By Amy Redmond
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Despite tightened project budgets and limited resources, two Nashville District lakes were nationally and internationally recognized recently for their staffs' creative and resourceful efforts to increase public safety during the 2011 recreation season.
Lake Barkley Resource Manager Michael Looney and Old Hickory Lake Resource Manager Frederick Bell, both from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, received an Award of Merit March 5 from the National Water Safety Congress during the International Boating and Water Safety Summit in San Diego.
According to Lake Barkley and Old Hickory Lake's award nominations, both ranger teams amplified their presence and education outreach in and around each lake using the social media site Facebook, increasing patrol time on the water, and providing more water safety focused presentations, programs, and events. They were also recognized for displaying great awareness for danger and taking quick action on three separate occasions while performing routine boat patrols that averted several potential fatalities.
In 2011, the Lake Barkley team notably coordinated with Lamar Advertising in Cookeville, Tenn., and received four complimentary digital billboard spaces at no cost to the government. The park rangers ran water safety messages to educate the public about the importance of wearing life jackets at the lake. The total estimated viewership of these billboards was 180,000 visitors per month during the entire recreation season.
"(I'm) proud to be associated with such a professional group of people who despite adversity, never waver in their positive attitude and dedication to protecting visitors and saving lives," said Looney.
Old Hickory also showed their resourcefulness in 2011 by establishing partnerships with several schools, colleges, clubs, businesses, state agencies, and TV stations.
Park rangers set up a water safety booth at Nashville Predators NHL games, and at Middle Tennessee State University and high school sporting events. They were highlighted in a three minute educational video posted on YouTube on the topic of "Reach, Throw, Row, but Don't Go," a safety topic about what to do to assist someone who has fallen into the water. Channel 5 Plus and TV show Fishin' Afflictions also featured park rangers' safety messages in a weekly water safety public service announcement to an estimated three million viewers.
"I'm extremely pleased that the rangers were recognized by the council for their hard work. They all stepped up to the plate and took on the challenge to increase the number of water safety contacts. The award and recognition were well deserved," Bell said.
Award Officiate and Region 3 Vice President Ernest Lentz said that the Lake Barkley staff stepped up their water safety program to increase public awareness.
"Our award program gives the 'Congress' the opportunity to say 'thank you' and to inspire others to give their best for water safety," Lentz said. "The personnel at both of the lakes are making a difference in water safety and saving lives and the National Water Safety Congress congratulates them on a job well done."
In addition to the Award of Merit, Old Hickory Lake placed second in the summit's media contest for their educational video on "Reach, Throw, Row, but Don't Go."
Carolyn Bauer, Nashville District Water Safety Task Force coordinator and natural resource specialist, said she is delighted that the Old Hickory Park Rangers received recognition for the "Reach, Throw, Row, Don't Go" public service announcement.
"The Old Hickory Park Rangers did a series of very informative PSA's that have been very effective at informing the public about water safety. All nineteen PSA's are great and it's commendable that the National Water Safety Congress recognized them as winners," Bauer said.