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Posted 11/7/2018

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By Lee Roberts
Nashville District Public Affairs


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (Nov. 7, 2018) – Corps of Engineers real estate officials recruited Middle Tennessee State University students today to become public servants and stewards of public lands while touting career opportunities and benefits on campus.

“We probably have the best real estate jobs,” said Mike Abernathy, who supervises 21 employees as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Real Estate Division chief.  “We have an incredibly interesting program.”

Abernathy explained that Corps of Engineers’ districts are organized by watersheds and how real estate offices manage and dispose of real property, provide technical expertise and business analysis as it relates to acquisition; provide support to U.S. military forces during overseas contingency operations; and support disaster response and recovery for the nation.

The Nashville District’s Real Estate Division manages nearly 500,000 acres of public lands with more than 5,000 tenants at 10 lakes within the Cumberland River Basin and maintains one of the largest marina programs in the nation.

Cathy Keith, Nashville District Real Estate Division’s chief of Technical Resources Branch, said her team provides oversight of acquisition of properties and land required for projects, identification of landowners and occupants, utility and facility relocation identification, support of relocation of residences and businesses, as well as review and recommendations regarding local sponsor applications for real estate credit.  She told the students that opportunities for employment exist in accounting, appraisal, mapping and GIS, acquisition, commercial leasing, project planning and real property accountability.

“The Corps has been around as long as the Army has been around,” Keith said.  “It’s an interesting place to work with a lot of history.”

Keith shared photos of historical and present day projects and explained how her team has worked with project sponsors to acquire land in support of projects while ensuring property owners receive fair settlements in accordance with the law.  She said the Corps of Engineers has enjoyed a long history supporting communities with real estate requirements, usually to support flood risk management.

Myles Barton, Nashville District Real Estate Division’s chief of Management and Disposal Branch, supervises land management and manages approximately 5,000 active real estate agreements in the district, including 57 commercial marinas in the Cumberland River Basin.  He spoke to the students about the marina program, compliance inspections, and marketable resources such as sand, gravel and timber.

“Not long ago I was on your side of the table. I graduated in 2008,” Barton said.

Barton said his team basically manages public lands that are used for project purposes such as flood control, navigation, hydropower, water storage, and recreation. Commercial leases are also a big part of what the team does, he added.

“We have a huge commercial concession program with 57 marinas, state parks, shoreline licenses, more than 5,000 tenants,” Barton said.  “We have to issue the appropriate real estate interest” for these.

Abernathy, Keith and Barton were invited to speak at the MTSU Business and Aerospace Building as part of the Guaranty Trust Real Estate Speaker Series.

Dr. Philip Seagraves, associate professor and director of the MTSU Real Estate Program, said the Corps of Engineers has some really cool jobs.  He said that’s why he invited the Corps’ real estate experts to expose students about career opportunities, and why he teaches students that there is a lot more to real estate than hanging balloons on mailboxes on Saturday and having open houses.

“We have to depend on people that we appoint, hire and put into office to be stewards of public land.  One of the groups that is a steward of some of the most important real estate we have in our entire nation is the Army Corps of Engineers,” Seagraves said.  

Seagraves said students possess all sorts of talents and personality traits, so he steers them to find their niche in real estate as entrepreneurs, with companies of all sizes, and even the government.

Tyler Normand, a junior finance major with a concentration in real estate, said he already earned his real estate license as a member of the Blue Raider Real Estate Club, and also works for Raider Realty, a real estate brokerage formed to help MTSU students get their start in the business, while providing scholarships for future real estate students.

Normand said he appreciated learning about avenues of employment available in the Corps of Engineers and with other federal agencies.

“Not many real estate jobs come with benefits, so that would be a great opportunity to be able to work in the real estate field, but also have the incredible benefits of a government job,” Normand said.

Aliyah Loyd, president of the Blue Raider Real Estate Club and finance major with a concentration in real estate, said she just received her affiliate broker license and is very excited about working in the career field. She said the speaker series educates and informs the 25 to 30 members in the club about the various aspects of real estate and of course employment information.

“I did not know of all the job opportunities,” Loyd said. “I really liked learning about land management and real estate practices for the government.  This really caught my eye so I’m going to try to intern next summer.”

Abernathy culminated the speaking engagement answering questions about the government’s employment process, and he emphasized that the Corps of Engineers is a great organization that offers stability and benefits in real estate and many other career fields. 

He said the Corps is looking for college graduates, especially from real estate programs like the one they are part of at MTSU, and encouraged the students to create accounts on usajobs.gov and check out the many federal jobs listed on the site.

(For more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. Learn more about federal job opportunities at http://www.usajobs.gov.)

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