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Fairbanks man honored for volunteer work

January 5, 2019

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Clark Milne learned to love volunteer work while growing up in Illinois, and he credits the Boy Scouts of America with teaching him the lifelong lesson of helping others.

Now, Milne is being honored for his volunteer work by the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, which presented Milne its 2019 George Nehrbas Volunteer of the Year award in December.

Despite his outgoing and sociable demeanor, Milne gets choked up and humble when talking about his 40-plus years donating time.

“It got brought home this year: they’ve outed me as a volunteer,” he chuckled.

Outed indeed.

In an online post announcing Milne as the award’s recipient, the chamber stated that “Clark seldom calls attention to his efforts, rather working diligently, thoroughly and quietly to effect positive change for each organization, for Fairbanks, and frequently for Alaska.”

Milne suspects the chamber chose him thanks to his 37 years serving on the chamber’s transportation committee, a post for which he’s exceptionally qualified, with master’s degrees from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in civil and environmental engineering, and an engineering career of nearly 45 years.

Milne’s career is largely due to his love of math, and math plays a huge role in his volunteerism.

For 33 years Milne has volunteered locally for Mathcounts, a national program designed to improve math skills in middle schoolers across the United States, with local, state and nation-wide competitions.

Milne prefers the role of coach, but he’s also served as state coordinator six times; and Mathcounts is his favorite organization to volunteer for.

“It’s having kids be encouraged so they wrap up their middle school and they go into high school galvanized to study in STEM,” Milne said, adding it’s “absolutely magnificent when kids get it.”

Aside from Mathcounts and the chamber’s transportation committee, the list of organizations Milne supports or has supported is extensive: multiple engineering societies, the borough’s platting board, the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Zion Luther Church, Lathrop High School Parent-Teachers Association, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Air Quality Stakeholder Group, Greenstar, Northern Chapter of Retired Public Employees, Alaska Mining Association and more.

The Alaska Mining Association in March bestowed Milne with its Golden Heart Service Award to honor his advocacy work for mining.

Milne’s work history is equally extensive, and includes awards from the Alaska Society for Professional Engineers for Young Engineer of the Year in 1986 and Engineer of the Year in 1994.

As always, Milne’s love for math plays a central role. At Osher he teaches Mathcounts for Seniors, a course to help seniors learn useful math skills. “It’s just a simplification of what’s going on,” he said.

When it comes to simple, Milne’s favorite math skills are elementary: multiplication, division, percentages, probability, odds, etc. Anything that makes people “less likely to be fooled.”

Of course, Milne’s work history has required him to use advanced math, such as when he was the Northern Region maintenance engineer at the Alaska Department of Transportation, or most recently as a senior project manager at the engineering firm DOWL.

But now, Milne is “semi-retired.” He spends more time with grandchildren, fishing and traveling with his wife, whom he thanks repeatedly for her support and understanding through all his commitments.

At age 67, Milne said he might start cutting back on the number of organizations he’s involved with, while at the same time redirecting more energy into Mathcounts.

Even if you don’t see Milne or hear his name, expect him to still be behind the scenes somewhere, helping others in his free time.

“It enriches your life, as well as being a boon to the people you’re helping. There’s always something that needs to be done ... This community is really fun for volunteers,” he said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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