ALEXANDRIA, Va -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Institute for Water Resources (IWR) is strengthening the nation’s ability to solve complex water resource challenges through leadership development. Six planners from USACE districts nationwide completed IWR’s 2022 Planning Associates advanced training program, receiving their certification during an Aug. 24 graduation ceremony.
The training targets journeyman-level professionals in the field of water resources at the GS-9 through the GS-13 level of Federal service. The program consists of approximately 15 weeks of rigorous training over a two-year period.
“As America’s engineers, success in solving the nation’s toughest challenges goes beyond our ability to engineer solutions for today, but also depends on our aptitude in planning to effectively tackle future challenges. Graduate Planning Associates broaden competencies in this area to solve complex water resources problems and challenges,” said Lisa Rabbe, IWR Planning Associates Program Manager.
The Institute for Water Resources’ forward-leaning approach is critical as USACE seeks to address challenges facing communities ranging from climate change, and its subsequent effects - increased flooding, rising sea levels, shrinking ice fields, wildfires, and droughts. Their efforts are aimed at ensuring lasting social benefits to communities through innovative projects provided by the agency on behalf of the nation.
Rabbe says developing expert planners who have the experience, analysis, intuition, inspiration and collaboration will be key to increasing the nation’s water resiliency. “Planners help decision makers identify problems, develop solutions, and consider the importance of the conflicting values inherent in any solution.”
Overall, program graduates expressed their enthusiasm for the program in strengthening their ability to address large and small water resource issues to include flooding, degraded ecosystems, streambank erosion and stormwater management.
“I viewed the Planning Associates program as an intensive test of our skills and abilities as planners and as a compass to direct our future endeavors based on these strengths,” stated Alex Hoxsie, USACE Chicago District Environmental and Cultural Resources Section Chief.
Hoxsie also added that by expanding knowledge and understanding of all available resources, he, along with other program graduates, will advance their abilities to address current and future water resource challenges in their communities.
The leadership program curriculum includes experiential training in the USACE Civil Works business programs, case studies, individual and group projects, instructional training, and experiences. Hoxsie says an added benefit of the program includes ample team building and networking opportunities with leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as fellow graduates. “The bonds we formed in our cohort as a result of this program are unique in the professional world and something that I will continue to cherish and lean on long into the future.”
The graduating members of the 2022 IWR Planning Associates Class are as follows:
Hannah Hadley, Project Manager/Lead Planner, Walla Walla District
Alex Hoxsie, Section Chief, Environmental and Cultural Resources, Chicago District
Patricia Naquin, Senior Biologist, New Orleans District
Tina Teed, Plan Formulation RTS, Sacramento District
Amy Thompson, Watershed Planning Section Chief, Jacksonville District
Kenneth Woodard, Plan Formulation Section Chief, Huntington District
The 2023 class is currently in session, with their upcoming graduation slated for August 2023. Selectees for the class of 2024 will be announced no later than Nov. 1, 2022.