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Posted 12/16/2014

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By Erica Skolte


It may come as a surprise to some that the National Park Service is not the largest federal provider of outdoor recreation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the nation’s leading provider of outdoor and water-based recreation with over 420 lake and river projects in 43 states and over 370 million visitors per year. In fact, many of the Corps’ missions revolve around water, including navigation and water safety.

 Corps park ranger Brian Scott Older and water safety volunteers Michael and Terri Young, exhibited at Kiwanis Kids Day in Labelle, Florida educating attendees about the Corps’ mission and water safety. LaBelle is located along the Caloosahatchee River, which is part of the Okeechobee Waterway on the west side of Lake Okeechobee in south Florida.

“The event was an incredible day of fun for all, including us. There was something for everyone - music, food, rides, games, booths, and yes, clowns! We interacted with over 450 children and their families, promoting water safety and the missions of the Corps,” said Older. “It was a really great day and a lot of fun too!”

The Youngs joined Older at the Corps interpretive multi-use trailer. They have a long history of teaching water safety for the Corps. They took the south Florida water safety program to Georgia, and started a program at Strom Thurman Lake, several years ago.

Older also manned the Corps booth and gave out water safety goodies to children and families, including the “Bobber the Water Safety Dog” coloring books, with information in both English and Spanish.

“We were very excited to have the Corps of Engineers participate in the annual Kiwanis Kids Day!” said Brenda Barnes, who works with the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades counties and helped organize the event. “Brian and the volunteers did such a great job interacting with the kids and their families!”

Alva Florida Jacksonville District Kiwanis. USACE LaBelle U.S. Army Corps of Engineers W.P. Franklin water safety