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Hillman Nominated for Newcastle 2007 Person of the Year

    by Lesley Collins
Vi Hillman at work in Newcastle.
CASPER, Wyo. -  Viola Hillman moved to Newcastle, Wyo. in 2006 and was warmly welcomed into the small community. This January, she found out how much her work as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Newcastle Field Office Manager has made a difference. Hillman was named as one of the honorable mentions for Newcastle 2007 Person of the Year.

“We are very proud of Vi,” noted Wyoming BLM Director Bob Bennett. “She is a great employee and has been a valuable asset to our Wyoming Management Team.”

Newcastle, a town of 3,272 people, is located in Northeastern Wyoming near the border with South Dakota. Newcastle is known as the “Western Gateway to the Black Hills.” Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Deadwood, South Dakota and the Black Hills are just a few of the attractions near Newcastle.

According to Bob Bonnar, editor of Newcastle’s News Letter Journal, the selection process for person of the year is pretty informal. People in the community are asked to nominate individuals and Bonnar read several nominations for Vi Hillman.

“I am personally very impressed with Vi. I think she has been a valuable asset to the community. Vi has been more active and visible in the community than anybody else who has occupied her position in recent memory, and I think she'll be a difference-maker in this community as long as she decides to call it home,” noted Bonnar.

“I was really surprised and honored to be nominated for the Person of the Year award,” noted Hillman. “Newcastle is really a great community.”

Hillman is an active member of the local Cambria and Newcastle Lions Clubs and the Weston County Health Services Board which has helped with the hospital’s capital campaign. She has brought 17 years of BLM experience to the community including an extensive background in fire management.

She recently completed the BLM Leadership Program which required her to complete a leadership project. Hillman produced public service announcements promoting public lands, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, and the Continental Divide Trails. The announcements can be viewed online at: www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2007/july/NR_07_03.html.

She began her career with the BLM as a seasonal employee in 1978 and worked 14 seasons at the Salt Lake Field Office. Hillman had been the state lead for several fire programs at the Utah State Office between 1997 and 2006. She worked as an interagency fire program manager for the Forest Service Intermountain Regional Office and the BLM Utah State Office between 2003 and 2006. Hillman has also been actively involved in a committee to reorganize BLM offices in Wyoming.

Hillman completed a temporary detail assignment as the Associate Field Manager at the Richfield Field Office in Utah in fall 2006. She has served several detail assignments at the Washington Office for the BLM and Forest Service. She completed the Continuing Ecosystem and Fuels Management graduate programs sponsored by Colorado State University, Utah State University, and University of Northern Arizona in 2005.

She has a Master's Degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education. She was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah and Weber State University between 1991 and 1998. Prior to attending graduate school, Hillman taught eight years at the high school level. She enjoys riding her Harley, fly fishing, reading, and spending time at her cabin in Island Park, Idaho.

Last updated: 06-05-2008