Old houses were always special to Chantal McKenzie, architectural historian and cultural resource specialist with the Texas National Guard. Now they have taken on an even more important role as her love of balancing historic building preservation with sustainability and mission readiness has led to recognition as winner of the fiscal year 2010 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award, Cultural Management, Team or Individual Category.
The Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards represent the highest honors and toughest standards in environmental and sustainability program achievements in the U.S. Army. McKenzie along with winners in eight other categories will go on to compete against winners from the other military services in the Department of Defense Environmental Awards later this year.
"Words cannot express how honored I am to have won this award," said McKenzie. "I am so thankful for having a great manager and working for an organization that recognizes how important it is to find a balance between historic and cultural preservation, and mission operational sensitivity. Winning this award was a team effort and is a tangible indication our organization really cares about sustainability, natural resources and compliance, while preserving our heritage and training our Soldiers."
According to her supervisor, Kristen MtJoy, cultural resource manager, Texas Army National Guard, McKenzie takes a rigorous, hands-on approach to program management that blends project oversight with interoffice coordination, cross-training, communications and attention to cost savings.
"Recent program successes and milestones include assistance with a successful grant project to install solar panels, supervision of a historic landscape study and evaluation report, and completion of extensive permitting and clearance documentation for both historic building rehabilitations and new constructions," said MtJoy.
McKenzie is working on all of these projects while striving to become a cultural resources manager.
"I have always loved old houses, so I began to look at how I could translate my love of old houses into a career," said McKenzie. "I discovered the field of historic preservation and thought this is what I want to do with my life. In 2006, I earned my Masters of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Texas, Austin, and I continue to learn new things on the job every day. That keeps me inspired and motivated."
In addition to numerous other duties, McKenzie recently helped a Texas Army National Guard sustainability manager develop a Department of Defense-wide recruiting video produced by high school and college students interested in filmmaking. The video focused on history, sustainability and ways of bringing the interests of historic preservation together with the need to minimize energy costs and maximize sustainability of precious resources.
"Ms. McKenzie is a highly valued, multi-talented member of our staff and continually demonstrates positive achievement in every aspect of cultural resources management for the Texas National Guard," said Lt. Col. Richard Jordan, Director of Facilities, Texas National Guard. "As our architectural historian and cultural resources specialist, Ms. McKenzie works very hard to develop an innovative program including several major projects critical to our training mission. I have no doubt her accomplishments will stand out as she moves on to represent the Army in the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards."
While she hopes to be recognized in the Secretary of Defense competition, McKenzie is excited by the current recognition and to be a part of the Texas National Guard team.
"I love the diversity and ever-evolving nature of my job," said McKenzie. "No two days are the same.
"I work for a great manager who is allowing me to continue my educational opportunities within cultural resources, along with providing opportunities to learn more about related environmental fields such as sustainability, natural resources and compliance."