWC Engineering Civil Department Manager Jeff Barron said. “She’s adept and has a variety of engineering skills. I don’t know if we’ve given her a project she’s been unable to understand.”

Barron said Rawlings asks the right questions and completes anything thrown at her. 

A lot of that can-do attitude and teamwork skill, Rawlings believes, comes from her time as an athlete. She’s noticed employers love when she brings up her experience playing sports, as it breeds understanding of teamwork in a strong way. 

“When you’re looking for a job, everyone appreciates you already have that experience working on a team, being a leader,” Rawlings said. “It helped me find a job and be marketable.”

She continues to participate in sports, but in a more leisurely capacity. Not that her competitive edge disappears or her lack of try diminishes, but now instead of it being her full-time job, she can enjoy it as a break from her actual full-time job. Rawlings, this summer alone, actively participates on co-ed competitive and leisure softball teams in addition to playing Black Mountain Soccer with her now-husband Justin Rohrer, whom she met while at Sheridan College, where he played soccer. She also competes in volleyball and basketball through the Sheridan Recreation District throughout the year. While outgoing and adventurous, Rawlings’ self-described quirk is she balances that with being organized and nerdy, truly enjoying working in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — profession and balancing that with other activities.

“I can turn (my engineering brain) off and go have fun outside of work,” Rawlings said. 

Rawlings also gives back to the sports community by coaching fourth- and fifth-grade recreation basketball traveling teams and volunteers for The Food Group. She appreciates working for WWC, which sponsors hockey events and contributes equally to community causes. Between the positive culture and her ability to strive for higher positions — she pushed back studying and taking her next certification test for engineering until after her wedding June 26 — Rawlings gladly chose to move back to her hometown and join WWC as a solid career option. Her bright personality falls in line with WWC’s culture, too. 

File photo | The Sheridan Press 

Campers look on as Tongue River High School graduate and former Sheridan College basketball player Sarah Rawlings scores a basket during a drill at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome in 2014. Rawlings returned to the Tongue River Valley after graduating college to work as an engineer for WWC Engineering.

“If she’s had a bad day, I’ve never seen it,” Barron said. “She’s a real genuine person that’s an excitement to be with.”

Christie Edwards considering new volunteer activities
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SHERIDAN — Since September 2020, Christie Edwards has been the face of Sheridan’s municipal court — entering citations, preparing the docket and processing defendants as they leave court.

Edwards’ new job as clerk of municipal court continues a dedication to public service she previously displayed over four years in the city’s customer service department, according to Sheridan City Administrator Stuart McRae. But that passion for her community doesn’t just come through during the workday, according to McRae.

“What may be less known about Christie is her support of the children in our community and the ways in which she volunteers her time — even as a busy mom with two little boys of her own,” McRae said. 

Edwards, a 38-year-old Sheridan native, has donated her time to local organizations focusing on making Sheridan a better place to live for children.

“Even when I was high school and junior high age, I felt like helping out in the community was a passion for me,” Edwards said. “But as a mom and wife, I have to be able to juggle my home life as well. That’s why organizations like the Jaycees and Kiwanis appeal to me, because I can get my kids involved with me. Their involvement motivates me.”

Edwards was an active member of the Jaycees for four years, serving as a board member for two. She has also been involved with the organization’s Christmas shopping tour for underprivileged children for six years and assists with the organization’s safe trick-or-treating event on Halloween.

Edwards has also assisted with the Kiwanis’ Stars of Tomorrow competition in various capacities — from working as a backstage hand to judging performers.

As she approaches the 40-year-old age limit for membership in the Jaycees, Edwards is considering other volunteer opportunities including working with Rooted in Wyoming, which builds and nurtures school and community gardens.

“I try to find something I have a passion in, which usually involves helping kids in some capacity,” Edwards said. “When I see them light up, it makes me feel good.  It makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”

When not working and volunteering, Edwards trains for triathlons and enjoys spending time in the mountains with her family. She admits her schedule can be hectic at times, but she loves everything she does.

Edwards encourages those hoping to make a difference in Sheridan to find their own passions and to leverage those passions to make a difference in the community.

“The best thing I can say is find something you love and figure out how it helps others,” Edwards said. “I love my children so helping other children is a big deal for me. Whatever it is for you, it’s important to feel passionate about what you’re doing. Never do it just to look good on a resume. Find something you love to do and do it with your friends. 

“That’s something you’ll never regret.”

After 15 years with PD, Hill remains committed to service

SHERIDAN — Lt. James Hill joined the Sheridan Police Department in September 2006. It was his first job out of college.

As he approaches his 15th anniversary with SPD, Hill’s contributions to the department and the Sheridan community are exemplary, according to Sheridan City Administrator Stuart McRae. Hill currently leads the department’s support services bureau and has served the community as public information officer; member of the child and adult protection teams; and member of the city abatement team. He has also supervised numerous major investigations.

“James proved himself to be extremely competent both technically and tactically early on in his career,” McRae said. “James has been at the forefront of change and has been at the spearhead of the department’s efforts to improve service to the community.”

Calling from Billings days after the birth of his daughter, the 37-year-old Hill took a few minutes to reflect on his time in Sheridan.

The Sheridan Press: September will be your 15-year anniversary with the police department. What are some of the things you are most proud of?

James Hill: I think I’m most proud of the way the department continues to progress in its culture. I like to think I helped us become a more service-oriented and professional department. I think we have worked hard to make that professionalism a part of the core culture in the department. We want to be good at what we do and develop relationships with community partners who help us get even better.

TSP: One department program you spearheaded was the Intimate Partner Violence Protection program. Tell us about that.

JH: It was spurred by the idea that, in Sheridan, a lot of the violent crime is domestic violence, specifically violence in romantic relationships or ex-romantic relationships. So I started doing research for evidence-backed programs that lowered those crime rates.

The program is a tiered approach to intervention. When an officer gets called to a verbal domestic issue, he has pamphlets he can hand out to both parties with a list of resources ranging from substance abuse treatment to counseling. If there is an actual incident of physical violence, the officer will go into the detention center and deliver a face-to-face message on the penalties for violence and what Wyoming law looks like. We let them know we will not tolerate this in Sheridan. And we also talk to the victims and provide them with practical resources they can use.

TSP: What other initiatives have you led?

JH: Another one I’m really proud of involves updates to our hiring process. Most police departments ask general police scenario questions —  how officers would react in a certain situation. But we are trying to hire value-driven people who will forward our mission. So we ask questions that get people to show their values. A lot of this job can be taught, but good character and values aren’t something we can really instill. So we want to make sure our hires have that solid foundation. We can build them up from there.

TSP: What advice would you give to other young people hoping to make a difference in Sheridan?

JH: Be where you can do the most good. If there’s something the last year has taught us, it is that we need everybody in our society. If you are putting bread on the grocery store shelves, you are doing just as much good as I am. You just need to find the best way for you to give back.