Rocky Rivers: Guiding the Next Generation of Outdoor Enthusiasts

May 7, 2024 2:00 PM ET
Two people posed, hugging. One in a baseball uniform.

I’ve always found it valuable to give your available time to help support and educate the younger generation. Thanks to my career at Covia, I’ve been able to follow this principle and give back to those in my community while following my passion for environmentalism. I am grateful for these past 10 years and the countless opportunities I’ve had to volunteer and guide the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

A Health & Safety Mindset

I started my career by inspecting fire systems for airplane hangars at military bases near my hometown in South Carolina. During that time, I met my lovely wife and moved with her to her hometown of Oregon, IL. It was there that I heard about an open position at Covia for a production supervisor role. While I didn’t have any experience in mining at the time, I was interested and decided to apply anyway. I was hired and have been proud to work here since. In my current role as the environmental health and safety coordinator, I conduct air, water, and personal dust sampling to ensure we are meeting Covia's strict environmental and safety regulations. I’ve always been passionate about the environment, so I love this aspect of my job. I am also in charge of going out to different plants in my area to inspect and make sure health and safety standards are up to code. My main goal when it comes to health and safety is that every Team Member goes home the same way they showed up. I work to ensure they have the skills to stay safe on the job and that they take those skills into their personal lives to keep them, and their families, protected. I find it rewarding that I get to help make Covia a little bit safer than it was the day before.

Encouraging a Love for the Great Outdoors

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time volunteering in my community. I work with a number of local organizations, from coaching a middle school basketball team to managing the Avalanche softball team. I also spend time working with my local chapter of Pheasants Forever and the Oregon, IL Bass Team. I couldn’t be happier with the support Covia has given me throughout my time here. The resources and opportunities to help others they’ve provided have encouraged me to be a force for good. Not only have they helped support my daughter’s sports programs, but they have also gone above and beyond to sponsor several organizations in the community. This includes providing the reclaimed land and ponds that we use for the organizations I volunteer with. I also love to spend time with my family. My favorite hobby is going out to the pond to fish with my daughter. She loves spending time near the water, and I enjoy getting the opportunity to show her the ropes. It’s been a fantastic way to connect with her and share a mutual appreciation for the outdoors.

Project Highlight: Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program

I’ve gotten to work on many projects since I first started at Covia, but the one that I am most proud of is being able to work with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program to help educate women in my community about fishing techniques and the outdoors. We started the program last year – having 20-30 women visit a reclaimed natural area over the course of two weekends to learn how to fish and use different techniques for being out in nature. Covia provided the land for the program, using a reclaimed quarry that was filled with fish from the region. Before the program launched, we worked to create clearings near the pond to make it an ideal location for the participants. I’ve had a lot of fun getting to teach them how to fish, and it’s been rewarding getting to see those in my community gain a new appreciation for the great outdoors. It makes me happy that out of the 10-15 classes currently being offered by the IDNR, this class has been voted the favorite among participants. I even got my daughter interested in the program and she will be helping lead the next group learn the basics of fishing. I’m so excited and proud of her for wanting to volunteer and spend her free time helping others.

Moving Forward and Giving Back

What excites me the most about Covia’s future is that there is a much strong focus on environmental conservation. Throughout Covia’s entire footprint, programs focused on reclamation and conservation have grown tremendously. With so much support, I am confident that we can continue to make a big difference in the environments we operate in. Covia is also making a massive impact in our communities. We have a significant number of people going out into their communities to give back – investing in organizations and causes they believe in. From coaching local sports teams to helping food banks and schools, Team Members are following each other’s leads and pursuing their passions. I am truly excited to see how our organization continues to grow and give back.