- Religious Science Practitioner
- OCEAN luncheon Committee
Robert Wallis has volunteered with VCRS for over 7 years. Robert started recycling when his eldest daughter, a Palmer High School Honors Student Volunteer, introduced him to Teslin Phillips who encouraged Robert to join his daughter as a volunteer in the recycling effort. Robert found the experience to be inspiring and this feeling has only grown stronger over the years. He enjoys volunteering at VCRS as a way to share being positive with others.
Robert is a mental health clinician who works with children and their families. He also serves as a life skills coach for people with Developmental Disabilities.
One of Robert’s most satisfying undertakings is that he is a Religious Science Practitioner and a Sunday school teacher for young children at the Alaska Center for Spiritual Living. Robert has raised 3 daughters and is the proud grandfather of 2 grand-daughters.
Sarah Welton was raised in upstate New York. She went to Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, receiving a BA in Psychology and then lived in Eugene for 8 years before coming to Alaska in 1983. She was a stay-at-home mom for her two children and part-time artist for many years before entering the work force in the early 1990’s. Sarah worked in the community mental health agency in a variety of positions for 10 ½ years.
Sarah completed her Master’s degree from Alaska Pacific University in Counseling Psychology in 1998 and completed her PhD in Psychology in 2014 from Northcentral University, specializing in Organizational Psychology.
She has four vocations that make sure she is never bored and without something to do. She has been in private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor since 2002 and is the owner of Alpha Counseling and Education Services in Wasilla. She is an adjunct professor at Mat Su College; teaching since 2003. Sarah also serves on the local school board completing her 4th term this year. She rounds out her vocational service as an American Baptist minister. She has three grandchildren and loves the role of grandma.
- Valley Church of Christ – deacon responsible for facility expansion
- Northern Lights 300 Sled Dog Race – volunteer
- Iron Dog Snowmobile Race – volunteer
Self-employed as a carpenter, property manager and building designer under the name Mat Su Valley Carpentry, Barry has extensive experience in residential and light commercial construction, as well as computer aided design and modeling. Born in Nebraska, but drawn to the open spaces of Wyoming and Montana as a young adult and finally Alaska, Barry has a passion for anything involved with the back-county. On his Super-Wide-Track snowmachine Barry has broken trail for snowmachine and sled dog races and has hauled freight over the snow for some of Alaska’s bush residents.
After early stints in construction and oil field work, a passion for agriculture and the cowboy life in particular led Barry to a mid-life Bachelors Degree in Farm and Ranch Management and a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wyoming. Shortly after graduating, a move to Alaska shifted the path again in 2000. Even though he has strayed from direct work in economics, Barry says that the college experience and education were a great time in life and a great influence.
The study of economics, essentially studying how people and societies go about allocating scarce resources, along with faith in God, Barry says, inevitably leads one to consider the true costs of living on the planet and the need for sustainable solutions. It also leads to the question, “What can I do?” As part of his personal answer Barry says he welcomes the opportunity to be a small part of the sustainable solution that VCRS offers.
Michele Shapiro – Secretary
- Training for Alcohol Professions instructor (TAP)
- Certified Food Protection Manager Instructor (ServSafe)
- Administrator for Mat-Su CHARR
Michele has enjoyed residency in Wasilla for the past 2 year. She is by no means a “cheechako” however; 35 years living in Alaska qualifies her as a pioneer who sometimes is a bit of a sourdough.
The Valley has won the honor of being chosen her most favorite place in Alaska to live.She takes advantage of living in “farm country” by growing a wide variety of organic food in her green house and raised beds as well as eating fresh eggs from the poultry she raises.
The hospitality industry has been Michele’s passion for many years. Her vast array of experience running hotels, restaurants and bars dates back to the 80’s in Nome. She is currently actively involved with Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) and is formulating an affiliate of CHARR for the Mat-Su Valley (Mat-Su CHARR). She always finds an opportunity to share with hospitality industry members she serves about the money saving opportunities they have by recycling. When teaching classes, Michele not only trains students on responsible alcohol service and food safety, she takes the opportunity to train them about the importance of recycling and the ease in which it can be accomplished at VCRS.
