by Barb Hameister

Staff Snapshot: Dawn Montano

When Dawn Montano arrived in Fairbanks in August of 1995, she had no intention of staying.

She hadn’t really wanted to come at all, but her parents didn’t want her sister, who had just gotten a teaching job in Fairbanks, to face the long drive north from Idaho on her own. Dawn dutifully went along on the trip and then helped her sister get settled during the fall, fully expecting to be back home by Christmas. But when she was offered a job that she really enjoyed, and soon after met her husband-to-be, she decided to stay—and Fairbanks has been home ever since.

Dawn at Skiland
Dawn (left) at Skiland with her daughters.

Growing up on a small farm in southeast Idaho in the shadow of the majestic Tetons, Dawn spent a lot of time outdoors. Horseback riding and hiking were frequent family activities. She especially loved skiing and Grand Targhee, the famous alpine ski resort just over the border in Wyoming, was her “home slope.”

Dawn attended a private college in Idaho to study health science, thinking she might want to be a nurse someday. She also got interested in graphic design, took a few courses, and found she had a knack for it. In Fairbanks she worked as a graphic designer until her daughters were born and continued freelancing from home while they were young.

For the past nine years Dawn has worked for Alaska Sea Grant. As the ASG bookstore manager, she processes and ships orders and manages inventory and billing. Dawn employs her graphic designs skills to create promotional pieces for the bookstore, authors, meetings and the various ASG programs. She also designs and manages email campaigns, and helps with social media and event planning. Her position is shared with UA Press, and she assists them with similar tasks one day a week.

With her helpful, friendly demeanor and can-do attitude, Dawn is a valued friend and colleague to many. Carol Kaynor, who worked with Dawn at ASG for many years, says, “Dawn is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I know. She’s always willing to help, no matter what the task.”

Dawn horseback riding
Dawn and her horse Hershey Bar trail-riding near Ester Dome.

Dawn still loves horses and horseback riding, and shares her enthusiasm as a volunteer with 4-H, Pony Club, and the Fairbanks Competitive Trail Ride. She’s also very involved with the Fairbanks Alpine Ski Club, serving on the board of directors and coaching young skiers. “I enjoy the kids’ enthusiasm and excitement as they speed down the hill and work on their skills.  And I adore listening to their stories while riding up the chairlift or while getting hot chocolate!”

Dawn and her family enjoy traveling, and they try to take one big trip every year. In summer of 2016, while her oldest daughter was in Latvia as an exchange student, they took the opportunity to explore Europe. Dawn says the German state of Bavaria, with its spectacular mountain scenery, was her favorite place to visit.

While Dawn may have been reluctant to come to Fairbanks in the first place, it has turned out to be a good fit for her.  “I love nature and being outside,” she says. “I love living in the woods where I can walk out my back door, jump on my horse and ride for hours. That freedom is really important to me.”

See previous Student Spotlight and Faculty Focus Profiles here.

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