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Posted 6/1/2017

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By Sarah P. Bennett

In preparation for the recreation seasons, more than 350 park rangers, natural resource managers and environmental compliance coordinators gathered in Norman, Okl.  For the first time in seven years, they had the opportunity to engage colleagues from across the Corps to strengthen and develop technical competencies, foster learning opportunities, and build strong communities of practice. 
Ten Portland District employees joined current and future Corps leaders at the National Center for Employee Development in Norman, Okl., for the 2017 Natural Resources Management (NRM) Workshop.  Eight members of the district delegation were sought out as national experts and invited to speak on topics ranging from environmental compliance to innovative sources of funding, and from water safety to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
“This recognition shows the national reputations our employees, our programs and our District have across the Corps,” said Tom Ibsen, Portland District Chief of Natural Resource Management and Environmental Compliance.  “I was proud to hear so many positive comments about the sessions led by our stellar staff.”
The workshop featured over 90 breakout sessions across the six different NRM tracks: recreation, environmental compliance, environmental stewardship, partnerships and volunteers, education and interpretation, and “cross-cutting” interdisciplinary topics. 
One theme common to all of the tracks was safety, for both Corps employees and for visitors and users of Corps sites.  "The workshop agenda reflects our priorities, and public safety is always at the top of the list," said Park Ranger Amber Tilton, who led a panel on engaging the community in water safety.
In addition to Tom Ibsen, the workshop was attended by Tim Darland, Natural Resource Manager, Kevin Moynahan, Operations Project Manager, and Scott Kraynak, Natural Resource Specialist from John Day Lock and Dam; Andre Jovanovic, Natural Resource Specialist, and Wes Messinger, Botanist, from the Willamette Valley Project; Robin Norris, Natural Resource Specialist from Bonneville Dam; Amber Tilton, Park Ranger from The Dalles; Art Leskowich, Environmental Compliance Coordinator from The Moorings; and Ken Duncan, Environmental Compliance and Sustainability Manager at the District Office. 
The group of attendees represents only a small portion of Natural Resource Management and Environmental Compliance team at the Portland District, and they will share the insights and best practices from the national workshop with their colleagues to ensure the continued excellence of Portland programs. 
Recreation opportunities in Portland District provide safe, fun and quality experiences to visitors and local communities, by improving quality of life and connecting the public with the region’s shared natural and man-made resources. Recreation visitors to Corps sites also bring in $342 million and support 2,655 jobs in the region.
“I am excited to implement the many great ideas that we acquired during the three day workshop to further strengthen our NRM programs and our service to the region,” Ibsen said.

NRM recreation water safety