From left: Kevin Stover, 33 years, Field Technician Supervisor, Resource Data & Restoration. Richard Gant, 34 years, Field Technician Supervisor, Resource Projects. Kevin Love, 35 years, Manager, Land Resources. Mike Holtkamp, 35 years, Director, Operations, Maintenance & Construction Division
Five Staff Members Share Memories at a Roundtable Interview
How would you describe the District when you first started working here?
Vance: It was like a family. My original department director would call our staff together to give us a pep talk and say a prayer before we started a large project. If there were ever any issues, he’d call me into his office and speak to me as if I were his son. I had a lot of respect for him.
Stover: It was very personal. Since I was still in high school when I was offered a full-time position, the Governing Board used to monitor my report card.
Gant: When I was hired, they took me around the campus and introduced me to every single employee.
How did day-to-day business differ from today?
Gant: There were no computers and no copy machines. Maps were drawn by hand with paper and colored pencils.
Love: Field trucks didn’t have air conditioning and very few had two-way radios. If you got in trouble, you were on your own.
Stover: Our only communication from the field to the office was by using a calling card on a pay phone.
Talk about the opportunities you have had at the District.
Holtkamp: In my early years at the District, I was extremely fortunate to be mentored by an ex-construction engineer. His guidance on project management, contracts and construction documents has been invaluable to me while working here.
Love: I feel like I fell into the best job in the world. I’ve gotten paid to go out on some of the finest, last remaining natural habitats left in Florida.
Stover: After Hurricane Charlie, our entire department was called to help run the distribution center in Arcadia. It was very gratifying to work alongside law enforcement and the National Guard to help people.
What is one of your fondest memories at the District?
Gant: My fondest memory is all the friendships that I made throughout the years. A lot of good people have worked at the District and that’s probably why I collect so many photographs.
Love: Back in the ‘80s, I brought a group of Florida artists to Orange Lake in the Green Swamp to show them some beautiful places to paint. I remember standing there by the lake as everyone stood in awe of the scenery and snapped photographs. Afterward, one of the artists gave me a painting of exactly how it looked the day we went out. It’s still on my wall today.
Holtkamp: My fondest memory is meeting and falling in love with my wife, Loretta, who was a new hydrologist in the District’s Planning Department. Thirty years ago I encouraged her to attend an American Society of Civil Engineers meeting at the University of South Florida. Afterward, we ran off to a pub, and the rest is history.
What are some of the District’s biggest changes or accomplishments while you have worked here?
Vance: One big change that I’m proud of is how the District has moved from being just a flood control agency to focusing on the protection and conservation of our waterways.
Holtkamp: When I look over the 35 years that I’ve been here, I think it’s fantastic that we’ve been able to protect so much land by putting it into public ownership through programs such as Save Our Rivers, P2000 and Florida Forever. The preservation of that land is our version of Central Park in New York City.