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Posted 5/6/2013

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By Eileen Williamson, Public Affairs Specialist

OMAHA, Neb. - May is National Water Safety Month and May 6 has been deemed Otter Spotter Day!

In January, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District  launched its partnership with the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation to promote water safety within the Omaha District including Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska.

More than 50 cities around the country and the world have volunteers participating in the Foundation's Third Annual Otter Spotter Day.

The Northwestern Division and Omaha District are showing off their Josh the Otter T-Shirts and fans.

Partnering with organizations such as the Collingsworth Foundation allows both parties to more effectively coordinate outreach efforts, share resources and contacts and develop materials that share common messages.

The Corps’ Water Safety Program aims to increase public awareness of boating and water safety through educational materials, products, outreach and programs. Partnering with organizations such as the Collingsworth Foundation and its Josh the Otter program allows the Corps to expand its distribution network of boating and water safety educational materials and products while limiting costs.

As temperatures warm up, water related activities increase along with the potential for water related accidents.

By emphasizing water safety before visitors return to recreation activities, the Corps aims to prevent water related accidents and minimize their impacts by encouraging visitors to wear life jackets. 

"Memorial Day often marks the first real opportunity for people to get back on the water," said Jolene Hulsing, a natural resources specialist with the Omaha District. "People may not have their 'sea legs' or be as comfortable on the water due to the time away. We want to get safety on their minds before they get in the water."

The Corps actively promotes boating and water safety through a variety of efforts aimed at a broad demographic. Through a variety of activities, national water safety mascots and targeted marketing, the Corps engages the public at numerous events and develops a variety of materials carrying water-safety messages.

The Collingsworth Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, was formed to promote water safety and drowning prevention through a combination of awareness, education, and training directed at both children and adults. The foundation’s central message promotes water safe behaviors in children by instructing them to avoid water unless accompanied by an adult. The foundation’s widely recognized mascot, Josh the Otter, and associated marketing efforts help to engage children and educate adults on safe behaviors and habits in and around the water.

The Corps and the Collingsworth Foundation anticipate cooperative efforts including educational outreach, developing water safety education materials, promoting common messages, special event programs and planning, and working together to promote water safety messaging.