Assateague Island Announces Annual Award Winners

Assateague Island Announces Annual Award Winners
Assateague Island National Seashore Superintendent Hugh Hawthorne, center is pictured with Safety Award winner Merrit Kramer and Superintendent’s Award winner Lauren Kramer. Submitted Photo

BERLIN — The winners of the annual Assateague Island Superintendent’s Award and the Assateague Island Safety Award were recently announced.

The Superintendent’s Award is given to an employee or employees who have performed “above and beyond” during the previous year. The Safety Award is given to an employee who has made a major contribution to the safety program or the safety culture of the park and is chosen from peer nominations.

The 2023 Assateague Island National Seashore Superintendent’s Award was presented to Lauren Kramer, who serves as the Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist for Assateague Island National Seashore.

This work includes developing and managing spatial data sets that are used for creating digital maps and for other environmental research. She also implements the seashore’s beach and shoreline change monitoring program, that includes collecting field measurements on beach topography as well as the position of the ocean shoreline. This information greatly contributes to an understanding of how Assateague Island moves and changes over time, which allows officials to plan responsibly for the future.

Following the retirement of a former IT specialist in December 2022, Lauren Kramer, despite the job not being part of her position description, provided reliable park-wide IT support to Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) from January to October 2023. In addition to her regular job duties as GIS Specialist, according to AINS representatives, Kramer did an excellent job addressing multiple critical IT functions across the park, including password resets, scanner troubleshooting, updating servers and computers to maintain compliance, re-enabling returning employee’s accounts, responding to emails from NER Regional IT, software installations, remote desktop server and thin client issues, and many others. She worked with Regional IT and neighboring park IT specialists to seek additional guidance to address more complex issues including adding scripts to all four ASIS servers for automatic server reboots for when updates needed to be installed, addressing the fallout from the deployment of security system which resulted in previously approved software and hardware drivers now being blocked from use, worked with Washington IT to get approved software unblocked, worked with Regional and Washington IT to have drivers and software added to NPS Approved Software List, troubleshooting radio system and phone issues, and resuming backups of park data on the HQ Server. Mostly behind the scenes, she basically kept ASIS information technology infrastructure operational so that everyone could do their jobs.

The runner up for the 2023 Superintendent’s award was Bruce D’Alosio. As Park Facility Management Systems Specialist, D’Alosio does much of the behind the scenes work which make major projects possible. D’Alosio has worked tirelessly for the past several years to clean up and completely re-organize the park asset management system. He is an integral part of the facilities division and is involved in the development and execution of every project that the park has created, submitted, funded and completed. His contributions to cost estimation, project scoping, condition assessment, and acquisitions benefit the entire park. He has also taken on additional responsibilities for requisitioning and reporting when there were vacancies in the division, and acts as an on-site project manager for many construction projects.

The 2023 Assateague Island National Seashore Safety Award goes to Merrit Kramer, a biological science technician and is responsible for monitoring water quality conditions and other aquatic resources throughout Assateague Island. Merrit Kramer collects monthly water samples from fixed sites in Sinepuxent and Chincoteague Bays, as well as weekly ocean water samples during the summer months, to document long-term changes to the ecosystem and to protect public health.

Kramer always makes safety her number one priority in her daily work at ASIS. Since she was hired, she has maintained her qualifications as a wilderness first responder. These first responder skills have the potential to benefit all ASIS staff and visitors alike and can be applied not only in the developed area, but those techniques are tantamount when faced with any medical emergency in the back country as well. Some of the tasks Merrit Kramer has accomplished to enhance safety in her work group and across the resource management division include purchasing new and updating existing personal locator beacons, as well as the cleaning and inspecting the division PFDs to insure proper use and storage. Not only are these field safety items important for use throughout the busy summer season, but they could also save a life if staff were to go overboard while working from the boat during the winter months.

Kramer has also taken the lead and prioritized safety in the use and function of the aquatics laboratory. She has removed and disposed of old sampling equipment and eliminated various other clutter throughout the lab to ensure proper equipment storage and safe access. This general housekeeping significantly reduces the probability and risk of common trip/fall hazards. Kramer addressed recent safety audit findings by ensuring that new Material Safety Data Sheets were printed for all chemicals used in the lab and ensured that the Laboratory Safety Manual was reviewed and updated. Kramer also displayed initiative to inspect and replace outdated supplies in the resource divisions First Aid kits and examined the appropriateness of the size and contents of these kits.

Kramer represents the Resource Management Division on the ASIS Safety Committee and regularly attends and comes prepared to each meeting. In this capacity she took a lead role in planning the 2023 Assateague Island Safety Day. Her hard work helped make the event a major success.

The two runners up for the Safety Award are Steven Braun and John Watson. Braun is a Lead Fee Collector and Watson is a Maintenance Mechanic in the Virginia District. Both have made major contributions in improving the safety of their respective workplaces, both for fellow employees and visitors.

The two winners received crystal plaques and a time off award, while the runner ups received time off awards.