Three Rivers Ranger District employees fundraise for local scholarships

By Stacy Walenter

The Three Rivers Employee Association (TREA) held their annual, all-you-can-eat breakfast on Tuesday, April 17 at the Troy United Methodist Church.
Every year, the employees of the Three Rivers Ranger Station participate in two fundraisers: this breakfast and a wreath sale conducted around the holidays. All of the money earned from both endeavors goes to fund scholarships that are awarded to graduating Troy High School seniors.
For over 20 years TREA has offered the scholarship to three or four students. The scholarship and the fundraising activities are separate from the Forest Service and are not government funded in any way, but rather, are completely voluntary. The employees do it solely from a desire to support the community. The employees donate the food and cook the breakfast themselves.
Lisa Osborn, a Forest Service employee for 25 years, manned the door as nearly 65 community members came to feast on pancakes, hash browns, gravy, eggs, sausage, and breakfast burritos.
“Everyone is donating and paying more than we’re asking,” Osborn said.
Laura Jungst, a member of the Natural Resources staff at USFS, took over facilitation of the scholarship this year. Jungst said approximately $300-500 is awarded to each student, depending on the amount of money earned through fundraising. The money is sent directly to the college during the student’s second semester to encourage them to stay in school.
Applications are judged on a student’s academic performance, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. Students must also submit one letter of reference, transcripts, and craft an essay detailing their field of study in college, stressing their goals, objectives, and ambitions for their career.
Jungst also said that employees outside of Troy are brought in to review the applications to keep the decision unbiased. District Ranger Kirsten Kaiser presents the awards at the Troy High School Scholarship Awards program in May.
Each year, TREA enlists the help of Troy High School counselor Kelly Palmer to spread the word. Palmer, as counselor, is responsible for post-secondary school advising and maintains the school’s scholarship website. He personally collects the applications and delivers them to the Three Rivers Ranger Station.
According to Palmer, whose records date back to 1997, the Three Rivers Ranger District has dispersed $21,550 in scholarships to 56 college-bound students from Troy High School.
Recipients of the scholarship have become educators, pharmacists, bankers, environmental advocates, veterinarians, and have entered law enforcement. One is in law school, 11 are current college students, and one graduated from Harvard.
Four of the past beneficiaries went on to work for the Forest Service. One of these is current Three Rivers Ranger District Timber Sale Preparation Technician Ed Sedler.
“The scholarship is a great pat on the back and a good motivator,” Sedler said.
He admits that the scholarship didn’t necessarily lead him to work for the Forest Service, but rather that Three Rivers Ranger Station recruits its seasonal staff from Troy High School’s graduating class.
Students are eligible to continue seasonal jobs every summer when they return home, as long as they maintain their GPA.
The deadline for applications was April 20. Though the breakfast has passed, you can still donate to the scholarship fund by contacting the Three Rivers Ranger District at 295-4693.