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TERO Director Searches for Jobs and Native Vendors

 Craig Watkins Speaking

 

TERO director Craig Watkins has a goal to achieve "success." Whether it is with the job placement of tribal members or the search for Native vendors, this is his overall objective.

 

"I came in with a mindset of success for the TERO program," Watkins said. "By doing research and all of the things that this program can provide all of our tribal members and Native Americans in general, I see there's a lot of potential. To this day, I'm still tapping resources to better the program, to expand the program, and to bring more awareness to TERO."

 

In addition to a "mindset of a success," Watkins also said he has a goal of "self-sufficiency" in any program where he is employed. From 1999-2009, Watkins worked full-time in radio broadcasting for Citadel Communications and studying at the Tempe, Ariz.-based Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, where he became a certified studio engineer. Following his work in the Oklahoma City broadcasting market, he moved to the Anadarko area "to be closer to family," he said.

 

Watkins, a Wichita tribal member, also became a Wichita tribal employee on June 27, 2011, beginning in maintenance. Within six months, Watkins was hired by the Wichita Department of Environmental Programs as a water technician on Dec. 12, 2011, and then as water coordinator on June 11, 2012. After working four years with WDEP, the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes hired him as TERO director on July 25, 2016, after the death of the previous director, the late Edward Stephenson.

 

"My main goal, to this day, has always been to represent the tribe, at anything I do for the tribe, to the best skillset that I could possibly bring," Watkins said. "It didn't matter if I was cleaning offices or doing what I'm doing now. I always wanted to represent the tribe in the most professional way possible."

 

One of the TERO office's primary functions is to help tribal members find employment. However, Watkins said that this should be more of a long-term objective rather than "just finding a job."

 

"What we do is help them try to find employment," Watkins said. "I go out and network with different contractors and different educational institutes. We try to help our Natives go find jobs and mostly, careers. Instead of just finding a job, we want to help them find careers that they can retire with and feel better about."

 

Tied in with the TERO mission of Native employment is giving preference to Native vendors in areas of contracting. This potentially includes everything from construction contracts to the ordering of office supplies from Native-owned businesses.

 

"The importance of Native vendor preference is because there's not too many out there compared to other vendors, say non-Native vendors," Watkins said. "I do believe in helping out each other-Natives helping Natives-that's basically the mindset. I always grew up that way too. Personally, myself in my own home, we try to use Native vendors only for anything that we use."

 

The next TERO-sponsored event is the Spring Job Fair. This will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, April 20 at the Iscani Gym, 1 E. Coronado Ave. Representatives from area businesses as well as vocational school and military recruiters will be present. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Social Services program is a co-sponsor of the event.

 

For more information, call Watkins at 405-247-2425 ext. 147.