Sandy Mountain Festival – Princess Nannette Wilson

A community builder, mom and 'CSI'
by: Lisa K. Anderson Nannette Wilson, a Sandy Mountain Festival princess, became a car seat safety technician in 2005. During Child Passenger Safety Week in September, she offers free car seat safety checks at the Sandy Fire District. Wilson’s career with Sandy Fire began when she was a 16-year-old Explorer. She has served as executive secretary for the district since 1999.

According to research, nine out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly, and the fire department sees the consequences. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for American children.

Enter Sandy Mountain Festival princess Nannette Wilson, who became one of few 'CSIs,' or car seat installers, in East Clackamas County in 2005. Since then, Wilson has ensured families have properly installed and inspected car seats.

She is particularly busy during September's Child Passenger Safety Week, when the Sandy Fire District offers free car seat safety checks.

Wilson, 31, is the executive secretary for Sandy Fire, and has served the district since she was a 16-year-old Explorer learning about fire service.

'In the past several years, Nannette has become my right hand,' say Alice Busch, public information officer for the fire district. 'I have come to depend on her for her advice and guidance regarding our community's needs.'

Becoming a car seat safety technician has required 40 hours of training, additional training every year and participation in car seat clinics. Wilson schedules prevention outreach programs, tours, presentations and events for the fire district.

'We're lucky to have her,' says Phil Schneider, deputy chief of Sandy Fire. 'She's always willing to take on extra tasks.'

Wilson grew up in Sandy and has missed only one Sandy Mountain Festival. During the event in 2003, her daughter Mallory was born. Wilson says the small community where everyone knows each other and the great events keep her here.

Wilson graduated from Sandy High School in 1997 and officially began working for the fire district in 1999 after attending massage school. She attended Sandy Grade and Cedar Ridge Middle schools.

In addition to her role as 'CSI,' she's known as community-builder who assists in Relay for Life and the Sandy Kiwanis Christmas Basket Program.

As logistics coordinator for Sandy Relay for Life and co-team captain of the Sandy Fire Relay for Life team, Wilson has impressed the Sandy Relay chairwoman, Jan Smith.

'She'll make anything happen -- she's a driving force, enthusiastic and organized,' Smith says.

When Sandy Grade School Principal James Phillips died last February, Wilson arranged for students to create luminarias like those used in Relay for Life and displayed them before the celebration of life.

'She's the best of the best, and emulates what it means to be a princess,' Smith says. 'Whatever is going on that's good in this world, she's there and a huge role model.'

In addition to her efforts as logistics chair and co-team captain, Wilson holds Bunco nights at the fire district in which the money generated is donated to the relay.

Through her collaboration with the Sandy Kiwanis Club, which began when she was a high school student in Key Club, Wilson ensures more than 350 families have Christmas each year.

She oversees aspects of the Christmas basket program, including the application process, delivery routes, cross-checking and organization of boxes, and coordination with the senior center and Sandy Vista.

Wilson says she's most proud of being a mom, and she had no idea how much it entailed until she began balancing everything.

'We're always on the go,' she says. 'Playing outside, hiking the Gorge.'

But Wilson also values sitting down to dinner and taking vacations together. Last year she and her family took a 15-day road trip spanning 11 states with five people in one car.

Wilson is the mother of Mallory, 7, and Maegan, 6; the soon-to-be stepmother of Annika Howland, 14; and the fiancée of Scott Howland.

Howland also works for the fire district. 'We complement each other,' she says. 'He brings humor to our lives.'

She says the fire district is a 'big family.'

Wilson offered her advice to younger generations: 'It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks -- be truthful and show your values. Nobody knows how to be you better than you.'