Meet the Veteran Workforce Scholarship Recipients

The Veteran Workforce and Education Track Scholarship recipients were announced this week, with a record number of applications and 12 recipients this year.

In partnership with the 10th Mountain Division Foundation, this scholarship program awards active and non-active military members with funding to support education opportunities to support veterans as they pursue a career pathway in the outdoor industry.

Recipients include:

  • Staff Sergeant Benjamin Bell, a Utah Army National Guard Soldier who recently was certified as an Outdoor Emergency Care Technician, plans to volunteer with the Beaver Mountain Ski Patrol as a rookie patroller to solidify his skills and prepare to take the senior patroller test in the future.
  • Jason Cyr of Davis, West Virginia, who, over the course of his 23-year military career, has trained soldiers in his role as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant and coached ski team and cycling athletes. Jason’s education plan and timeline includes attending PSIA Alpine and Telemark Level I and II certification events during the 2022-23 season, and to attend PSIA Alpine and Telemark Level III clinics in the 2023-24 season.
  • Corporal Beau Godbout of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who served multiple tours of duty, including in Kuwait and Afghanistan, plans to use the scholarship to become a nationally registered ski patroller and serve his local community at the Trollhaugen Ski Resort in Wisconsin.
  • Jarrod Deines retired from the US Navy after 26 years as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician and moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, in 2020, where he started cross country skiing with the Crested Butte Nordic Center. His professional goals for this season are to earn his PSIA Cross Country Level I certification and Cross Country Children’s Specialist credential.
  • Lena Freienmuth of North Pole, Alaska, recently transitioned from a 5-year call to active-duty order back to Air Force Reserve, and plans to help teach children’s ski lessons at Ft. Wainwright’s Ski Hill in Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Captain John Fritz of Silverthorne, Colorado, is an Alpine Level I instructor who has worked at Loveland and Copper Mountain Ski Areas, and is working to achieve his Alpine Level II.
  • Retired U.S. Army First Sergeant Zak Ingle of Rapid City, South Dakota, who joined PSIA-AASI last season and earned his Alpine Level I and Children’s Specialist 1 certifications, plans to achieve his Alpine Level II.
  • Army Specialist Alec Kapps, who is currently stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, plans to use his scholarship to achieve his Alpine Level I this season at Beech Mountain, while also continuing to study foreign languages while he is in the Armed Services to instruct a wider range of people.
  • Retired U.S. Navy Director of Operations for Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center Thomas Keefer, who is working with the Mt. Bachelor (Oregon) Ski Patrol, applied for the scholarship to offset some of the costs associated with the two primary courses, Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) and Outdoor Emergency Transportation (OET).
  • Retired Navy Veteran Intelligence Officer Jonathan Major, who was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, while recovering from a knee surgery, has set his sights on earning his AASI Snowboard Level III certification.
  • Retired Airman Evan Ruzanski of Boulder, Colorado, who led two cycling teams to National Collegiate Championships, recently joined PSIA-AASI with the goal of attaining his Level I certification in January 2023, then later attain Level III certification while working full-time as an instructor, trainer, and assessor.
  • Retired Army Corporal Tim Trottier, currently working as a ski instructor at 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort in Washington, is working to achieve his PSIA Alpine Level I & II certifications.

What some recipients are saying about this opportunity:

“Thank you PSIA-AASI and the 10th Mountain Division for your partnership in this veterans scholarship program! I’m truly grateful to be a part of an organization that supports veterans. Being chosen for this scholarship has been a HUGE help in offsetting costs and has allowed me to pursue my educational goals as a ski instructor. Also, thank you to Ski School Director Joe Lowe and all my fellow instructors at Terry Peak. Your support and encouragement has been awesome!” – Zak Ingle

“The Veteran Workforce and Education Track Scholarship further fueled my motivation to complete training to become a better instructor. As a result, I now enjoy alpine skiing even more than I ever imagined.” – Tim Trottier

“After retiring from the Navy, I missed working in small, well-trained teams toward a command mission. I found that ski patrolling filled that void in camaraderie I was feeling. Getting onto patrol is a large time and financial commitment and your PSIA-AASI and National Ski Patrol scholarship was helpful in offsetting the financial costs. This scholarship enabled me to focus solely on the practical and academic aspects of the selection process. Thank you very much.” –  Thomas Keefer

“As I am planning to take the Alpine Level II certification assessment later this season, I definitely want to be as prepared as possible. Receiving this scholarship allowed me to take three days of PSIA prep clinics. My personal thanks to the scholarship committee.” – John Fritz

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