Story by Denisha Braxton
Fort Worth District Public Affairs Office
Justyss Esquivel a Whitney, Texas native, was recognized as the 2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District Equal Employment Opportunity Employee of the Year.
Esquivel, a Natural Resource Specialist for the District was recognized for her efforts mentoring contract gate attendants, coordinating water safety outreach events, and seeking training on new ways to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment throughout the Whitney Lake Project Office and Three Rivers Regional Office.
“I want to do the best I can in this position. I intend to have my accomplishments mean something, to make a positive impact on someone’s life. I was in disbelief that someone would think so highly of me to even nominate me for the award. It made me appreciative of the amazing people I work with every day,” said Esquivel.
Esquivel graduated from Stephen F. Austin University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, with a minor in Biology. Upon graduation, she began her career with the Fort Worth District performing various duties at the Project Office that were crucial to the operation of parks, day use areas and wildlife management.
Currently, Esquivel is working on obtaining Educational Display Permits from Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These permits will allow District team members to use salvaged animal carcasses as educational displays to help promote the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics initiative.
“Justyss is a valuable team member at Whitney Lake and within the Three Rivers Region. Whether being a part of a Project Delivery Team or participating in a group meeting, she always has a positive attitude and encourages others,” said Abraham Phillips, lake manager, Fort Worth District Whitney and Aquilla Lakes.
“When dealing with customers, she takes an optimistic approach and handles each situation with respect. She represents all aspects of the Army Values and exemplifies a positive organizational image throughout all of her duties as a natural resource specialist,” added Phillips.
Working just two years for the Corps of Engineers, Esquivel has been a champion for the local diverse water safety community. From school programs to playing a vital role in local drowning prevention coalitions, few opportunities are missed by Esquivel. This year alone, she has made more than 2,000 direct water safety contacts and 1,500 STEM contacts. Additionally, Esquivel maintains the life jacket loaner boards at Whitney Lake, which offer a Spanish translation for customers.
“The water safety program is what I love most about this job. I hope the water safety topics and scenarios I describe to people help them in some way, either they avoid a dangerous situation or they are able to help someone in need,” she said.
When she’s not reading, practicing archery or spending time with family, Esquivel takes time to share her experiences with students in her hometown and encourages them to do well in school. With her knowledge and passion for STEM, she educates students on the numerous career opportunities with the Corps.
“Our park rangers are the face of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and are critical to the Fort Worth District’s mission in ensuring public safety. Justyss receiving this significant award is a great accomplishment, not only for all of her outstanding work and efforts, but because she is a role model for her colleagues, her community and the future generation,” said Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, deputy commander, Fort Worth District.