News Release 431

Kendra Varns named November 2009 Employee of the Month by Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Volume 37-431 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Philip J. Tremblay
573-751-6510

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, NOV. 16, 2009 --- For her commitment to leading 22 Kansas City 7th grade students through months of bicycle training, preparation and a 225-mile ride on the 2009 Katy Trail Ride, Kendra Varns has been chosen as the November 2009 Employee of the Month by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Varns is a park operations and planning coordinator for the Division of State Parks at the Kansas City Area Office, located at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, in Kansas City.

Varns met every week for several months to ride with the class and prepare them for the Katy Ride. She also arranged for sponsors and gave some very deserving students the chance to experience the Katy Ride.

Varns headed up the "Wheels Can Take You Places" program in cooperation with Scuola Vita Nuova, a public charter school. She conducted bicycle training during and after normal working hours, as weather permitted and the students were available. Some students even had to learn how to ride bicycles.

Working with the school, Varns obtained sponsors to provide bicycles, food and equipment for the ride. Among the sponsors were the Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Parks Association, Expeditionary Learning-Outward Bound, SPRINT, Missouri Department of Conservation, Art of Living Foundation, River Market Cyclery-Kansas City, Mo. and the Missouri Bicycle Federation.

Varns rode with the class for the entire 225 miles, not only participating herself but providing leadership and supervision during the ride, camp-outs and even cleanup.

With the school, Varns helped develop a program that involved the students in maintaining good grades, good behavior, performing community service, promoting physical fitness and finishing up by taking part in the Katy Ride. The bicycles were given to the students who were able to complete this program.

Varns is also involved with Urban Population Outreach Program (UPOP), a Missouri Parks Association program that works with local schools, clubs and organizations to promote outdoor adventures and education in Missouri State Parks. She is also in charge of organizing the Kansas City Wonders of the Outdoor World (WOW) National Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School, which is involved in providing camping and outdoor education opportunities to urban residents. She also works in the department's mentoring project.

Varns started working for DNR as a seasonal aide in May 2005. She also held the position of park operations and planning specialist. She resides in Kansas City, Mo.

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Editor: Photo is available at /newsrel/images/varns-pic-11-09.JPG