The Juneau Area Federal Executive Board selected Coast Guard employee Susan D. Hargis as the Juneau Area Federal Employee of the Year for 2000. The award was presented to Hargis on Jan. 18, at the Baranof Hotel.
Hargis, a Virginia native, is the Coast Guard's boating safety coordinator for Alaska. She served on active duty with the Coast Guard for eight years, five in Alaska.
"The Coast Guard is what brought me to Alaska," said Hargis. "It took me about six months of living here to decide that this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my life."
As the boating safety coordinator, Hargis is heavily involved in boating programs such as the State of Alaska Boating Safety Bill, and the "Kids Don't Float" program.
Alaska was the last state to adopt a boating safety program. Due in large part to Hargis' efforts, the state passed a boating safety bill last year. The bill qualifies Alaska for its share of federal boating safety funding and provides a vehicle for state boating law enforcement and state recreational vessel registration.
The "Kids Don't Float program lends mostly youth-sized life jackets to the boating public free of charge. Hargis said the "Kids Don't Float" program is among her greatest achievements.
"I'm most proud of the 'Kids Don't Float' program," said Hargis. "We know of at least eight lives that have been saved because of this program. One involved a 13-year-old girl who fell into the water and didn't know how to swim.
Her friend, a 10-year-old boy, also a non-swimmer, grabbed a 'Kids Don't Float' life jacket, paddled out, and saved her life."
Hargis is also involved with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
"Sue supports the Auxiliary program," said Jan Burke, assistant director of Coast Guard's Auxiliary program in Alaska. Burke has worked with Hargis for the past five years.
"She's easy to get along with. Because of her great personality, she has been able to create partnerships between the Auxiliary and state and local agencies, as well as the boating public."
Hargis' long-term goal is to build an infrastructure for the boating safety program with hope of reducing boating fatalities for all types of boaters.