Friday, July 25, 2014

Alumna is surrounded by gold and loving it

With a degree in natural resources management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and 15 years of work experience, Anna Atchison has found her place as the community and government relations manager at Fort Knox Mine.

Anna Atchison conducts a tour of Fort Knox for visitors July 22.
Atchison, who grew up on a homestead at the base of the Talkeetna Mountains, chose NRM because she wanted a human element to her science studies. "As a lifelong Alaskan I knew public policy was going to be part of who we are," she said.

In her years with the School of Natural Resources, Atchison learned about the challenges of managing the state's natural resources. "My classes helped open my mind and helped me become more adaptable," she said. "You have to flexible in managing ecosystems and trails."

Mining was in Atchison's blood as it was a family occupation for some of her relatives. She grew up without electricity or running water and was a tomboy happiest in moose chaps. She is thrilled to be surrounded by big trucks and heavy equipment at Fort Knox. "I finally wound up where I wanted to be, in mining," she said. "I couldn't be happier."

She called her position of the past two years her dream job. "It's exactly what I wanted to do; it's a perfect melding of everything I've done the past 15 years."

What she likes at Fort Knox is that everyone is equal; everyone is held to the same standards. "I love the camaraderie," she said. "The person is valued the most. And when someone tells you they are gong to do something they do it. People are accountable.

"Everyone is tough. They know how to take care of themselves and I love that."

She will travel to Chile this fall to visit another Kinross mine. "We have a corporate responsibility program in all our mines," Atchison explained. "I am looking forward to broadening my professional scope and see what is our social responsibility in other parts of the world and the challenges of mining."

The challenge of her job is the juxtaposition. "I need to be in the community to do my job but when I am there I want to be at the  mine," Atchison said. "I have to balance the community engagement with working at the mine."

She strives to mentor younger professionals and helps SNRE by serving on the Advisory Council. "The university is very different than when I went there," she said. "It's more user friendly and there is a lot of community involvement. I do what I can to support that."

Atchison's primary goal right now is to raise her two children. "My family is number one," she said. "I want my daughters to be strong, smart, confident and kind."

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