Sami Clear: Multi-tasking extraordinaire at the Stevens County Humane Society

By Thomas Hiatt

In her short time here in Morris, Sami Clear has already acted in the capacity of both manager of Pomme de Terre Foods and volunteer coordinator at the Stevens County Humane Society. This experience in governing organizations goes all the way back to cashiering at her parents’ thrift store in St. Cloud at the age of nine.
Like many other Morris newcomers, she moved here for the University and although she grew up in St. Cloud, she has come to embrace the small town vibe. “People are friendly here,” she said. “The professors are nice. They act like they genuinely care. And it’s really pretty all the time, even in winter. It just felt like the right fit.”
Through a series of circumstances, she soon found herself managing Pomme de Terre Foods. Simultaneously, she began volunteering at the Stevens County Humane Society – all while still being a full-time University of Minnesota Morris student.
Her passion for animals – cats in particular – would soon morph into a paid gig. “The University approached me with ‘we’re thinking of making this work study position.’” she said. “I was interested in the Humane Society and knew it was more what I wanted to do rather than just managing a business. So they created the volunteer coordinator position.
“The University had a plan to hire two volunteer coordinators through the office of community engagement and use federal work study funds, but the other coordinator could not use her funds for that and wasn’t eligible so it’s just been me since, basically, the semester started. It’s very independent, like PDT (Pomme de Terre Foods) was.” She was given a lot of leeway in defining the specifics of her position. “It’s basically ‘Here you go. Do it.’”
“My job,” she said. “Is making sure shifts are filled, which either means finding someone to fill them or fill them myself. There are 21 shifts a week, three shifts a day: AM, NOON, PM, I’m also responsible for recruiting volunteers. I do not have time to do that,” she said with a smile. “But it is within my realm of responsibilities.”
She also helps with paperwork and checks in on volunteers, making sure safety concerns are met. “With the crazy weather we’ve been having, some people are afraid of walking the dogs and just want to deal with cats. Making sure the animals have enough food, have clean litter boxes, clean water, brushing, trimming nails, making sure they get their meds is a big one, making sure chores are done correctly.”
In the event of call-ins, she absolutely has to show up to work, even if driveways aren’t plowed. She has been stuck and had to shovel out twice but the animals cannot give her a “day off.”
Before her association with Stevens County, she volunteered at the Tri-county Humane Society in St. Cloud. “It was vastly different, ” she said. “There, it was a set shift every single week. All the responsibilities included washing dishes. You would make sure all the animals had water in their dishes. Occasionally, you can pet them. Clean the cats’ litter boxes. Clean the small animals’ cages. We did not walk dogs at all. That was a separate volunteer position. Feeding the animals was a separate volunteer position. They had maybe 16 kennels, much bigger than this Humane Society. There, the volunteers didn’t have to worry about aggressive animals or infectious animals, or giving meds.” At this humane society, in contrast, all the volunteers have to tend to all the animals.
As a biology major with a pre-veterinary path, this route fit well into her template. Her goal is to become a veterinarian, a very demanding field where only 15 percent of applicants actually get accepted into the graduate school program. For Ms. Clear, being volunteer coordinator is a fulfilling way to gain outside experience.

Sami Clear wishes the acknowledgement of the following people who facilitated in her journey: Heather Moser – Building/Office Manager, April Mevissen – board member, Jean McDermont – board member, Karon White – board member, Kathleen Jost – board member/veterinarian contact, Machon Halbe – board member, Rochelle Anderson – board member, Tracey Anderson – board member, Sarah Eckel – coordinator, Office of Community Engagement (UMM) and all the volunteers too numerous to mention!