Eleven United States Army Corps of Engineers employees visited Fort Leonard Wood as part of their ninth annual Leadership Development Program, Monday through Wednesday.

The USACE program is for leadership development, which supports coaching and mentoring for a successful learning culture and enhanced leaders at all levels according to their website.

The Army training the employees receive may offer something broader.

"We are part of the Army, but a lot of folks don't feel that," said Jonathan Petry, the lead program manager for this year's LDP. "You know, as a park ranger or project manager, how do you connect to the Army. We do a big mission down here, building all of the military facilities but we wanted to see what our customers, the service members and their Families, go through and experience."

During an informative presentation at his headquarters, Lt. Col. Charles Gray, commander, 31st Engineer Battalion, expressed just how connected these USACE employees are to Fort Leonard Wood.

"This is a Corps of Engineer facility we're in. You get to see the impact of the facilities you provide, on the Soldiers who will use them," Gray said. "You have Fort Leonard Wood right in your footprint and you get to come out and get a taste of what our Soldiers do."

Gray continued to share with the LDP group how their reach was greater than their office.

"You're not just sitting in a cubicle at Kansas City District in a design role or in a park ranger role. You are part of the Army organization. We're all part of this big team," Gray said.

The group lived in the barracks and dressed in Army uniforms during the two days they were here. They also ate at a dining facility, conducted a shoot house exercise, used heavy equipment simulators, completed an obstacle course and got to repel down a 45-foot wall.

"I've been with the Corps for 10 years and haven't done anything like this before," said Shannon Henry, national resource specialist park ranger at Pomme de Terre Lake in southwest Missouri. "It's been really fast-paced and busy, but it's interesting. I have a better appreciation for the Army and what Soldiers do on a day-to-day basis and what the Army does as a whole. I am thankful for this experience and happy I got to be here."

The Army training at Fort Leonard Wood is the kick off to the yearlong LDP.

"They will go through a college level course the rest of the year so this is one of their first experiences to bond with everybody, bond with their team, and with senior leaders in the district," Petry said.

Petry spoke for the group about why the training here meant so much to the program.

"For these emerging leaders to go through this shared experience plus see what our real customers, the Soldiers, go through is why we're here," Petry said.