News: Corps employee shares passion for youth outreach and teamwork
Story by John Budnik
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District is committed to promoting the studies of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to our nation’s youth.
The initiative starts with the dedicated employees that actively engage young minds and challenge them to a higher calling in these fields.
This Employee Spotlight features Janet Post, a regulatory specialist in the Regulatory Division. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with an emphasis in natural resources from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Here, Post shares what inspired her to pursue a career in STEM.
Q: How long have you been with the Alaska District?
A: I have been working for the Alaska District’s Regulatory Division for six years. Prior to working for the Corps, I worked for the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources, Oil and Gas Division.
Q: What do you love about your job?
A: I love the mission, my co-workers, the applicants and the other agencies. I believe that, working together, we can achieve both economic development and environmental stewardship. I feel a great deal of satisfaction when there is a win-win solution for all parties.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a STEM-related career?
A: It all started back in sixth grade. I tried to bring home all the stray animals in the neighborhood and put them in my backyard. My mom was not as excited about the idea as me. In high school, I admired Jacques Cousteau and his work to protect our oceans’ creatures. In college, my favorite classes were about coastal environment, environmental law and environmental planning.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
A: The greatest reward for me is bringing people together to achieve an optimal economic and environmental solution. I was in a meeting with an oil company and the Environmental Protection Agency and the applicant was worried about how it would dispose of the dredging spoils. The EPA explained that sand can be used for the beneficial purpose of beach nourishment and there was an island near the project that had a great need for the dredged material. We had an "ah-ha" moment and then we all said “thank you” to each other and smiled!
Q: What are your interests/hobbies outside of the Corps?
A: I raise two sons, ages 14 and 12. They keep me active playing tennis, hiking and riding our bikes.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career?
A: One afternoon I was sitting in my cubicle when Lt. Col. Mark DeRocchi, deputy commander, came in and awarded me with a Commander’s Coin. It was a complete surprise and the greatest honor.
Q: Can you tell me about your outreach work at elementary schools?
A: I started doing outreach back in 2009 when the Regulatory Division received special funding. I asked my leadership if I could start doing outreach at the local elementary schools and they agreed. So I found a hands-on wetland model on the Internet that we were able to purchase. The district’s visual information specialist helped me create a wonderful graphics presentation, and the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services loaned taxidermy, such as ducks and beaver pelts. It is really rewarding to share with children the importance of protecting wetlands and the work we do in Regulatory.
Q: Can you tell me about your participation in the Corps Leadership Training?
A: My participation in the USACE Leadership Development Program Level II opened my eyes to the Corps beyond the Regulatory Division. First, I learned about the other divisions in the district and then I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, and participate in a leadership seminar where I met participants from the Far East District, Japan District and Honolulu District. This changed my outlook of the Corps from a local to global perspective. I am so proud to be part of our global team.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: I enjoy going with my co-workers to the Vietnamese restaurant just outside the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson installation. So far, I have had the Pho noodles with vegetables, tofu with lemon grass and green curry with eggplant – each very delicious! I am trying to work up the courage to order the fried tilapia which is the entire fish, head and all-deep fried.
Q: What are your favorite movies?
A: I have so many favorites. Recently, it is definitely the “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”