Employee of the Quarter: Gina Levesque
Gina Levesque, OCC Water Quality Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Coordinator, was recognized at the September 2013 Commission full staff meeting for being named Employee of the Quarter.
Gina is responsible for enrolling and managing CREP contracts in the Illinois River and Eucha-Spavinaw watersheds.
Gina was selected Employee of the Quarter because of her commitment and dedication to the Commission and the Illinois River watershed. Gina not only manages the CREP program, but also took on a leadership role on the Illinois River Stream Restoration Project. During this project, she helped secure landowner permissions, provided required information for the Corps of Engineers 404 permitting process, helped oversee construction and even helped serve a home-cooked meal to the out-of-state construction crew that worked to restore over 6,000 feet of streambank.
She promoted the Commission’s work in the watershed by participating in two television interviews and being quoted in numerous newspaper articles to help educate citizens about natural channel design, and the importance of riparian areas to streams.
In conjunction with the restoration project, Gina organized a Riparian Vegetation Workshop, held in March 2013, which attracted over 50 participants. Participants in the workshop also served as volunteers, spending two rather cold afternoons planting several thousand trees. Gina worked to gather additional volunteers and OSU students who spent the rest of that week planting the remaining 10,000 trees she had gathered. She was able, through local nurseries, to get over $7,000 worth of trees donated for the project!
Gina facilitated a partnership between the Cherokee Nation Foundation and the city of Tahlequah to plant several culturally significant trees in the area along with interpretive signage.
In addition, Gina was part of a committee that organized the first Southwest Stream Restoration Conference in San Antonio, TX, held May 2013. She organized and participated in a riparian vegetation pre-conference workshop and moderated a session during the workshop. As a result of her participation in the organization of the conference, she ensured OCC would be known as a go-to agency for information on stream restoration in Oklahoma.
Throughout the process, Gina worked to educate herself about techniques and processes used in stream restoration, recognizing that OCC needed to redevelop expertise in natural channel design restoration projects if we were going to be overseeing them. She sought formal and informal training opportunities and has become well versed in the vernacular.
Gina is dedicated to her job and willing to go the extra mile (or hour) as needed to ensure a project is successful.