News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

SPRD director honored by National Guard

There is an element that is critical to the success of the National Guard’s mission to maintain units trained and ready to mobilize for war or national emergency — yet it is one that is often hidden.

Employers have to make it workable for employees to serve.

Jennifer Holland, executive director of Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD), did just that for Business Operations Manager Sarah Hyatt last year, and Hyatt made sure she got a proper acknowledgment for it. Last week, the National Guard presented Holland with the Patriot Award.

According to the Guard, “The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed. Patriot Awards are awarded to individual supervisors, not to an entire staff or organization as a whole.”

In nominating Holland for the award, Hyatt noted that she started as SPRD’s business operations manager just as COVID-19 hit last year. The two were left as the only staff running the district. Then Hyatt got called up for active duty fighting fires — with 24 hours’ notice.

“She was very supportive and did everything she could to make sure I didn’t worry about what wasn’t going to be done while I was gone,” Hyatt reported. “She covers all mandatory tasks that have to get done with the district while I am gone, even if it is out of her comfort zone or scope. I couldn’t ask for a better supervisor.”

Sisters resident and retired Brigadier General Jim Cunningham, who commanded the Oregon Air National Guard, presented the award.

He noted that being able to leave employment without worrying about what is or isn’t going to happen is vital to those who serve.

“Critical, really to have that kind of support,” he said. “Psychologically, it’s critical. It speaks volumes about the leadership you are providing.”

Holland noted that she’s a “military brat,” which gives her an appreciation of the support required for military personnel to perform their mission.

“Thank you,” she said. “This is quite an honor.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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