February 26, 2004
Chris Budke, a forestry technician and a native of Juneau, is the 2003 recipient of the Hector Gandara Memorial Civil Rights Award.
The annual award recognizes an Alaska Region employee for outstanding dedication, initiative, leadership, and for being an advocate for civil rights issues both in the workplace and the community.
"Chris goes far above and beyond his normal duties as a forestry technician," said Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forest Cole. "He is an outstanding employee and his dedication and positive influence reaches beyond the workplace. He is truly deserving of this recognition."
Budke said he's both honored and surprised to receive the award.
"I don't think of the things I do for other people as anything extraordinary," said Budke, who's worked for the Forest Service for 22 years, including 18 years on the Hoonah Ranger District. "I believe we are all due courtesy, if you will, and respect. So to me, it's a surprise and a little bit of a shock to be recognized for a civil rights award."
Budke's extensive community participation supports one of the primary purposes of the Forest Service in Alaska.
"Supporting Alaska Native communities, like Hoonah, is a top priority for the Forest Service here, and Chris epitomizes that effort," said John Baldwin, Hoonah District ranger. "Chris is truly humble and believes he is just doing what comes naturally to him, but his contributions to the community and his leadership in the workplace is really remarkable. He builds relationships with and serves all people regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability he treats everyone with care and respect."
Budke was born in Juneau and spent most of his youth there, but he also has lived in Ketchikan and Sitka.
His involvement in Hoonah, the largest Tlingit village in Alaska, is far-reaching.
He presents classes to high school students on forest resources. He chaperones weekly youth gatherings through the Community Church. Budke was a Boy Scout leader for Hoonah Troop 49. He also is active in programs that assist elderly citizens.
Budke helps organize the Hoonah Job Fair, Fourth of July events and the community Fishing Week. He also is the principal organizer of the community calendar.
As the local Emergency Medical Technician director, Budke plans and organizes weekly meetings, training courses and responds to emergency calls in Hoonah.
As an active member of the Safety Board in Hoonah, Budke teaches first aid, CPR, cold-water survival, office safety and health, and ATV, boating and aircraft safety. He also plans and organizes safety-training programs for the Hoonah Ranger District. He received the Alaska Region Safety Award in 2002 and 2003.
Closer to home, Budke also participates in the local foster care program, taking care of children as the need arises throughout the year.
"Chris has demonstrated his long-term and continuing commitment through his community involvement and outreaching for Forest Service jobs," said Regional Forester Denny Bschor. "His personal character is well known at the District and community for fairness, honesty, and providing equal opportunity for all people."
According to his co-workers, it is common for local people to come to his office to talk about programs and how the Forest Service can help the community.
"Chris is the person everyone goes to if they have a problem or just need information," said Terry Fiske, Hoonah Ranger District forester. "He is honest, open and truthful. It doesn't matter if he is working as an EMT at 2 o'clock in the morning, if he's helping a co-worker who is having problems with a supervisor, or if someone is just asking for directions. Chris does not look at your skin, color, religion, or cultural background or age - he looks at the person and their abilities."
The award Budke received is named after Hector Gandara, who was an equal employment specialist in the Regional Office in Juneau. While in Juneau, Gandara also served as the Regional Alaska Native Program manager and the Hispanic Employment Program manager. Prior to his tour in Juneau, he was the director of the Young Adult Conservation Corps Camp in Wrangell. The award was created after Gandara's death in 1989.
Source of News Release & Photograph