In December, several District employees received recognition for their outstanding work and performance during fiscal year 2013.
Kristopher Schafer, chief, Planning Branch, was recognized as the District Supervisor of the Year during the District’s Winter Ball, Dec. 6, 2013. “I am truly honored to have received this award. But I have to say, being surrounded by such exceptionally talented and dedicated folks really makes my job very easy!”
Following Schafer’s recognition, ecologist Ondrea Hummel, in the Environmental Studies Unit, was recognized as the District’s Employee of the Year. This is the first time an employee in this section has received the award according to Julie Alcon, chief, Environmental Resources Section.
"I'm so proud that our ecosystem restoration work is being recognized and that Albuquerque District is known for the great work that we do under that mission! My goal is to do what we need to do to get the project on the ground. Thanks to all of my fellow Project Delivery Team members and especially to the Environmental Resources Section and Planning Branch family!"
Also during the Winter Ball, John Mueller, park ranger at Abiquiu Lake, received the District’s first Ranger of the Year award for recognition of his outstanding service as Lead Natural Resource Specialist.
“John Mueller's dedication to public safety and community involvement in the shared stewardship of our recreational, natural, and cultural resources is the centerpiece of his service to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, his community, and his country. Mr. Mueller's accomplishments and devoted civilian service reflect great credit upon him, the Albuquerque District, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
Mueller was involved in the creation of a new annual Earth Day event where the public can learn about the American Kestrel bird and create habitat. He was also instrumental in a successful National Public Lands Day Event with five main projects and nine different work groups totaling 105 volunteers. He also served as the District’s Water Safety Committee Chairperson and was involved in several rescues, including spotting a near-drowning victim struggling in rough water without a lifejacket and pulling him aboard the patrol boat just before he went under.
“I am incredibly honored to be receiving Albuquerque District's first Park Ranger of the Year Award, especially due to the number of talented park rangers that we have throughout the District. Having the ability to interact with the public and help people on a daily basis as a public servant is just one of the many rewarding experiences of being a USACE Park Ranger, and then to be unexpectedly recognized with this award is truly amazing and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Mueller said of receiving the award.
During the District’s quarterly town hall meeting Dec. 12, 2013, a few other awards were presented.
The Pride in Service Award was presented to Park Ranger Austin Kuhlman “for exceptional service.” Kuhlman “displays constant professionalism, creativity, and unflinching dedication to his duties as a public servant and trusted peer. This reflects highly upon him, the Albuquerque District, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” Kuhlman is a student trainee in natural resources at Abiquiu Lake.
Cochiti Park Ranger Nicholas Parks received the First Responder Humanitarian of the Year award. The award citation reads “You are a problem solver and forward thinking towards improving Cochiti Project water safety values and implementation. Your highly skilled boat operation skills have proven to be invaluable in emergency situations. Your dedicated work ethic and “can do” attitude reflect great credit upon you, the Albuquerque District, and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
The 2013 Seasonal Ranger of the Year award went to Nathaniel Naranjo, at Abiquiu Lake. “You have taken increasingly larger roles of responsibility while practicing a contagious positive attitude that contributes to the strong team atmosphere at the Abiquiu Lake Project Office. Your dedicated work ethic and “can do” attitude reflect great credit upon you, the Albuquerque District, and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers”
District recreation sites Trinidad Lake, John Martin Reservoir, Cochiti Lake, Santa Rosa Lake and Conchas Lake received safety awards for zero lost-time accidents in fiscal year 2013.
After receiving the awards on behalf of the lakes, Mark Yuska, chief of Operations Division said, “It is easy to remember the importance of safety after an accident happens. Our annual recognition of safety at lake projects, where many job hazards are, reminds us of safety by focusing on the positive; that accidents didn't happen! Keeping this well-deserved recognition alive and present where our people work and face hazardous conditions is critical to making workplace safety a matter of pride and constant endeavor for our most important resource – our people. To our lake projects: I am extremely proud of your accomplishments in keeping our people safe, and keep up the great work!”
On the construction side, the District’s Cannon Air Force Base, Kirtland AFB and El Paso resident offices received safety awards for zero lost-time accidents in construction contracts.