CHADRON – Four Chadron State College alumni will be honored during the college’s homecoming Saturday, Oct. 8. The families of Joe and Larry Lytle will be recognized with the Family Tree Award.
The 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient is Keanna Leonard from Grand Island, Nebraska. Leonard, a 1991 graduate with a degree in biology, is the director of education at the Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, Nebraska.
Three graduates of Chadron State College will be receiving the 2016 Distinguished Young Alumni Award. They are Travis O’Gorman, Trevor Schmidt and Corey Staab.
Friday, Oct. 7, the CSC Justice Studies department is hosting a Justice Studies Alumni Forum featuring O’Gorman and Schmidt in Old Admin Room 320 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
After graduating from CSC, Leonard worked for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Grand Island Heritage Zoo. In 2001, Leonard was hired as the director of education for the new education center at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, Nebraska, to develop conservation-based programs.
She is currently responsible for all educational aspects for the center. Each year, over 12,000 people experience the Platte River ecosystem and the crane migration through programs she has developed. Leonard has also conducted numerous workshops and presentations at The Festival of the Cranes in New Mexico, Holiday with the Cranes in Galveston, Texas, and other regional and national events.
Leonard collaborated with illustrator and artist Caryl McHarney in writing a booklet called “The Private Lives of Sandhill Cranes.” She also wrote the introduction to the award-winning children’s book “Have You Seen Mary?” by Jeff Kurus and Michael Forsberg.
In addition to the Distinguished Alumni Award, Leonard has received other awards including the Nebraska Safari Club 2004 Educator of the Year award and the 2012 Tamar Chotzen Audubon Educatorof the YearAward. She is also one of the founding board members of the Nebraska Master Naturalist program and is a retired board member of the Association of Nature Center Administrators.
Leonard lives in Grand Island with her husband, Dennis. They have two adult children and grandchildren.
O’Gorman, a 1999 alumnus with a degree in criminal justice and legal studies from Alliance, Nebraska, is the Judge of the District Court, 12th Judicial District that encompasses 12 counties in the Nebraska Panhandle. He was appointed in 2011.
A native of Central City, Nebraska, O’Gorman earned his Juris Doctorate with highest distinction in 2002. He and his wife, Kim, have three children.
He is a member of the Nebraska Bar Association and was a member of the Nebraska Law Review from 2000 to 2002. From 2002 to 2011 he was employed by the Cline, Williams, Wright, Johnson, and Oldfather law firm in Lincoln, starting as an associate and being promoted to partner in 2009.
O’Gorman was a member of the Chadron State Foundation Board of Trustees in 2011 and a graduate of Leadership Lincoln in 2007. From 2007 to 2011 he was an adjunct teaching legal writing at the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Schmidt, a Chadron native who now lives in Durham, North Carolina, is a trademark and technology lawyer at Hutchison PLLC. He received a degree in physics and legal studies in 2003.
He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2006, with honors. While in law school he was a staff member of the North Carolina Law Review.
Schmidt is married to CSC alumna Anna Henkens and they have two daughters.
After law school, the Schmidts founded the Love Care Center Charitable Trust to continue efforts to support the Love Care Center orphanage in Kanchipuram India, where they worked for two months after Trevor’s graduation from law school.
Schmidt is the head of the Trademark Department at Hutchison PLLC focusing on serving startup and emerging companies in the tech and life sciences field. He has been with the firm since October 2014.
Before joining Hutchison, he worked for two years at an intellectual property litigation boutique, Wood Jackson PLLC, building its trademark practice and working on various litigation matters. From 2007-2012, he was with the law firm of Moore & Van Allen doing trademark and patent prosecution and licensing.
Staab from Spring, Texas, is the vice president of procurement and administration for Kinder Morgan. He received his business administration degree in 1996.
The same year, he joined Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America and has served in various roles in the company before assuming his current position in 2014.
Staab’s responsibilities include leading purchasing, contract management, materials management, facilities, real estate, fleet, security, contractor safety and records and information governance initiatives.
He and his wife, Kristan, have three sons and live in Houston, Texas.
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator