Recognizing the contributions of a Difference Maker

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Last Tuesday I awoke with a smile. I knew it was a special day, a day to say thank-you to one of our own—alumnus Garth Weber, VCSU Class of 2012. Garth has dedicated more than 330 volunteer hours to ensure that Medicine Wheel Park endures as a premiere attraction for residents and visitors to Barnes County. So, with a big smile and the childlike excitement of Christmas morning, I joined Larry Robinson, executive director of the VCSU Foundation, and Joe Stickler, professor emeritus and founder of Medicine Wheel Park, to travel to Great River Energy’s plant in Spiritwood—where Garth works as a chemist—to surprise him with the foundation’s Difference Maker Award. We arrived at Spiritwood Station and were greeted by Garth, sporting a big but humble smile. We were escorted into the conference room where his Great River Energy coworkers waited to join in the celebration. Larry began the event by thanking Garth’s colleagues for sharing this important moment with us. He went on to describe Garth as an individual who is constantly giving back in a big way. Garth’s involvement with Medicine Wheel Park dates back to the start of his student days, and a decade later his commitment has not waned. His service to tending the flower beds and other areas of the park has had a positive impact on so many.Garth shared a story that one day his mom was giving him a hard time for spending so much time at Medicine Wheel Park; after all, her flower garden also needed some attention. He explained to his mom that although her flower garden brought her much joy, Medicine Wheel Park was enjoyed by everyone who visited. That, Professor Stickler remarked, is a clear signal of a deep understanding and embodiment of the volunteer spirit.That same spirit of volunteerism led to the creation of the park. In 1992, Professor Stickler and his students began work on Medicine Wheel Park. The project soon expanded beyond the walls of the classroom to involve the community. The park now features two solar calendars: a horizon calendar (the medicine wheel) and a meridian or noontime calendar. Other aspects of this unique 30-acre park include Native American burial mounds, a solar system model, a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail and other woodland trails, several scenic overlooks of the Sheyenne River Valley and Valley City, and the 3,000-square foot perennial flower garden. If you have not been to Medicine Wheel Park recently, I encourage you to take advantage of the weather and visit soon.Larry also thanked Great River Energy for their commitment to communities. Among their many community-support initiatives is a program that pays employees up to 12 hours a year so that they may participate in outside volunteer activities, along with a good-neighbor award which recognizes employees who assist people in their communities during non-business emergencies. Great River Energy also supports the VCSU Foundation’s scholarship fundraising efforts.Garth is the second recipient of the Difference Maker Award, adopted by the foundation to recognize friends of the university who have made significant contributions through dedicated service, promotion, financial support, and/or other efforts. Garth clearly embodies the notion of Difference Maker, and recognizing his commitment to Medicine Wheel Park and Valley City State University is yet another reason why it’s a great day to be a Viking!