To help share the importance of water safety, we rely on the public, our water safety rangers and our partners to assist in getting the word out. This year we will attend several events conducting water safety outreach across four states.
“The Kansas City District is constantly seeking opportunities to connect with and educate the general public on water safety and recreation opportunities,” said Kyle Ruona, public safety program manager. “We provide information and resources needed to develop knowledgeable, safe recreation habitats.”
A primary example of partnering for water safety is the Country Stampede, hosted at Tuttle Creek State Park in Manhattan, Kansas. As a local business with year-round ties to the Tuttle Creek Lake community, the coordinators understand the need for water safety and are supportive of providing the Corps of Engineers an opportunity to engage our shared audience.
“Averaging over 150,000 in attendance each year, the Country Stampede is one of the largest water safety outreach opportunities for us,” says Melissa Bean, park manager at Tuttle Creek Lake. “A large portion of that audience are males 18-35, our key demographic when it comes to promoting water safety. Statistics show this demographic accounts for the highest percentage of water fatalities annually in the nation. Getting these guys to understand risks in and around the water, and recruiting them to promote water safety to their peers is far more effective than any poster or public service announcement we could come up with. It's an invaluable education opportunity. When you engage them one-on-one they are more receptive and very supportive of water safety."
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism partners with the Corps lakes in Kansas throughout the year, but specifically during the week of the Country Stampede, this partnership is more visible to Tuttle Creek Lake visitors.
“We don’t just talk water safety, we also enforce it in concert with partnering agencies. Year-round initiatives include a variety of water safety related events including saturation boat enforcement patrols, vessel safety check stations at launch ramps, a variety of water safety presentations, and many other initiatives,” explains Bean.
“Each organization brings certain skills, tools, resources to public events,” states Todd Lovin, Tuttle Creek State Park manager with KDWPT. “Due to the Stampede, the main lake of Tuttle Creek sees significant boating traffic and that becomes more of a multi-jurisdictional effort. State park rangers patrol land-based state park areas, KDWPT game wardens from the Law Enforcement Division patrol water-based activities as does the Corps.”
Another key event coming up is Jun. 15 at the Springfield Cardinals baseball game. Bobber the Water Safety Dog will throw out the first pitch of the game while Corps park rangers staff a water safety booth and partake in a live radio interview with the JOCK 98.7 to discuss water safety topics.
“Why would we talk about water safety at a baseball game someone might ask,” says Jordan Griffin, Stockton Lake park ranger. “This event is an excellent opportunity to be proactive and speak to individuals about things they may encounter while out on area lakes and streams.”
Throughout the season, the Springfield Cardinals distribute game day materials with water safety information and broadcasts a public service announcement highlighting the importance of water safety during all 140 games.
“It is important for the Cardinals and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to partner for several reasons,” informs Zack Pemberton, Springfield Cardinals Manager of Premium Sales and Marketing. “First and foremost, the Cardinals are always looking to be good stewards in the community and support important causes. With the number of lakes in this area, we feel it’s important to get behind the efforts of the Corps of Engineers to promote water safety throughout the area. With over five million fans entering our gates over the last 13 years, we are proud to support the Corps of Engineers and provide them with a voice in the Springfield Community.”
The Corps wants to remind people that life jackets save lives. So please wear it during your next outing.
Check the Kansas City District’s public safety and recreation events calendar to see where and when lake staff will be within a short drive of your community! http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Locations/