NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 19, 2019) – Bringing kids to work is not just for kids anymore. Employees with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District just included spouses and parents in what is now being dubbed “Bring Your Family to Work Day.”
Nearly 100 family members, including 55 children, toured Old Hickory Dam today at Cumberland River mile 216.2 in Old Hickory, Tenn., and then visited the Nashville District Headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., for hands-on activities meant to make learning about Corps careers fun.
In the morning, participants visited the navigation lock, dam and hydropower plant, went onboard Emergency Command and Control Vehicles that provide response teams with network connectivity and communications, practiced “reach, throw, row, but don’t go” water safety drills with Old Hickory Lake park rangers, and engaged in demonstrations of how rainwater is managed with detention basins, wetlands, levies and responsible use of floodplains.
Mario Beddingfield, hydraulic engineer, brought his wife Dagian and daughter Mariah to let them see where he works and better understand how he supports projects like Old Hickory Dam.
“My family knows the parts I tell them about. Now they get to see kind of a bigger picture, so letting them see Old Hickory Dam is pretty cool,” said Beddingfield.
His daughter Mariah said she liked seeing the spillway gates in operation, and loved watching the many Blue Herons flying around the dam during the tour.
When the group arrived at the Nashville District Headquarters in the early afternoon, Lt. Col. Cullen Jones, Nashville District commander, highlighted how employees support water management, flood risk reduction, navigation, hydropower and recreation in the district, which covers 59,000 square miles in seven states.
“We protect people from water, water from people, and make water useful. You got to see a lot of that out at Old Hickory Lock and Dam,” Jones said. “Your family members help support projects like that across our entire area of operations.”
Jones lauded the professionals that make up what he described as a team of teams that support missions at Nashville District projects, made up of employees representing multiple career fields such as engineers, scientists, biologists, accountants, lawyers, to name just a few.
At the Nashville District Headquarters, family members spent the afternoon working on a lot of practical exercises. They fitted pipes that could pump water and generate electricity, built and tested a retaining wall and monolith, made a custom motor and generator with gearing, and learned about soils and geology.
Baron Worsham, geotechnical engineer, led an activity where participants put sand into cups with layers of mesh to stabilize the sand, all to demonstrate the forces inside of soils. It’s also an activity where parents could partner up with kids to do it together, he said.
“Kids have a wonderful natural enthusiasm for this, and it’s a very intuitive art that’s a lot of fun,” Worsham said.
Civil Engineer David Bogema and his daughter Amelia, 11, were building strong sand structures during the geotechnical exercise, but gave high marks for all the activities.
Amelia said she really liked seeing the Global Command and Control Vehicles parked at Old Hickory Dam earlier in the day, but the exercise with the sand she liked best.
“After we built our first one (sand structure) it collapsed,” Amelia explained. “It took a few times to get it but we used eight (meshes) on the last one, the strongest one.”
Her dad David said it’s real nice to expose his daughter to things Corps employees do every day. “It’s good being able to take her out to a project, get her hands dirty playing in the sand and to learn about the science behind all the engineering and everything that we do.”
The different stations provided family members fun activities that attracted interest in what the Corps of Engineers’ employees do for the nation on a much larger scale, not to mention the different career opportunities that exist.
Cierra Mendoza, contract specialist, said she is glad she brought her daughter Lilly with her to take part in the tour of Old Hickory Dam and all the various learning exhibits.
“I enjoyed the tour, displays and hands-on activities that allowed the kids to simply understand how important real-life structures are built and how engineering works,” Mendoza said. “I loved bringing my daughter Lilly to work with me. It was an educational day for me also.”
Bill Whitley, appraiser in the Real Estate Division, served as project manager and organizer for the event. He said despite a cold and cloudy day with light rain, everyone still toured the dam and took part in the various exhibits.
“I really felt like we had a successful event,” Whitley said. “The children were very engaged in the projects. They were able to see that the science they learned in the text book has a practical application they can put to use in a career one day.”
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)