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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

PLAINS AREA
COUNCIL OF OFFICE PROFESSIONALS

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Current Members

The current members were instated at the NPACOP Annual Meeting, held in Herndon, Virginia during November 2013. Individual names will link you to their respective biographies.

A list server was created to facilitate communications with the NPA Council members. You may communicate directly to all members by emailing them at NPACOP.

Name

Location

E-mail/Phone

Olga Lee 
Ex-Officio Member

Northern Plains Area Office
Fort Collins, CO

olga.lee@ars.usda.gov  Phone: 970-492-7057
Fax: 970-492-7065

Amber Whittaker
Chair
Poisnous Plant Research Lab
Logan, UT
amber.whittaker@ars.usda.gov
Phone: 435-752-2941 ext1109
Fax: 435-753-5681
Janel Nierman
Technical Advisor
NACOP Representative
U.S. Meat Animal Research Center
Clay Center,
NE
janel.nierman@ars.usda.gov
Phone: 402-762-4110
Fax: 402-762-4111

Tawanna Ross
Webmaster  

Grain Quality & Structure Research Unit,
Manhattan, KS

tawanna.ross@ars.usda.gov
Phone: 785-776-2757
Fax: 785-537-5534

Nicole "Nikki" Herrera 
Media/PR

Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit
Lincoln, NE

nicole.herrera@ars.usda.gov 
Ph: 402-472-1490
Fax: 402-

Diona Austill
New Secretary Coordinator 

 

Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT

tawanna.ross@ars.usda.gov
Phone: (785) 776-2757
Fax: (785) 537-5534

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Biographies



Olga Lee

Secretary to the Area Director
Plains Area
Fort Collins, Colorado

Federal Service: 24 yrs             ARS Service: 24 yrs

Olga’s career with ARS began in 1989 as Secretary to the Sugarbeet Research Unit. In 1991, she was selected as Secretary to the Center Director of the Natural Resources Research Center. When the Center was dissolved in 1995, Olga joined the Area Office staff as Secretary to the Assistant Area Director. In 1997, Olga was appointed to her current position as Secretary to the Area Director of the NPA. She served as the Technical Advisor for the NPA Secretarial Advisory Council from July 1997 through September 2000. Currently she serves as Ex-Officio Member of the PACOP in her capacity as Secretary to the Area Director.  She also serves as the Chair to the Colorado-Wyoming Secretarial Group.

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Amber Whittaker

Secretary to the Research Leader
Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory
1150 E 1400 N
Logan, UT

Federal Service: 12 yrs         ARS Service: 6 yrs

Amber began her federal career with the United States Air Force in July 2001 as an active duty Aerospace Medical Service Craftsman. Following a deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq in 2005 she was diagnosed with a Middle Eastern disease and was medically retired from the Air Force as a Staff Sergeant in January of 2007. Amber began working for ARS as a Secretary to the Research Leader at the Pollinating Insects Research Unit in Logan, UT in May of the same year. Sixteen months later, she requested a transfer to a part-time position as an Office Automation Clerk at the PPRL to focus on her medical treatments and education.

Amber completed the requirements for her Bachelor’s Degree from Utah State University in December 2010 focusing on Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Agriculture. In February 2011 she was promoted to Secretary to the Research Leader at PPRL. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Business Administration online through the Veteran’s Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation program. Amber began her term with PACOP in October 2011.

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Janel Nierman
Secretary to the Center Director
U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, SPUR 18D
Clay Center, Nebraska

Federal Service:  6 yrs           ARS Service:  6 yrs 

 

Janel began her Federal career at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) during the summers while attending Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, as a Human Resource Summer Intern. Following the completion of her BS Degree in Business Administration, she obtained positions in Human Resources in private industry for 6 years and Home Daycare Provider for 6 years. In October 2007, Janel returned to Federal Service at the USDA-ARS U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) as the Secretary to the Research Leader of Environmental Management Research Unit. In April 2010, she was selected to her current position as Secretary to the Center Director of USMARC. She began her term with PACOP in October 2010.

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Tawanna Ross
Secreatary to the Research Leader
Grain Quality & Structure Research Unit
CGAHR
Manhattan KS

Federal Service:  16 years            ARS Service:  16 years

  Tawanna Ross began her career with ARS in February 1998.  She was hired under the STEP program as an Office Automation Clerk in the Administrative Office of the Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, under the supervision of Ms. Jimmie Nell Oliver.  After 15 months, Tawanna was recruited to work as a Biological Science Aid in the Plant Science & Entomology Research Unit, which is located on the Kansas State University campus.  After three years of working under the supervision of Dr. John Fellers, the Unit found themselves comprised of new SY’s and a new RL and in need of a secretary.  Tawanna fulfilled a detail to aid the Unit during their time of need, then followed the detail with another detail of Receptionist at the main Center.  In 2003, Tawanna was hired to the permanent position of Secretary for the Grain Quality & Structure Research Unit in Manhattan, KS.

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Nicole (Nikki) Herrera
Program Support Assistant
Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit
Lincoln, NE

Federal Service: 6 yrs         ARS Service: 1 yr

 

   

Nikki started her government career with the United States Army Reserve in 2002 as an Automated Logistical Specialist.  Following her second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, she started as a Department of Defense civilian in August 2007.  After her last deployment in 2010, she was honorably discharged from the military and decided to pursue her civilian government career and college degree.  She continued working for Department of Defense with the Army ROTC Program at Creighton University in Omaha, NE.

 

Nikki completed the requirements for her Bachelor’s Degree from Grantham University in August 2012 focusing on Business Administration.  In January 2013, she was hired as the Program Support Assistant for the Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit in Lincoln, NE.  She is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration through Grantham University.  Nikki began her term with PACOP in October 2013.

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Diona Austill
Program Support Assistant
Livestock and Range Research Laboratory
Miles City, MT

Federal Service: 26 yrs         ARS Service: 26 yrs

Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in October 1989 when she was transferred over from a Montana Agriculture Experiment Station position she had started in May 1988 at Fort Keogh.  Her first position was as a Clerk/Typist but within a year took the Research Leader Secretary position. In 2005, she was promoted to a Program Support Assistant. In 2004, she finished her BS in Information Technology with an emphasis on web programming through the University of Phoenix online. This is Diona’s second term on the council. During her first term, Diona was the webmaster and then the NACOP representative where she became the Senior Co-Chair. Planning and gaining approval for a NACOP Training Workshop was a major accomplishment during her term.  She is glad to be back serving the area’s office professionals!

Last Modified: 10/16/2014