Christen Skaer Leadership Award

The Kansas State Animal Response Team Volunteer Leadership Award

Started in 2015 by KSSART founder, Dr Christen Skaer, this award annually recognizes the animal response team volunteer who has shown outstanding achievement, commitment, leadership and education in preparing people and their pets for a disaster, tireless dedication to strengthening animal response teams in Kansas, and/or their dedication responding after a disaster.”   

This award has been developed to inspire others to not only meet the challenge of being prepared themselves, but to educate others in their community to do the same.  Educating your community or responding in a time of crisis can save lives and help everyone more quickly return to a normal life.  Whether a natural or man made disaster, the number one reason people refuse to evacuate their homes during an emergency is that they do not want to leave their pet behind.  Pets with a plan can save lives!

Animal response team volunteers make the difference!   Thank you!

Award Recipients

2018 – Sarah Ball

Sarah began as a volunteer in the Northeast Region in 2016 and almost immediately agreed to assume the role of volunteer coordinator for the region. Shortly after she took another big leap (which seems to be her style) and took on the role of Regional liaison.  Sarah deployed with the team to support the residents of Manhattan during the fall flooding in 2018 and again deployed to support the multi-deployments in May/June of 2019.  Sarah is an active, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer.  Thank you Sarah for your spirit and compassion.

2017 – Tami Johnson

Tami served as the South East Regional Animal Response Team Liaison.  In 2016 she agreed to take the reins and work with the small but mighty group of original volunteers to explore this team’s possibilities.  The team made great progress in a short period of time, including conducting the first Train Today Respond Tomorrow Workshop in spring 2017 which added 31 trained disaster responders to the regional team.  If that wasn’t enough, Tami then applied for an ASPCA grant which resulted in a CAMET for south east Kansas.  Tami believes in networking and attends LEPC, KEMA and Healthcare Coalition Meetings in south east Kansas when she can.  In 2017 the team the team worked with a couple local animal groups to conduct both a Small Animal and Large Animal Handling clinic last year.  Tami now serves on the Kansas State Animal Response Team board as the partnerships committee chair.  Thank you Tami for your hard work, vision, and dedication!

jennifer burns


2016 – Jennifer Burns

Jennifer served as the South Central Regional Animal Response Team Liaison.  In 2016 Jennifer managed a regional project that brought a new pilot training program to Wichita, Train Today Respond Tomorrow.  She lead the project team to a very successful first attempt at recruiting and training new animal disaster responder volunteers, bringing in 42 NEW Volunteers to the South Central Region.  Jennifer didn’t stop there, she is participated on project team that in 2017 implemented the TTRT program across additional regions.   Jennifer is also an animal control officer in Newton, KS.  Thanks goes to Jennifer for all her hard work and dedication to animals as a volunteer and as a part of her job!

Janell Jessup (left) - 2015 Christen Skaer Leadership Award Recipient

2015 – Janell Jessup

Janell served over 788 volunteer hours between August 31, 2014 and September 1, 2015.  She is the first recipient of this award.  Thank you for your hard work and dedication.



Volunteers helping people through animal disaster education, planning, and response.