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Recycling Champion

Leslie Matys' advice on how to succeed at work is to expect more of yourself than anyone else expects of you.
People  |  Aug 15, 2014  |  By Diane Russell
Leslie Matys, recycling supervisor II for Rebel Recycling. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Leslie Matys, recycling supervisor II for Rebel Recycling, recently was named the second-place winner for the President's Classified Employee of the year for 2014. She has been a Rebel since 2007.

Why you came to UNLV

When I was married we always had owned and operated our own business. Then we got divorced and I was on my own. I needed to find something stable with insurance. My brother-in-law worked here and I knew a lot of UNLV people through his softball team. My first day, UNLV just felt like home.

Your UNLV career

I started as a grounds worker. Before I moved to recycling last year I had worked my way up to a grounds supervisor III. As soon as I got into grounds I absolutely loved it.

Your current job

We have student workers that I oversee. They do the recycling pickups in the buildings. We have community service workers that I supervise in the yard. We sort and weigh all the recycling and put everything in its proper place, and bail cardboard. Right now EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) is doing a major cleanout. They bring us truckloads every day. We will be planting a community garden. Getting ready for that is a major project.

How much recycling we do

We collected 770 tons last year. Most of it goes to Republic Services. Remember, we collect from Sam Boyd Stadium, including when they have major events like football games and tailgates. And we pick up from the Dental School. We also collect food waste from places like the Student Union and the Dining Commons. We weigh and sort that before sending it to A1 Organics.

How people can make your job easier

Everybody should pay more attention to their recycling and not dump everything in their garbage can just because it's easier. We try to make it so easy and convenient for people on campus to recycle. You always should be Earth-conscious.

Advice to a new employee

To be successful everything you do has to be 110 percent of yourself. You have to have higher expectations of yourself than anybody else does. You have to be motivated and willing to do the work.

People who were particularly helpful to you when you started at UNLV

Vikki and Victor Welbourne (both of facilities maintenance services). I had known them for years. Vikki and I grew up around the corner from each other.

I could not do my job without

My support staff behind me. There is so much to be done, no one person could do it. If I didn't have them behind me, it wouldn't be good.

A dream vacation would be

I want to sell everything I own, buy a boat, and sail around the world. I want to be away from everybody for a while. I don't really care where I end up. I don't know how to sail, but I can learn!

What the Person Nominating Her for the Award Had to Say

Tara Pike, recycling manager/campus sustainability coordinator: "She was a trooper when it came to the new recycling program at Sam Boyd Stadium. Events at Sam Boyd require long hours into the wee hours of the night. A football game or monster truck event will be a 12-hour-long day that ends at 3 a.m. And it is strenuous work to clean the Star Nursery Field and the stadium seating area. She jumps in and manages, leads, and gets it done.

"Working at the recycling center means dealing with multiple employees and volunteers. She manages the rotating pool of personalities extremely well to get all the jobs done. It takes a certain personality and set of skills to be able to handle the (court-ordered) community service people because they have all types of attitudes and skill levels.

"Leslie empowers our student workers. She is supportive of them and encourages them. She teaches them the qualities and skills conducive to being a good employee."