She’s blazing a trail

JBER youth’s trail work earns top award


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Collette Ohotnicky poses for a photo in front of a guide post dedicated to the construction of her Upper Otter Lake Nature Trail. Ohotnicky is a member of the American Heritage Girls which is a Judeo-Christian organization dedicated to molding and shaping young women into upstanding individuals.

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Ty-Rico Lea

Collette Ohotnicky has proven her mettle to JBER residents by organizing the construction of the Upper Otter Lake Nature Trail.

This trail was constructed to provide residents with a path to traverse the north side of base and take in all of JBER’s scenery.

Ohotnicky expressed enthusiasm about the idea to construct a path at an early age. Her fascination came from the many hours she spent outside observing nature.

“I’ve had the idea for this project ever since I developed an interest in nature and wildlife at an early age,” Ohotnicky said.

The nature trail project spanned four months beginning in September 2012.

The trail features plaques with facts concerning animals native to the area, foliage along the trail and information on the trail’s construction. It stretches an approximate distance of three quarters of a mile and is available to everyone who has access to JBER.

Ohotnicky is a senior member of the American Heritage Girls association.

According to www.ahgonline.org, this organization was started to mold young women into mature adults using the concepts of teamwork, leadership and the values of volunteerism, similar to the Girl Scouts of the USA.

The American Heritage Girls was founded in 1995 in West Chester, Ohio, by a group of parents wanting a wholesome program for their daughters.

These parents were disillusioned with the increasing secular focus of existing organizations for girls.

They wanted a Judeo-Christian-focused organization for their daughters and believed other parents were looking for the same for their daughters.

American Heritage Girls is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.

The organization offers badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences to its members.

It serves to build young women of integrity and faith.

It also broadens girls’ social development through various extra-curricular activities.

This program of character-building has successfully served thousands of girls since its inception.

“My words of encouragement to aspiring American Heritage Girls are that as long as you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” Ohotnicky said.

Collette has received various acknowledgments for her duties as a scout.

But one award which stands out amongst all others is known as the Stars and Stripes award, which recognizes a youth’s ability to coordinate and orchestrate a large-scale project using their knowledge and expertise.

Ohotnicky is the first Alaskan to ever receive it, the highest recognition in American Heritage Girls.

The award incorporates badge work, religious award recognition, service and leadership.

“This award takes a lot of hard work, and may take a few years to achieve,” Ohotnicky said.

Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Ohotnicky, Alaskan Command deputy chief of staff and Collette’s father, said he was happy to hear of her success.

“I’m quite proud of Collette as I know her mother is too,” Lt. Col. Ohotnicky said. “I always knew that if she were to put her mind to something she would be rewarded for it and receive great praise and recognition.”

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