On Nov. 20, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment announced the hiring of Tina Symko for the position of Projects Co-ordinator, the first paid position with the environmental group since its inception 12 years ago.
"Its a small thing, but its huge step for us," says AWARE president Mitch Rhodes. "Were hoping it can relieve, or at least help us make better use of the volunteer commitment to be able to assign some responsibilities to a project co-ordinator."
The AWARE board of directors came up with the idea of hiring a project co-ordinator at a strategic planning session during their 2000 annual general meeting, but was too preoccupied with ongoing projects to actually hire someone. When the group finally put the position out to tender this fall, they received more than 30 applications.
"I think every one of them exceeded our expectations," says Rhodes. "The quality of the people who applied for the position was unbelievable. We had a difficult time narrowing the field down, which is a great problem to have."
Symkos background in resource management and volunteer work on community environmental initiatives won her the position.
As project co-ordinator, Symko will help to ensure that AWARE follows through on projects, and honours its commitments to Whistler. She will also look into fund-raising possibilities that AWARE can tap in to.
"Our goal is to do more, and I think we could achieve that with the help of a part-time position," Rhodes explains. "Hiring Tina was really the first step in a whole range of initiatives we are looking at. Were lucky to have someone of her calibre."
Another responsibility is to make sure there is communication between board members and the various committees under AWARE, and to co-ordinate volunteer efforts within the group, and in co-operation with other groups in the community.
Symko has worked with AWARE as a volunteer in several working committees, including the Valley Bottom Wetlands initiatives and the Whistlers Wilderness Backyard initiative.
Under contract from the municipality, Symko also recently completed the River of Golden Dreams Watershed Management Plan. She was also the co-ordinator of the Crabapple Creek Watershed Management Plan.
She is also involved in the Whistler Sustainability Project.
Before moving to Whistler, Symko was active in environmental organizations such as the Langley Environmental Partners Society, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, and Greenpeace. She has published papers in the field of environmental sustainability, and has a Masters Degree in Resource Management from Simon Fraser University.
Symko will be formally introduced at the next AWARE meeting on Dec. 6 in the Delta Whistler Suites, which will convene at 7 p.m.