At DEQ, It’s Always Mission POSSIBLE

By The Fun Committee

Nicole Pellicori sends a water balloon flying during the DEQ Picnic.

Our Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) employees don’t just “talk the talk” when it comes to our mission, vision, and values. We live it, individually and collectively, every day. We know that clean air, land, and water are important to the people of Utah, and we take our responsibility to safeguard these precious resources very seriously.

But we’re not always serious! Sometimes we need to reboot, clear our minds, and enjoy ourselves with our colleagues at our annual DEQ picnic.

This year, we wanted to focus on our DEQ “Mission, Vision and Values” as the theme for our annual picnic, so the DEQ Fun Committee (yes, that’s our committee’s name, and we’re proud of it!) decided to do a play on the Mission ImPossible theme. (Peter Graves for us older folks, and Tom Cruise for you millennials.) We chose this play-on-words because we believe our mission is ALWAYS possible, and we work hard every day to make sure we fulfill it.

Our mission (should we choose to accept it…and WE DO!) is “safeguarding and improving Utah’s air, land and water through balanced regulation.” This doesn’t happen by walking into work and sitting at a desk. It takes dedication, pride, and the right people—people who are willing to live our four values:

    • Exceptional Service
    • Commitment to Employees
    • Credibility and Trust
    • Continuous Improvement

As part of our theme, we focused on our value of “Exceptional Service.” For us, exceptional service isn’t just about our customers and stakeholders, it’s also about the “service” we can provide to our communities through work-sponsored donation and service opportunities.


Our service project for the summer was “Fill-The-Cube.” Our “mission” was providing families at the Road Home Family Center in Midvale with needed clothing and supplies. We put out plastic bins on each floor for employees to place their donations. Each Friday, we unloaded the bins and placed the items in an empty cubicle on the second floor.  We were amazed by the generosity of our staff! By the end of the summer, the cubicle was filled to overflowing, and we had collected an additional $378 in cash donations for the Center.

DEQ employees loading up the vans with donations to the Road Home

Early in the morning on the day of our picnic, DEQ employees packed all the donations into two large vans. When we arrived at the Center, the children were already waiting for the school bus. The coordinator came up to us and thanked us for providing the children with school clothes and other needed items for their families. We even filled up all their donation bins!! It was so rewarding to see that we were able to make a difference.

Commitment to Employees

One of our DEQ values is “Commitment to Employees.” While that usually entails professional development, employee support, and training opportunities, our Executive Director Alan Matheson thinks it’s important for us to have fun, too! The picnic is a great way for us to come together as a department and not worry about the normal responsibilities we face every day. When you work that hard, you also need to be able to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

The picnic was a combination of great food, fun games, and time spent together in a beautiful place. As you can see from the pictures, we really enjoy being with each other! After months of drafting permits, attending meetings, and collecting water samples, we can still kick back with a friendly game of horseshoes, a competitive game of kickball, and a take-no-prisoners water-balloon fight. And who knew how exciting playing bingo could be? Best of all, our Fun Committee was able to make this all happen on a very tight budget.

Jodi Gardberg doesn’t mess around when she’s playing kickball

Thanks to the support of so many, we were able to have this amazing picnic and put a service project together that was such a great blessing to the shelter. When our employees see a need — whether it’s finding ways to improve our air, land, and water, or helping those in our community — we meet it head on!

Scott Baird takes aim at the photographer

Thanks to all the DEQ employees who contributed to our Fill-the-Cube service project and brought their sense of play and good humor to our picnic!

The Fun Committee

Marie Owens frightens Alan Matheson with her T-shirt.Fun Committee:

  • Elisa Smith (Division of Environmental Response and Remediation)
  • Deborah Ng (Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control)
  • Arlene Lovato (Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control)
  • Dyani Wood (Division of Drinking Water)
  • Gary Kobzeff (Division of Drinking Water)
  • Jay Baker (Division of Air Quality)
  • Nicole Pellicori (Finance)
  • Laurie Leib (Finance)
  • Jodie Swanson (DEQ Web Team)
  • Catherine Llewelyn (DEQ Front Desk)
  • Jenny Potter (Executive Director’s Office)