Recreating on the water is a great way to spend time with friends and loved ones. However, every year an average of nine people drown while out recreating at the Little Rock District’s lakes and rivers. According to the Little Rock District Chief of Safety and Occupational Health Dennis Bradley, “Causes can be as simple as swimmers exceeding their swimming capabilities. For example, people think they they can swim from their boat to a buoy and back, and they cannot, and end up drowning.”
The Corps takes every opportunity to promote water safety, because even one drowning is one too many. The Corps finds creative ways to promote water safety messaging by following current trends in the social media realm such as lip syncing and dancing, among many others. In following these trends, it allows the water safety team to reach a broader audience in order to ensure their message reaches as many people as possible.
In addition, the water safety team can be seen out and about at various events across Arkansas such as the Big Buck Classic, Little Rock Boat and RV shows, Boo on the Bayou, etc. At these events, members of the water safety team educate parents and children on how to be safe on or near the water.
Even though the numbers of fatalities from drowning per year are low, this is still an important cause because lives are lost. It is not only important to us at the Corps, but to the families who have lost loved ones. Most of these drownings could have been prevented if the individual had been wearing a life jacket.
According to Brooke Thomason, the program manager for the Little Rock District’s water safety team, “The main focus of our program is educating the public on how to properly wear life jackets and encouraging life jacket wear while recreating on Corps lakes and rivers. Our goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of the visitors that enjoy our projects. We want everyone to visit our lakes and rivers and return home safely to their families.”
So while you are out recreating on or near the water, please remember to be safe and to always wear your life jacket.
The Little Rock District recently hosted a regional leadership development conference. The conference brought together program attendees and leaders from across the division to share their experiences with the program. LDP is a multi-tiered program that provides a means for developing and enhancing employee leadership skills to meet the challenges of the changing needs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and to improve the execution of the organization’s mission.
By participating in LDP, individuals will learn how to improve areas of performance through training, self-development, and mentoring. This will not only teach you how to be a team player but will also prepare you for leadership, supervisory and management positions.
This regional conference is the first of its kind for the LDP Level II Program for the Southwestern Division. The goal of the conference is to collaborate with other districts in order to facilitate an exchanging of ideas with one another. This conference is a great way to get everyone together in order to create a standard curriculum for Level II. This in turn will create constituency for core curriculums across the different districts. For example, every district will do these core things, but then will be provided extras such as fun team building activities in order to customize their program.
DeAnn Lehigh, deputy district counsel for the Little Rock District, has been an LDP champion for most of her career. As a graduate of the program herself, she is passionate about developing people because, “When we develop our people, they are more engaged which directly impacts our culture and mission accomplishment. LDP II provides opportunities to learn and grow as a person and employee that I believe makes our organization better.”
When asked what participants can expect to learn from the course, Chief of Workforce Management, Elizabeth Whitmore stated, “How to collaborate with others, think strategically, improve written and oral communication, learn how to manage and resolve conflict, build teams, and improve public speaking skills. This year we had seven sessions in a 12 month period. For the first time ever, we hosted a regional session in Little Rock and invited program participants from the other SWD districts to attend. It was an honor to have Mr. Pete Perez, one of our SES personnel, as a guest speaker.”
It is plain to see that this program is fruitful and extremely popular among Corps employees.
When asked why leader development is important Whitmore stated, “It is critical that we invest in developing our top performers to help shape the future of the district. While in the Level II program, participants get to know and understand themselves better, which helps them work with others more effectively. A large number of graduates now hold supervisory positions or serve as the lead for projects and programs. We make it clear that participation in the program does not guarantee an individual will move into supervisory positions, but we have seen that that is oftentimes the result. For others, the program experience helped them navigate into completely different career fields where more opportunities exist. And then some choose to continue leading from right where they sit. I can say from my personal experience as a LDP Graduate that I would not be where I am today had it not been for this program.”
All of the districts have something unique to offer. For example, in the Little Rock District, the first day of the program involves trust building exercises. The team is taken out to a 4-H Center in which they do zip lining and a high ropes course. The team members have to rely on each other for support to navigate the course.
Another unique quality is the way the sessions are structured. Participants attend both full and half days away from their normal work place. This is done so people aren’t tempted to go back to their desks and conduct business. The leaders of the program want them focused 100 percent on LDP when they are in session. In order to facilitate this focus, more than half of the sessions that are held in the Little Rock District are out at the project offices.
Senior leader involvement is also huge. Participants get a lot of face time with the Commander and all of the senior leaders which provides them exposure and unique networking opportunities, something they may rarely get during their daily work activities. It’s like meeting the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and getting to hang out with them and their team for three days.
There have been numerous graduating classes in the Little Rock District.
Cissy Guerra was one of the graduates of the Little Rock District’s 2017 class. When asked about her experiences with LDP Guerra had this to say, “It’s a great program for anyone at any point in their career. I realized it’s never too late to invest in yourself and that’s what I did. I gained a lot of confidence and strength, and gained a lot of professional and personal growth. It was a great experience all the way around.”
LDP also creates team camaraderie, by coaxing individuals to come out of their comfort zones. According got Guerra, “It’s through these moments that the teams are really able to use the diversity of their personalities to accomplish their goals. We had a great journey both personally and professionally.”
Participants at the conference were treated to a special visit with the Director of Regional Business for the Southwestern Division, Mr. Pete Perez. Perez discussed the importance of the LDP program and how it can shape participants to become more effective leaders in the future. Perez stated that “Different exposures, interactions, situations, and scenarios that participants have to work through during the LDP program will set the foundation and the basis to deal with real life situations they may encounter in their careers, such as how to deal with conflict.”