20 Under 40: Sean Hovorka committed to future in mining, Moffat County community amid changes
For Craig Press
Sean Hovorka may not have been born in Moffat County, but an understanding and appreciation for the area’s unique personality have made it a home to which he is truly dedicated.
Since coming to Trapper Mine in 2018, Hovorka has committed himself to the community on multiple levels. His position of drill and blast engineer and supervisor with the outfit is one he’s devoted to by furthering his education, currently on his way to a master’s degree through Colorado School of Mines.
Elsewhere, the Army veteran and father has lent his time to multiple endeavors such as the Moffat County High School robotics program, numerous community service groups, and several projects alongside girlfriend Kirstie McPherson, owner of downtown businesses The Find and 518 Wine Bar.
McPherson nominated Hovorka for “20 Under 40” to put the spotlight on his many efforts to better the area.
“Sean is the epitome of an outstanding young professional that deserves to be recognized,” McPherson said.
What is on your playlist? My playlist is a definite mix of a little bit of everything. I think according to Spotify I listened to 347 new genres last year. I can name about three. Top of the list is always either Red Dirt Country or Alternative Rock.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Always pushing forward.
Best book you have read? I love pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman, but “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys” have been my favorite of his.
What’s your favorite go-to local dish? I’m always good with Brett’s Colorado lamb over at Carelli’s.
What is it about Moffat County that sticks out to you when you think of home? Our outdoor spaces are a major personal draw for me. I love loading up the dogs and the camper with Kirstie and disappearing somewhere for a weekend. There’s so much to explore and do in this county that I don’t think anybody will ever be able to find it all. But specific to Craig, I always enjoy turning the corner onto Yampa when I’m coming back from somewhere. Craig has a really unique downtown that could seriously be the set for a Hallmark movie. I hope we keep pushing for improvements in that aspect. We have a lot to offer here, and our downtown is our first opportunity for visitors to make a snap judgement.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your personal or professional accomplishments here? I’m really proud of the steps I’ve taken out at Trapper to develop myself professionally. That has been a group effort with a lot of nudges, shoves, and kicks from other people so I definitely can’t take credit for all of that development myself. I thoroughly enjoy working with the people out there and appreciate that a handful of them feel comfortable bringing me their questions and concerns about our future. I started out here as an engineer three years ago and have been blessed with a lot of opportunities to advance my career. I’m adding to my supervisory experience with the drill and blast crew and am getting to spread my wings a bit with some Project Management on the high wall miner that we are implementing into our mine plan. I enjoy taking on new projects and implementing some change management processes. It’s really easy to get stuck into the same rut, especially if that rut works and takes you where you want to go. However, I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to introduce new procedures to continuously improve our processes while minimizing the uncomfortable impact that always comes with something new.
I also had the opportunity to contribute to a documentary by the Center for the New Energy Economy with Colorado State. The videos focused on how the transition away from coal is going to impact Craig and will be used to relay that message on to policy and decision-makers on the state and, hopefully, national level. It was encouraging to know that people are at least making an effort to understand and share what it’s like out here on our side of the mountains and what the impacts of this transition are going to be.
How do you hope to grow both personally and professionally in 2021? I’ll be completing my master in Mine Management for Engineers through the Colorado School of Mines in September of this year. I’ve been able to implement a few of the lessons I’ve learned in those classes but also look forward to seeing what the last few classes hold that I’ll be able to apply to the benefit of the Trapper team. We’ll also be putting our high wall miner into coal, so I look forward to the new lessons and opportunities that will provide as well.
On a personal level, I look forward to slowing down a bit with the schoolwork and being able to spend a bit more time with Kirstie and the multiple projects that she has going. She has a lot of great ideas that I enjoy being able to stretch my creative side in helping her with. I’m also looking forward to getting back involved with the robotics teams, the Kiwanis Club, Parrotheads, and the VFW. I’d also like to get more involved with the young professionals club. We have a lot of awesome opportunities out here for community involvement, and unfortunately, a heavy school and workload has limited my ability to participate.
What is the best business advice you have ever received? The best career advice I’ve ever received was to listen to the people doing the work. There’s a lot of people out at the mine that have been doing this work longer than I’ve been alive. There’s a lot of the practical side that I have to learn yet. It doesn’t help anybody for me to go out there with my fancy little degree and start barking orders. I have a lot of information that I can contribute to the conversation from lessons I’ve learned either in the Army or in my professional experience, but I’m not big on being the loudest one in the group. OK, maybe the loudest, but not the one doing the most talking.
With people looking to move out of the city and into smaller communities, what advice would you give to those 40 and under moving to Moffat County? Come in, explore the area, get involved with the community, and think about what impact you are going to have before jumping in and expecting the place to change to you. You left the big city for a reason, something about this area attracted you. Don’t rush in and try to change it back to whatever you left.
But, on the other side of that coin, the current residents and leadership in Craig need to be open to new ideas. Let’s start some conversations, explore some new approaches, brainstorm some new sustainable revenue-generating ideas. I don’t believe that any of us want to see Craig drift away into memory, but we also don’t have to be the next ski-town bedroom community that sold their identity for a set of golden handcuffs.
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