Recognizing Civilians

Van Powroznik, Family and MWR Outdoor Recreation assistant.

Position: Outdoor Recreation assistant.

Hometown: Prince George County

Length of time in federal service, at current position, and if you served in the military: “I am going on my 13th year with MWR at Fort Lee. I have spent most of that time here at Outdoor Recreation and the Sports Office. Before that, I was at Fort Bragg, N.C., overseeing the Smith Lake Campground and Recreation Area.”

Duties: “I primarily think up, plan and facilitate all kinds of recreation programs. They include mountain biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, water-ski school, stand-up paddle boarding, paintball, archery, snowboarding/skiing, scenic boat tours and others. I also help run our recreational shooting ranges and do the purchasing for Outdoor Rec., as well as the Hideaway, which we took over last summer.”

Nicest thing a customer ever said about or to you: “We receive many ICE comments and positive feedback, but last year one interaction with a customer really stood out. After our last kayak outing of the summer, I had a customer come up to me, shake my hand, and simply say ‘Thank you.’  He told me it had been a few years since he was healthy enough to get outside and enjoy these kinds of activities, and he seemed very grateful for the experiences he had with us over the summer. That meant a lot to be able to provide that kind of opportunity and help someone get back outside doing things they love.”

One of your biggest career accomplishments: “Last year, I applied and was selected to be the new Recreation Specialist/Program Manager for Outdoor Recreation. Unfortunately, the position was later eliminated.”

The aspect of your job that challenges you most: “I would say being inside doing trainings and other clerical work for programs is what is more difficult for me. I don’t have a lot of patience learning new things on the computer and by late winter/early spring I am ready to get back outside and start programming.”

What you love most about your job: “No day is the same. Priorities and tasks change throughout the year depending on what programs we are executing. Therefore, the equipment and gear we need to acquire or work on is constantly changing.”

One life-changing moment: “A few years ago (as I was first getting into whitewater), I had a bad experience I was almost certain I was not going to make it out of. I was kayaking on a local river that was running extremely high at the time. I made it through the first couple of rapids but not the last one. I flipped and got pulled under and immediately grabbed the handle on my kayak skirt so I could swim out of the boat. Then, I was unable to surface. For about 30 seconds, I was being recirculated in the rapid. Finally, it spat me out and I resurfaced down-river a-ways. It certainly gave me a new respect for the sport and the river.”

Favorite pastime: “I would have to say paddling and hunting are my two favorite pastimes. I have even been able to combine the two more since I started hunting waterfowl. Wakeboarding and snowboarding also are close favorites.”

Describe your personality: “I am an adrenaline junkie. I don’t sit still very well, and I am always looking for the next fun, challenging thing to do.”

Who do you admire most? “I admire my dad more than anyone. The man is a living legend who has done it all and seen it all. From being a professional water-skier, hang-glider pilot, big-game hunter, etc., I have gained a lot of knowledge and skill from him and still continue to do so.”

Biggest pet peeve: “People chewing with their mouth open. You know who you are.”

The talent you’d most like to have: “I wish I was more talented in wilderness survival skills. In college, I did a course called “Wilderness Institute” where we had to live in the woods for 30 days. It was extremely challenging both mentally and physically. I’d like to expand those skills and see how primitive I could really live.”

The celebrity or historical figure you’d most like to meet and why: “I think I would like to meet Travis Pastrana. He’s an all-around action sports icon. I think we would get along pretty well.”

Favorite quote or saying: “My dad always said, ‘If you’re going to be stupid, you got to be tough.’”

What would surprise people to know about you? “I actually like cooking. I like to experiment with new wild game recipes for deer, geese, ducks and whatever else I can harvest.”

If you could do anything, anywhere right now, what would that be? “Right now, I am supposed to be in Hawaii with my sister hiking the Napali Coast Trail on the north shore of Kauai. We unfortunately had to cancel due to the Coronavirus.”

If you won the lottery today: “I would probably pay my parents’ house off and buy myself too many motorcycles. I don’t think I would quit my job though. I would take a lot of (leave without pay) because there are adventures to be had on new continents, but my job gives me a sense of purpose, and I think we all need that.”

Your future plans: “I honestly don’t know. I like it here but also love Utah and traveling in general. I’ll stick around here for a while and see what transpires, but you never know when you may get a wild hair and look for something new. All I know is that I won’t be sitting behind a desk.”