Pinnacle of achievement: Peterson Toastmasters get highest honor

Bob Laborde, Peterson Toastmaster, gives a presentation to the club Oct. 24, 2017 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Laboarde was recognized as a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest educational award in the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Bob Laborde, Peterson Toastmaster, gives a presentation to the club Oct. 24, 2017 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Laboarde was recognized as a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest educational award in the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command community outreach chief, talks to the Peterson Toastmasters club about his journey to Distinguished Toastmaster recognition Oct. 24, 2017 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. DTM the highest educational award in the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command community engagement division chief, talks to the Peterson Toastmasters club about his journey to Distinguished Toastmaster recognition Oct. 24, 2017 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. DTM the highest educational award in the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Bob Kittridge, right, Toastmasters area director, addresses Peterson Toastmasters club members Bob Laborde, center, and Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command community outreach chief, during their recognition as Distinguished Toastmasters on Oct. 24, 2017, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The DTM is the highest educational award in the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Bob Kittridge, right, Toastmasters area director, addresses Peterson Toastmasters club members Bob Laborde, center, and Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command community engagement divsion chief, during their recognition as Distinguished Toastmasters on Oct. 24, 2017, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The DTM is the highest educational award in the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Two members of Peterson Toastmasters Club were recognized as Distinguished Toastmasters Oct. 24, 2017 during the regular meeting at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Distinguished Toastmaster is the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters. Bob Laborde, club member, and Mike Pierson, Air Force Space Command, community engagement division chief, made presentations to the club in honor of their achievement.

“I’ve had a chance to learn about leadership and communication outside of a military environment,” said Pierson, who joined the club in 2009 after retiring from the Air Force. “The military was great preparation, but Toastmasters helped me find what appeals to different audiences and I am still adding skills. It’s a safe place to try something new.”

Laborde said he learned leadership skills in Toastmasters he might not use at work or within the club, but benefitted him elsewhere. In situations like organizing a church function, he said the skills picked up in the club made him more effective in the role of leadership.

“Toastmasters has taught me the three most important things about communication,” said Laborde. “Listen, think and speak. In that order.”

Bob Kittridge, Toastmasters area director, was on hand for the official ceremony.

“Toastmasters is all about the process of achievement and growing as an impactful speaker,” Kittridge said. “Both Bob and Mike are members who did not sit and wait, they took this project of becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster full on and they made it happen. They have made such an impact in the Toastmasters community, not only at the Peterson club, but the entire Toastmasters community.”

Laborde joined Toastmasters in 2005 to become a better public speaker. After a few years, circumstances changed and he took a break from the club for about three years. He came back and found that much of his previous achievement would be of no use toward higher achievements because it was not documented.

Rosie Suerdieck, Peterson Toastmasters club president, praised Laborde for his resilience in going back and repeating things to be able to become a DTM. To mark that journey his presentation was titled, “Document, document, document.”

Pierson also took a long path to the high achievement. He said the journey to DTM was like a time in his life when he was intent on climbing as many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot tall peaks as possible.

“I worried about bagging 14ers,” he said. “I wasn’t enjoying the ride and I was doing that with Toastmasters. It dawned on me that I was not looking at the scenery as I made this climb. I started to enjoy the ride to DTM.”

Though the DTM takes much time and commitment, what Laborde enjoys most is the interaction with others.

“What I enjoyed most is listening to other people’s stories,” he said. “Some of the talks given are touching and inspiring. You get to know more about others. You get to know more about yourself.”

Peterson Toastmasters club meets at 11:35 p.m. each Tuesday in the Peterson AFB chapel. For more information visit their website at: https://petersontoastmasters.toastmastersclubs.org/