Our final Senior Mentor Spotlight is with Sheri Lynn Koscielski who works in the Southwestern Ontario region. You will quickly see that for Sheri Lynn FIRST is a family affair with all her children and her husband supporting our community. I think her dog may also get involved in the fun! Read on to hear about Sheri Lynn and her past meeting with a very special member of the FIRST community.
Q: What is your role as a FIRST Senior Mentor (FSM)?
Sheri Lynn: My role as an FSM, is to promote the growth and sustainability of FIRST programs across Southwestern Ontario. I make myself available to support teams, mentors, coaches, volunteers, and alumni in all FIRST programs so they can have the best FIRST experience possible. I work with all FIRST Program partners, staff and other FSM’s to run events, work on new initiatives, help produce virtual Kick-Offs, support teams through all aspects of FIRST and make personal connections with all coaches, to support them however I can. It is surely a different year, with Covid-19 and going virtual, but that has not stopped the FIRST community. We now rely more on emails and video calls instead of in-person team visits and visiting the students to see what they are working on, which I miss, of course. I love attending community events with teams to support and promote the FIRST program to the public. I work with my husband, Larry, to connect with sponsors and create partnerships to support all FIRST programs and events locally and provincially.
Q: What sorts of responsibilities do you have in your role?
In addition to what I have mentioned in the previous question, I make myself available to support teams, mentors, coaches, volunteers, and alumni. I support them with registration, program resources, fundraising ideas, sponsorship, and grant applications, how tos for attending events, and team sustainability. I work with the FIRST Canada Youth Council on developing and executing initiatives they have created. I have taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator for several events, where I enjoy making connections with the volunteers and making sure they have an amazing experience. Before taking on this FSM role, I was and continue to be involved in many other roles with FIRST including being a Committee member of the Windsor Essex FIRST Robotics, Organizer of Windsor Essex Great Lakes Event and Windsor FLL Events, Coach and Mentor of many teams in all levels of FIRST and a Volunteer Coordinator for multiple events. For the past three years, I have been an advisor to the organizing committee and even traveled to the Canadian Pacific Regional in British Columbia to support my son, the Regional Director, as a “Jill of all Trades” of FIRST Volunteering.
Q: What do you do outside of FIRST?
Outside of FIRST, I am involved with both Girl Guides and Scouts, and have been for the past 23 years. I have traveled with Pathfinder Girl Guides to Ireland, Alaska, Calgary, northern Ontario, and many other locations. I am a Co-Administrative Community Leader for Girl Guides of Canada in my community. I love working with youth, helping them experience new challenges, expand their knowledge, and become confident young adults. For the past 27 years, I have run my own business as an Avon Representative, Avon Team Leader, and a Discovery Toys Representative.
Q: What is the coolest thing or experience with FIRST?
Sheri Lynn: Wow, that is hard, there are so many, I could go on forever! The FIRST thing that comes to mind about FIRST is that those who are involved can grow in so many ways and become amazing people. I have had the privilege of watching so many students go from being shy and timid to becoming confident enough to step out of their comfort zones, to try new things and even become leaders.
FIRST has made a strong positive impact on my life as well as my whole family. I am a proud mother of four amazing children who were all involved with FRC and are now still very much involved with FIRST in many ways. We take the opportunity to volunteer as a family supporting each other at events across the country and even both World Championships. FIRST has created a unique family connection for us where we can give back to this influential organization and support all involved. In 2019, our family was all able to attend our local FRC event, where we had the privilege of meeting Woodie Flowers.
Wow, having such an amazing man be a part of the event, being able to talk to him personally, have him talk to all of the team members, sit in the stands with them, eat lunch with our Alumni and Dean’s List Nominees, having the kids sign his shirt and more, that was a FIRST experience my family and I will never forget. I was so honoured to have him share his time with us and a few of us even got to go for dinner with him. Having such an inspiration and iconic founder of FIRST know my name was beyond words. Woodie’s words of wisdom will stay with me forever.
Q: Tell us about some of your hobbies
Sheri Lynn: I love to walk everyday in natural areas and enjoy the unique trees and plants along the trails. I spend a lot of time reading for education and enjoyment, my favourite place to read is on the beach. I enjoy traveling whenever I get the opportunity, whether it is to volunteer at FIRST events, a Girl Guide trip, family vacation or just my husband and me. I enjoy sewing as it allows me to be creative, but I have not done as much over the past several years, because I enjoy spending more time mentoring youth in FIRST programs spend time gardening and learning about plants to create a beautiful landscape at our home. My biggest hobby is FIRST. I could not ask for a more enjoyable pastime than feeling the energy and joy of each student at events as they get to display all their hard work on the big stage. I love supporting the growth of the next generation and watching them accomplish great things!
Thank you to our FSM’s Heather, Sarah, Phil, Paul, Melissa and Sheri Lynn for sharing their stories and adventures in FIRST. We appreciate all that you do!