- MEA Bylaws Committee
- MEA Ratepayers
I became actively involved with VCRS in 2004 during the Mat-Su Home Show at the Menard Sports Complex. I was paired with Teslin to “dumpster dive” trash and recycling containers to keep the recyclables sorted. This involved gross stuff I wanted no part of, but Teslin didn’t hesitate or back away. By the end of our shift I had a new appreciation for her commitment. When I learned she was dying of cancer, I questioned my own commitment and dedication. I became a regular volunteer, an active “dumpster diver,” and soon found myself on the Board of Directors.
- First Presbyterian Church of Wasilla, Elder Clerk of Session
- Pioneer of Alaska, Women’s Igloo #11
- Family and Community Education, Mat-Su District
- Northland Pioneer Grange #1
Raised on a small farm in southern Minnesota during the Great Depression, which was followed by WWII. Re-use and recycling were very important during those times both for my family and for the nation, and formed life-long habits. Alaska has been home for 50+ years and the Valley for 36 years.
Wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 3, community volunteer. I am pleased and honored to have had a small part in the huge effort to build a sustainable recycling center here in the Mat-Su Valley.
- Mat-Su College, Professor
- Renewable Energy Advocate
Pete Praetorius is an Associate Professor of Communication at Matanuska-Susitna College. He has a PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University, a Master’s in Professional Communication from Clemson University, and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Whittier College. He lives outside of Palmer with his partner Alys Culhane where they have three horses, three goats, three chickens, and one dog.
- VCRS – OCEAN Fundraising Team, Volunteer Committee
- Vice President, Alaska Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center (AWBRC)
- Board Member, Big Lake Library Advocates
- Educational Presenter and Caretaker, Bird Treatment & Learning Center and Alaska Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
- Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats
- Mat-Su Birders, Nature Conservancy
- World Wildlife FundCertified Master Gardener / Freelance Writer & Editor
Randi relocated to Alaska from the East Coast in 1998, where the rest of her family still thinks she’s completely lost it. She has an extensive background in marketing and public relations, as well as office management, and has worked for both the Big Lake and Palmer Chambers of Commerce as well as several other non-profit organizations. She enjoys coordinating and participating in community events and shares ownership responsibilities of Steve’s Toyo Stove Repair with her husband, Steve Totten.
Ms. Perlman is actively involved in many diverse groups around the Valley, and is proud to be part of the dynamic and hard-working VCRS Board of Directors. She feels a strong commitment to the VCRS mission and has been an avid recycler for over 20 years. Randi & Steve live on Woody Lake in the Big Lake/Houston area with their twin Bernese Mountain Dog / Blue Tick Hound dogs, where they ‘take time to smell the roses’ and many other flowers they have lovingly cultivated and welcome the birds back each spring. She is affectionately known as the “Bird Lady” for the numerous programs she has presented around the State of Alaska with the Great Horned Owl that is housed in her care, and has a soft spot for all birds and animals on the planet [people are OK, too – mostly…].
Paul LaFrance – Member
Paul LaFrance was raised in Palmer, Alaska. He left Alaska for the University of Portland to get a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He then went to the University of Connecticut for a master’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduating, he worked as a consulting engineer in Denver and Portland. In 2003, he moved back to Alaska with his wife, Julie. He currently works as a civil engineer for the Municipality of Anchorage.
Paul enjoys running, hiking, biking, packrafting, and skiing in Alaska. Paul is an avid recycler, beginner gardener and composter, and a strong advocate of renewable energy. The solar panels that Paul and his wife installed generate the majority of their electricity needs. Paul believes in the VCRS mission and is very excited to be a member of the board of directors.
Mollie Boyer – Executive Director
Mollie Boyer was a founding member of the organization and has been committed to the success and longevity of the VCRS recycling program since its conception in 1997. Mollie coordinated the VCRS non-profit corporation and 501(C)3 tax-exempt status.
As executive director Mollie maintains the organization’s vision while creating opportunities for the fulfillment of VCRS’s mission, vision, and goals utilizing the organization’s four adapted strategies. To further the success of VCRS, Mollie has attended numerous workshops and trainings on organizational development, fund development, leadership, marketing, nurturing and keeping volunteers offered by the Foraker Group, the Alaska Conservation Foundation and the Rural Community Assistance Corporation. In addition, Mollie has taken courses at the Mat-Su College on grant writing and business management.