Katy Harmon, HSV Lakes Supervisor, the uncommon woman behind the blonde hair and boots, is passionate about her diverse career.

Katy Harmon, Hot Springs Village Lakes Supervisor, has been employed with the POA since 2015. Passionate about her profession, Harmon said, “One of the special aspects of my job is the diversity of projects that I get to work on and the outstanding people I work with.” The lakes and dams are tremendous community assets; taking care of eleven Hot Springs Village recreational lakes, one lake serving as a water reservoir, and fourteen dams* can involve many tasks. Some of these duties are, but are not limited to, maintaining the dams and spillways, controlling and monitoring aquatic vegetation, being mindful of endangered species, keeping track of lake levels and overall lake health, lake dredging, assisting with the Military Fishing Day and the Kids’ Fishing Derby, and so much more. Harmon works closely with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers.

“Overall, my passion is actually quite large, and I strive to continue improving watershed health and providing community education while empowering the next generation of environmental stewards,” enthused the Village Lakes supervisor.

Harmon’s work team consists of Senior Lakes Technician Samuel Scott and Lakes Technician Dakota Gray. Part of what they do is locate drifting buoys, clean debris and logs from lakes, and assist with the abovementioned tasks. Harmon said, “We are a team. I don’t expect anything I wouldn’t do myself from them. The job can be physically challenging, and a lot of manual labor is involved. We work in all seasons, and the temperature ranges from very cold to sweltering.”

Meet Katy Harmon HSV Lakes Supervisor  an uncommon blonde
(Right) Dakota Gray and (left) Samuel Scott demonstrate the size of fish in the village while electrofishing.

Harmon said the team had just completed dredging Lakes Maria and Sophia. Next year, there are plans to draw down and dredge Lake Coronado. The team operates two or three skid steers in the fall and early winter when dredging lakes. The sediment is loaded into a dump truck and transported to the Terlingua Pit, where it is mixed with leaves and other natural debris and turned into soil.

The team monitors lake levels, which can fluctuate greatly depending on precipitation. “During heavy rains, the lakes can jump up a foot, while on the flip side, in the summertime, the lakes can drop two feet. We constantly evaluate the levels,” said Harmon.

The team builds and installs fish habitats year-round as time allows. They collect cedar trees and attach concrete blocks to keep the trees on the bottom of the lake. The habitat locations are documented. Harmon said the reason for the habitats is to protect the smaller species because natural vegetation is often lacking. Shallow fish habitat is much easier to install on a freshly dredged but still unfilled lake. Villagers also donate live-cut Christmas trees after the holiday season to assist with providing habitat.

For the safety of swimmers, the state of Arkansas requires the POA to monitor lake E. coli levels on Cortez and Balboa Beaches four times a year. A baseline level is taken in April. E. coli levels are also taken before Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day (July 4).

Harmon is working to map how water flows in the Village for a Lakes Committee project. Harmon’s job is a balancing act where she works in the field and manages the office work.

Not a frivolous person, Harmon cares for village assets the same as if they were her own. “I know how expensive it is to purchase things, and I maintain and care for village equipment and other assets as if they were my own,” Harmon explained.

Early life and education

Hailing from Benton, Arkansas, Harmon graduated from Benton High School in 2008. Harmon’s mother has a nursing career, while her father is in the car business. Her parents both have early-life rodeo backgrounds, and she shares her mother’s love of horses.

As a child, Harmon was encouraged to go to college and make something of herself to be able to provide financially. After attending six years of college, Harmon graduated in December 2014 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a double major. Harmon found college to be a great life experience, stating she could not have learned anyplace else the many valuable lessons her college education afforded her. Initially, Harmon pursued a degree in criminal justice because she was intrigued by law enforcement’s psychological and justice aspects. As a young person who always dreamed big, she yearned to change the world. After completing all of the criminal justice coursework, Harmon concentrated on her biology minor. It was then that she realized biology was her true love. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, emphasizing fisheries. Harmon also holds a second bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Harmon said, “I know those two degrees seem a little conflicting, but when I graduated from high school, I really did not know what career I wanted to pursue.” As a child, she dreamed of being a marine biologist or a veterinarian.

Harmon said that growing up, she was a tomboy. She loved to swim in lakes and do outside things. She grew up with an older brother; his friends became her friends. “I always hung out with the guys,” shared Harmon. Not the type of little girl to play with Barbie dolls, Harmon found her perfect outdoor opportunity, working for Hot Springs Village as a lakes supervisor, where she could enjoy her love for nature.

Always being very work-oriented, Harmon has a strong work ethic. She was employed during her high school and college years, running an ice cream shop, assisting in a veterinarian’s office, doing clerical work at a pharmacy, and operating a cash register at a popular chain restaurant. She often had two jobs at once and paid for her college education with self-earned funds until the last two years, when she was forced to take out student loans due to coursework requirements, fieldwork, and scheduling conflicts. During the last part of her college experience, she was selected twice to intern at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission despite heavy competition from fellow students.

When off the clock…

Harmon has owned two horses for eight years and is a “mom” to a donkey, which she affectionately calls ‘a character.’ Referring to the equines as her “boys,” she said she has a 24-year-old gray and a 23-year-old sorrel. The three animals are best friends and get along well.

When Harmon started working for the POA, she acquired the horses and donkey from her mother’s horse trainer. Harmon spent over six months caring for the trainer after the trainer suffered from health problems. While the trainer’s health improved, she felt that she could no longer care for her animals and asked Harmon to assume this task when Harmon moved out. Harmon said, “I can’t tell you how humbling and honoring it was when our friend asked me to care for her animals. I take care of them the same way she would.”

In addition, Harmon parents a 350-pound female potbellied pig and four barn cats who are always on the prowl for mice. She considers all of her animals to be her children.

Harmon relishes working with plants and takes pleasure in gardening. She said she has a passion for antiques and loves going antiquing. She is also an avid photographer of nature, barns, and animals. Harmon enjoys a good meal; some of her favorite foods are mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and tacos.

In conclusion

“The diversity of my work ensures that no day is like any other. Being employed by Hot Springs Village has allowed me to contribute not only my experience and skills but also the opportunity to excel in the things that I am passionate about. Watersheds sustain life in more ways than one, and I have a great passion for them.”

Katy Harmon, Hot Springs Village Lakes Supervisor

If you have any questions, Katy Harmon can be contacted by email at kharmon@hsvpoa.org or by phone at (501) 226-9247.

*Lakes Balboa and DeSoto have primary and secondary dams, but the official paperwork refers to both as having one dam.

By Cheryl Dowden; Images provided by Katy Harmon

Featured image: Katy Harmon – the uncommon woman behind the blonde hair and boots

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