The Natchitoches Young Professionals (NYP), an initiative of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, has named its 4 Under 40 Award recipients for 2020. They are Stewart Carnline, Craig Caskey, Chris Lyles and Sarah Stewart Nelson. The 4U40 Awards are given to four NYP members who excel in community leadership and professional achievements while maintaining a consistent level of involvement with the NYP. 4U40 Nominations are accepted through an anonymous survey open to anyone in the organization.
From there, a committee consisting of former winners, current NYP Board Members, and Chamber Board Members votes until the four winners are chosen.
Stewart Carnline is the director of marketing and public relations for EpicTouch Company. Since moving to the Natchitoches area in 2014, Carnline has been an active member of NYP and the community. Carnline has previously served on the Natchitoches Young Professionals Board of Directors and has also served for the past five years on the committee for NYP’s signature event, the NYP Pub Crawl. The Pub Crawl brings over 500 people to downtown Natchitoches and has generated thousands of charitable dollars given back to the community each year. Carnline is currently a member of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and a commissioner for the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission.
Carnline is also an active board member of the Natchitoches Area Jaycees where he served as president in 2018. With the Natchitoches Area Jaycees, Carnline has been heavily involved in the annual Make A Smile Happen Toy Drive, which collects toys and distributes them to families in need throughout Natchitoches Parish each Christmas season. He also helps chair one of the Jaycees signature annual events, Cookin’ on the Cane BBQ Festival, which draws competitors from all over the Ark-La-Tex region to the Natchitoches Riverfront and raises money for the Jaycees Northwestern State University scholarship. Craig Caskey is the continuous improvement manager at Alliance Compressors. He is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University, where he received his bachelor’s in industrial engineering and is currently enrolled in a master’s program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
As part of his role at Alliance, Caskey is tasked with leading the cost reduction process with annual project savings goals of over one million dollars, rolling out plant-wide initiatives and projects and mentoring industrial engineering students while they execute their senior design projects at both Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State. Caskey has served on the board of the Natchitoches Young Professionals from 2017-19 and is currently President-Elect of the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches. As a past NYP chair, Craig was one of the driving forces behind the development of the Louisiana Young Professionals Conference, bringing young professionals from across the state to the city of Natchitoches for a day of networking and education.
He is a Sunday School teacher and media volunteer at Westside Baptist Church, participates on advisory councils at Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State, has served as Mardi Gras royalty for the Krewe of Dionysos and is a past master of Phoenix Lodge #38 F&AM. Chris Lyles is the interim director for the School of Biological and Physical Sciences at Northwestern State University.
Since arriving at NSU in 2015, he has worked to bring in over $50,000 in external grants, created a new degree in microbiology, created an endowment account to fund undergraduate research opportunities, mentored research students, published two scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Lyles also coordinated a new summer camp called Destination Science, which provides middle school students the opportunity to learn about chemistry, physics, genetics, anatomy, animal behavior, microbiology and ecology. Last summer, he was awarded a fellowship through the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE).
This is a competitive federal appointment that recognizes academic excellence and scientific achievement.
Lyles served his appointment with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers – Engineering Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss. In 2019, Lyles served the community as a Dixie Youth baseball coach, Natchitoches Area Jaycees’ president, Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity’s faculty advisor and Cub Scout Pack 60 Cub’s master, as well as serving as a volunteer for the NYP and TappedTober. Sarah Stewart Nelson is the director of the Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center and founder of the nonprofit organization, the Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Foundation.
Nelson has rallied with others to create multiple activities in support of cancer patients in the community, including free head and neck cancer screenings, a Geaux Pink Luncheon to honor breast cancer patients, National Cancer Survivors Day celebrations, free breast exam events and monthly cancer support meetings led by Laurie Morrow. In 2018, on a mission to assist cancer patients in the Natchitoches and surrounding communities with transportation, Nelson teamed up with Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and created Tappedtober, Natchitoches’ first craft beer and wine festival, bringing over 3,000 people to downtown Natchitoches.
Nelson also joined forces with Cane River Brewing Co. to create A Kentucky Derby Pre-Party fundraising event that filled the brewery with local businesses, volunteers and support for NLCF’s mission to purchase a van for transportation assistance. In two years, her hard work, dedication and community support paid off and the foundation purchased a van, hired a driver and is now transporting cancer patients to their treatments daily.
Nelson serves as a board member for the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, is a chamber ambassador, executive director/founder of the Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Foundation and is a member of the Natchitoches Young Professionals, the Society of Radiation Oncology Administrators, the Krewe of Dionysos, the American Health Information Management Association and the Louisiana American Health Information Management Association.
These four recipients will be honored at the upcoming Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet Thursday, Jan. 16 at 5 p.m. in the Natchitoches Events Center.