FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 14, 2010) -- Employees from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visited Fort Leonard Wood, Oct. 6-8, to get a taste of life in boots. The civilians donned Army Combat Uniforms and completed several Soldierly tasks and drills to include completing the grenade assault course, the obstacle course, the repel and rope bridge and the Team Development Course.

These 14 employees are a part of the Leadership Development Program from the USACE Kansas City District. The three day event is a part of a yearlong leadership course in which these 14 potential future supervisors learn about skills necessary to be a successful leader as well as what they are made of.

"This event gives our emerging leaders an opportunity to view who our customer is so to speak," said Col. Tony Hoffman, district commander. "It is three days of them in uniform, living the life of a Soldier, and they participate in events that not only build them as a team, but also teaches them about themselves."

This will be the 12th year for the LDP, and competition is stiff.

"Participants are chosen from the five work sites within the district by their supervisors," Hoffman said. "They must then submit paperwork, to include a statement as to why they want to participate, and must then interview with a board."

For Tom Zikmund, who has been with USACE for 12 years as a natural resource specialist, the skills learned within the year of monthly classes, mentor meetings, and events such as this one, is bar none.

"Not only do you network with people, but you also gain a bigger picture of what exactly we are providing to the country," Zikmund said. "You push yourself to the point of exhaustion and you don't forget to help your team mate out. That translates into the business world as well, because the course is so diverse that you can not help but to look at all the different points of leadership styles and break out of your comfort zone in order to strengthen your skills."

The program drew both veterans as well as new employees, but the impact fell short on no one.

"It is so important and valuable to learn the skills that you learn in this program," Jenny Hu, who has been with USACE a little more than a year as a electrical engineer, said. "This program has already been beneficial and this is just the kickoff event. I have already learned important things about myself as a leader, as well as different leadership styles and skills."

Though it was the last day of this event, it is the first event in a yearlong learning experience as USACE shapes their leaders of tomorrow.

(Editor's note: Jasmine Walthall is the assistant editor of the Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON.)