LEBANON, Tenn. (March 15, 2023)— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District held this year’s Nashville District Park Ranger Workshop March 7 – 9 at the Wilson County Schools Admin and Training Complex in Lebanon to plan for the 2023 recreation season.
Guest speakers discussed topics ranging from on-the-job safety to harmful algal currently being monitored throughout the nation’s waterways. During the three-day event, a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency representative taught first aid refresher training and discussed the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.
“We have speakers educating our rangers on the technique of de-escalating a hostile situation without anyone getting hurt. It’s important because our rangers deal with the public daily, and although many come to our lakes to have fun and recreate responsibly, there are some who are hostile, angry or agitated. Our rangers need to have the skills to handle those types of situations safely, and that’s what we’re hoping to achieve during this workshop,” said event coordinator and Natural Resource Specialist and Park Ranger John Malone.
Rangers used this time to discuss topics of interest with veteran rangers, new rangers, and Corps leadership. They also received recognition from Nashville District leadership for all their hard work and dedication to the Corps mission.
“Our Rangers have a challenging job, protecting our natural resources while allowing for responsible growth and public interests. They continually assist visitors and stakeholders at our lake projects, taking on this great responsibility to promote boating and water safety education, manage natural resources, and assist nearby landowners with permit actions,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Sahl, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander.
Members of the Nashville District Motorboat Operators Course Team were awarded the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Water Safety Team Award for fiscal year 2022 in recognition of their outstanding efforts in promoting the Corps’ Water Safety Mission. This regional award was presented to the MOCT for training and mentoring USACE employees in boating safety principles and procedures.
Awardees in attendance were Technical Support Branch Operations Section Chief Trey Church, Resource Manager Kayl Kite, Resource Manager Greg Thomas, Park Ranger Terry Martin, Park Ranger Tyler Matthews, Park Ranger Wesley Davenport, and Park Ranger Tanner Rich.
The Nashville District Motorboat Licensing Examiners provided support to several Nashville District locations throughout the year. Instructors overcame many obstacles during 2022 including the ever-changing COVID-19 protocols for students, a lower-than-normal instructor roster due to travel restrictions, and a higher number of students due to previous pandemic obstacles. They also provided appropriate classroom logistics and safety measures.
“The group’s efforts reflect their commitment to the safety and well-being of motorboat operators within the Nashville District and the visiting public. Through their advanced skills and a “team-first” attitude, the MOLE team played a key part in mission execution. Their exceptional quality of work reflects superior professional standards and dedication to performing at the highest level,” said Church.
The workshop took months of preparation and planning by the event planning team. Team members helped with course setup, schedule implementation, and other important tasks throughout the week.
Park Ranger and Natural Resource Specialist Giovanny Espinoza said he was excited to attend his first ranger workshop and meet rangers from other Corps locations.
“I’ve been working for the Corps since June, so I’m still kind of new here and before today I had only met a few rangers at the lakes I’d been to. It’s great to be here and see so many other rangers from across the Nashville District. Some have been with the Corps for more than 15 years, which is inspiring to me because I can see myself working for the Corps for a long time, climbing up the ladder while learning and helping people along the way,” said Espinoza.
Natural Resource Specialist Park Ranger Philip Sliger has attended over 14 Ranger Worships during his time with the Corps. He said there is always a ton of valuable information he takes away from this event every year.
“I think it's extremely important for rangers to attend these kinds of workshops because of the safety aspect of our jobs. A lot of the topics that we talked about go hand-in-hand with our day-to-day jobs and duties that we will see and encounter at the lake,” said Sliger.
Attending this event helped rangers meet their annual required eight hours of visitor assistance training and self-defense and de-escalation training to maintain their citation authority. This year’s workshop was the first time since 2020 that the entire natural resource management community has gathered in-person since the COVID-travel restrictions were lifted.
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 www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.
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