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Posted 2/26/2015

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By Samantha Bachelder, Buckhorn Lake


For the first time in 15 years, the Louisville District held a workshop for the rangers and managers of the district’s 20 lakes as well as other operations division employees. The workshop was held Feb. 2-4 at Barren River Lake State Resort Park, Glasgow, Kentucky.

The two-and-a-half-day workshop provided program information and required training in an atmosphere that also facilitated team building, open dialogue and communication between lake projects and their district counterparts.

 Designed to encourage intra- and inter-agency networking, team members had the opportunity to complete hours of training, further their knowledge on upcoming issues within the natural resources field, and bond with team members across the states of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

“I got a lot of information and ideas out of the workshop that I can start using immediately,” said Chris Boggs, Green River Area operations manager. “Sharing information about projects we’re working on or have completed helps us work more efficiently and effectively.”

Establishing communication and understanding between the lake projects and the district office were an important part of the workshop. Col. Christopher Beck, Louisville District commander; Gene Dowell, chief of operations; and Dave Liagre, assistant chief of operations, attended the workshop, speaking directly with project team members and encouraging everyone to ask questions, voice concerns and to let them know the biggest obstacles they face in the field. A suggestion box was available throughout the event in which anyone could place anonymous questions or suggestions, which would then be taken back to the district office to be reviewed and discussed.

Over the course of the workshop, team members from personnel, contracting, operations, regulatory, public affairs, and planning division’s environmental resource section presented on their respective fields and covered the most commonly asked questions to their offices from the lake projects. These sessions allowed for direct contact and feedback, clarifying topics and facilitating discussion to strengthen the district in upcoming endeavors. Operations division presentation topics included accident reporting, encroachments and visitor assistance as well as partnerships, volunteers, water safety, invasive species and trail construction.

Outside experts from the National Park Service, Farmers Rural Electric and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife enhanced the learning experience, encouraging team members to consider new ideas and approaches at their lake projects. The National Park Service staff at nearby Mammoth Cave National Park provided a complimentary, two-hour cave tour for workshop attendees to experience the cultural and natural history of the world’s longest mapped cave system.

 Funding and logistics had prevented similar workshops in the past 15 years, and although these reasons will certainly recur in the coming years, staff members stressed the importance of continuing to host this type of event.

“I’ve always felt that I am part of a great work force in the Louisville District and attending this work shop just reconfirmed my pride of being a civilian of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Brookville Lake Ranger Stephanie Ison, natural resources specialist.

Not only can new information and required training be administered more efficiently, but bonds between team members are cultivated, allowing for information sharing that will increase productivity and unity across the district. Coming together as a team will continue to build our district strong. Even if these workshops can be held only periodically, the value and benefit added to our natural resource staff, the Corps and to the public makes them well worth the cost.