Monday, May 5, 2014

SNRE honors Gasbarro for outstanding volunteerism

Tony Gasbarro was honored May 2 as SNRE's outstanding volunteer.

"We wouldn't have our Peace Corps programs without Tony," said Steve Sparrow, interim SNRE dean and interim AFES director.

Tony Gasbarro, right, was delighted to accept an award for outstanding volunteer efforts. It was presented by SNRE Interim Dean and AFES Interim Director Steve Sparrow.
Gasbarro served 23 years as a forestry professor with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and SNRAS.

He first served as a PC Volunteer in 1962, the year he graduated from Colorado State University. His assignment was the Dominican Republic, where he trained foresters in fire control, timber sales preparation, logging road location and forest measurements.

In 1996, Gasbarro served in the PC again, this time in El Salvador. He's been returning ever since, helping raise funds for community development and education for Salvadorans. In 2003, Gasbarro received the Lillian Carter Award in recognition of this Peace Corps work.

Ten years ago, Gasbarro helped start the Master's International Program at UAF and more recently the Paul G. Coverdell Fellows program. He has worked tirelessly to grow the programs for SNRE, working with Associate Professor Susan Todd. The two programs have grown so much that there is always a waiting list of students wanting to get involved.

Professor Lawrence Duffy said of Gasbarro: "The value of his 40 years relationship with UAF is also apparent to all the faculty members with whom he has interacted. He exemplifies UAF's culture of service to state and nation."

"Tony is one of the most dedicated, passionate individuals I know," said Erin Kelly, UAF's first MIP graduate. "He genuinely cares about the well being of others and does all that he can to help improve the quality of life of all those he encounters. Tony has touched countless lives through his volunteer work in El Salvador and as a professor at UAF. He is an inspiration for so many people. Seeing his numerous acts of compassion has empowered me to always challenge myself, to strive to be a better person and to serve those in need."

"Tony has made a difference in all of our lives," said Oline Lowe, West Valley High School Spanish teacher. "Last summer we were having coffee and a young lady saw Tony and approached him with a big smile. She told him that she was so inspired by his presentation at her high school Spanish class that after she graduated she went to volunteer at an orphanage for the summer and said it was life changing and that she had Tony to thank for inspiring her."

Tony Gasbarro visited Erin Kelly in El Salvador.
UAF alumnas Mary Matthews wrote, "Tony's work and commitment to leaving this world a better place has impacted hundreds of people. He has inspired students in over 400 presentations at schools, universities and community and church groups. He brings the lives of poor children in tropical Central American into the consciousness of kids who wear parkas at recess. And the kids are inspired. Tony envisioned an organizational structure providing continuity and maximum local control. He collaborates with Project Salvador to aid the people of El Salvador in their own system of social justice."

Professor Emeritus Carol E. Lewis (retired SNRAS dean and AFES director) said, "When Tony Gasbarro retired he could have sat back and relaxed. Instead he chose to make a positive difference in a country that desperately needed assistance, to continue educating students and to establish a new program that aligns Peace Corps Volunteers with UAF so that they can earn a master's degree.

"Throughout the years that I have known Tony I have found him to be an excellent representative of our university, our community and our nation."

Susan Todd expressed appreciation for Gasbarro's volunteer efforts and said the PC program enriches UAF. “Our students and faculty say it is the best thing that has happened to our school," she said "It’s a commitment to the betterment of society and not just what’s in it for me.”
“The Peace Corps involvement makes this a stronger university,” Gasbarro said. “It keeps us connected to the rest of the world and makes us not quite so provincial.”

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