Leah Deeds, Park Ranger, Saylorville Lake
Deeds continues to push herself, and since she's no longer moving from one Corps district to another, the Rock Island District, Saylorville Lake, and the public, are now the beneficiaries of her hard work and dedication.
"I'm the team leader for the Interpretive Services and Outreach and Volunteer Programs," said Deeds. "My team recruits, trains and monitors volunteers in many positions around the lake. I schedule, assign and sometimes even get to present programs for schools, community groups, and the general public. Our programs usually relate to environmental topics, recreation safety, or Saylorville Lake missions. I also manage the visitor center. My job often requires me to work in teams with other state and local agencies, community groups, and businesses to plan special events."
Deeds also knows about working for other agencies, because she had the chance to work at an Idaho national monument and preserve.
"I did get to volunteer with the park service one summer at Craters of the Moon National Monument, but found that working for the Corps was actually more flexible and fun," said Deeds. "Truth be told, my dream was to work for the National Park Service, but a friend who was a park ranger/manager in the Omaha District encouraged me to try the Co-op (Co-operative Education) program (now known as the Student Career Experience Program) with the Corps of Engineers. Mark Twain Lake offered me a co-op position and I jumped on it."
That position at Mark Twain Lake, working for the St. Louis District in the spring of '97, proved to be the starting point for the Mizzou alumni who walked into the job, while she was earning a bachelor of science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Missouri - Columbia. Since her days at Mark Twain Lake, Deeds has accomplished a lot and continues to be involved in a diverse amount of activities at Saylorville Lake, where she has worked since early summer 2003.
"Until I got married, I loved the mobility of a federal job," said Deeds. "Now, I would have to say that the Corps of Engineers interpretation program gives me the flexibility to try new things," said Deeds. "This year, we planned lots of mini-events and programs for the public to find out what will work for our audience. I like the idea that it's okay to try new things."
Deeds enjoys the diversity of her job, but there are certain aspects she likes more than others.
"I would have to say that my favorite part of the job is giving programs," said Deeds. "It doesn't really matter who the audience is or the topic. I get excited about helping people understand and learn to interact with the outdoors."
Deeds is married, has a 5-year-old stepson, and enjoys their year-old lab mix that she says, "eats everything."
As for hobbies, she said they vary from month to month.
"I'm currently into sewing, reading and playing the piano," said Deeds. "I'm learning to rollerblade, but I haven't figured out how to stop safely ... yet. Camping season is here, and this year I hope to go at least once a month."
Deeds' advice to anyone reading this article is, "Have fun, trust fate, and follow your own path."