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Operations Division hosts Natural Resource Management Workshop

Published March 6, 2020

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District held a Natural Resource Management Workshop, Feb. 25-27, 2020, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The three-day workshop, held in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, provided park rangers and project managers the opportunity to meet outside the project area and network together. 

“We are seldom able to meet outside of our project areas, and even then, some project areas have limited internal meetings due to geographical distances among lake projects, so just being able to all meet together at the same time is very beneficial,” said Lisa Freeman, Louisville District locks and dams natural resources specialist. “We can put names to faces, both of field personnel and district staff that we may interact with regularly by email or phone, but have never met in person. Being able to network and bounce ideas off each other, find out what new things are going on in other project areas is a great opportunity.”

Several speakers, some from outside the Louisville District, also attended the event to provide information and presentations on different items of interest. 

“The majority of presentations have information that everyone across the spectrum of experience can use, such as updates to the uniform program and new developments in the visitor assistance area,” Freeman said. “Breakout sessions allow for participants to pick the seminars that will most benefit them or be of most interest to them.”

A project delivery team was formed to plan this event, as hosting an event for approximately 67 rangers and staff members, does not come easy. Operations Division attempts to host this workshop every other year; however, due to funding and other constraints, it has been three years since the last event, according to Freeman. 

“A huge amount of planning goes into this event. This workshop was especially challenging, as we had started planning for a workshop in 2018, then had to switch gears to 2019,” Freeman said. “After having laid out most of the planning, we discovered that to meet new location requirements we had to scramble to find a location on federal property. Over the course of the two years of planning for this workshop, 11 people assisted with the planning. Members of the committee included park rangers from each project area and district operation staff as well.”

The event is open to district park rangers, project managers, area managers and Operation Division staff.  Lake administrative personnel and maintenance staff stay behind to run the office while the workshop takes place.  

“Maintenance staff are still there working making sure water control gate operations and other essential functions are still happening,” Freeman said. “We hold the workshop during the winter when it is our low public visitation period to limit disruptions to visitors.  We feel the networking that occurs with having all the natural resource management staff present is worth not having them at their projects for a few days.” 

Although it may have been a scramble near the end to get the new venue secured, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was a great venue, according to Freeman. 

“I think participants had a great time exploring the museum before the event and during lunch breaks.  Overall, positive comments were received through participant evaluations regarding the presentations, speakers and the venue,” Freeman said. 

Sam Ferrarelli, William H. Harsh Lake project manager, agreed. 

“The NRM workshop is a chance for all of us in the field to come together, share ideas and learn from each other’s challenges and creative moments. These meetings provide the best opportunity to grow a strong, cohesive natural resource program across the district,” Ferrarelli said. “Our speakers are excellent and provide wonderful learning opportunities for our staff, but the best part of these meetings for me, is getting to see again or meet for the first time, all of my fellow staff members. I learn so much from them that putting a value on what I get out of these workshops would be impossible.”
This year’s project delivery team included Samantha Ferrarelli, Jared Blocher, Alicia Cannon, Keith Chasteen, Wendy Clark, Michael Coleman, Lisa Freeman, Mark Klimaszewski, Blake Smith, J.D. Tucker and Jessica Zimmer.