Biz Buzz: Atascadero chamber honors longtime educator

The Atascadero Chamber of Commerce named Jim Stecher, former Atascadero Unified School District superintendent, its Citizen of the Year.

A longtime advocate for young adults, Stecher was honored at the chamber’s annual dinner Saturday for his many years of teaching, coaching and guiding local students.

Now 67, the former superintendent taught history and coached several sports at Atascadero High School for about three decades before taking the school district’s top post in 2000.

“Mr. Stecher is one of my best friends,” former chamber Chairman Donn Clickard said.

“One of the things that is so apparent to everyone who knows him is honesty is the one quality that sets him apart.”

Before his retirement in June 2006, Stecher “led staff and students with a caring heart and always looked for what was in the best interest of all students,” according to his nomination letter.

The community also praised the 1967 Cal Poly graduate for always pitching in and sharing his experience with the community.

The real gift, Stecher said Wednesday, was working with young minds.

“It’s always been a joy, a pleasure,” he said. “You learn so much from them. It keeps you young.”

In his retirement, Stecher continues to coach the Atascadero Greyhounds varsity girls basketball team at the high school. He also volunteers for the Atascadero Elks Lodge service group.

In the past, Stecher has served on the board of directors for Rotary Club of Atascadero, the first Atascadero Main Street, and the chamber.

— Tonya Strickland

Camp Natoma in Paso Robles recently earned accreditation from The American Camp Association.

The accreditation, which is voluntary and different from state licensing, proves that Camp Natoma submitted to a thorough review of program quality, health and safety.

Camp Natoma, which is on 360 acres near Paso Robles, was founded in 1941. The camp offers one-week sessions from June to August for second- through 11th-graders. The ACA has accredited more than 2,400 camps nationally.

— Julia Hickey