Employee Spotlight: Robin Nitcher

Published May 31, 2023
A woman shoulder up is standing in front of a white wall wearing a blue polo.

Robin Nitcher, administrative officer, at Pomona Lake, Kansas.

Woman in striped shirt hands man in sunglasses and long sleeve green shirt a white and orange hang tag pass through a window while both are smiling.

Robin Nitcher, administrative officer, at Pomona Lake, Kansas hands a visitor a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat launch pass at the Pomona Lake Project Office circa 2005.

Most U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ lake projects are within 50 miles of a major metropolitan area. Many of those who work for our lake and project offices have grown up in the community they work in. Sometimes, those who grew up in the project’s backyard are the best stewards for the it.

One such steward is Robin Nitcher, administrative officer at Pomona Lake project. Nitcher grew up three miles from Pomona Lake located in Vassar, Kansas, and would frequently visit before she became an employee. In May 1986, she started as seasonal clerk before working her way to a permanent position. She worked her first stretch at Pomona Lake until 2008 and then transferred to Melvern Lake. She worked at Melvern Lake for two years before transferring to Perry Lake to work as an administrative officer.

While at Perry Lake, Nitcher took the brave leap and deployed to Afghanistan as a USACE civilian employee from October 2011 to October 2012.

“You get in a little bubble and don’t get outside of it. I just wanted to go do it [deploy] and gain the experience,” said Nitcher.

Nitcher’s bubble expanded when she was stationed at the Qalaa House compound in Kabul, Afghanistan. While serving as the administrative assistant for the compound, she could not leave regularly, but she stilled gained invaluable experiences. She oversaw travel, timekeeping and housing for those on the compound.

“It’s a whole different world. You meet so many people there and make a lot of friends. When you’re on a compound like that, it’s more like a family. One friend and his wife still come to our house every year,” said Nitcher.

While deploying as a civilian was a choice she made, she said becoming a part of the administrative field was just her being at the right place at the right time. Before working at Pomona Lake, Nitcher worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. One day she was serving the manager of Pomona Lake, when he offered her the job as an administrative assistant.

“He asked if I wanted a job, and I explained I had two jobs. So, he asked if I wanted one job and told me to come up to the office and apply,” said Nitcher.

After completing her application and interview, Nitcher was hired right then and there.

“I didn’t have any plan to be in the administrative field, but it just worked out that way. It was a good decision for me” said Nitcher.

Nitcher is now the go-to trainer for all new administrative assistants in the Kansas City District after helping early on in her career to train an administrative assistant at a neighboring lake project.

“I really enjoy training because I enjoy sharing the knowledge and seeing them succeed,” said Nitcher.

She has trained administrative professionals at Wilson, Melvern and Perry Lakes, and even the Missouri River Area Office. As the resident district trainer, she is able to create lasting relationships with the other administrative professionals. However, Nitcher relies on her co-workers, too, and will ask them questions when she needs help.

“The thing about our job is it’s never the same every day,” said Nitcher.

Each day brings something different and Nitcher has a few memories that stand out to her. During her time at Melvern Lake, she met Scott Rice, who was a park ranger at the time. Rice knew the hard work Nitcher was putting in training other administrative officers including training the new administrative officer for Melvern Lake, a job which she had applied for.

“Robin has a heart of gold and is first to provide support to others both in the workplace and personal life,” said Rice.

In 2015, Nitcher was finally able to come back home to Pomona Lake after the previous administrative officer retired. Now, her current boss is Rice who is the operations project manager for Pomona and Melvern Lakes.

“It’s special. It’s funny how it just all comes around and works out fine,” said Nitcher.

Besides stepping outside of her comfort zone by working for different lake projects and deploying to Afghanistan, Nitcher also remembers a day she had to go above and beyond her administrative duties while working at Pomona Lake. She helped assist in the first aid of one of her coworkers who had a deep laceration on his leg.

Another one of their coworkers was an EMT and both women quickly worked to tend to the victim’s wound. At the time, there were not many bandages in the office, but Nitcher had recently given birth and had diapers on hand. Together they used the diapers to pack the wound. Nitcher had the largest vehicle of the office because she has five children, so she transported him to the local hospital in Ottawa where he was then sent on to Kansas City by ambulance.

While most days may not be as adrenaline-filled as packing wounds with diapers, Nitcher enjoys her job and does not plan to retire anytime soon.

“You get to see people come in every day who you get to help answer their questions. I enjoy the people I work with, it’s more like a family here,” said Nitcher.