Center Stage Employee - Lovoyd L. Fountain

A Life of Continuous Service

There are individuals whose lives are peculiarly suited for a specific time slot,an exact mission or a precise frame of reference. For Lovoyd L. Fountain, this meaning is doubly felt and its impact doubly important.That is because Lovoyd has parallel careers in the U.S. Forest Service, where he is a Civil Engineering Technician on the Oakmulgee Ranger District of the Talladega National Forest and Field Artillery Officer with the rank of Colonel for the U.S.Army. He has served in both the Forest Service and the Army since 1985 which is where the significance of life timing begins to be most evident.

Now age 51, Lovoyd Fountain began his dual careers by immediately bridging an older,slower world and a newer, fast paced future. Just as Lovoyd was beginning his careers, Apple was introducing the world’s first mass market personal computer with a graphical interface and mouse. Computers were a significant part of the nexus that expanded to accommodate cultural as well as technological change.

Beginning his studies in the days before computers were in widespread use,Lovoyd first learned old school methods before experiencing the added complexity of technology. This unique background meant that he not only knew his work thoroughly from every angle, but it also positioned him to be able to assist others, regardless of their level of understanding. Just as he was learning, Lovoyd was also teaching others.

Map making is a good example. As a youth ,Lovoyd, being interested in drawing, studied drafting in high school; then,as his horizons expanded at Tuskegee University, he pursued courses related to civil engineering. He could perform the necessary field work as well as producing the technical data to create maps before computers were available to assist. Being on the spot as computer technology emerged, Lovoyd also studied computer engineering and met the world head-on.

In the Forest Service,Fountain found himself at the center of colleague swho were seeking to adapt to new expectations. Lovoyd was equipped to help,tutoring those who needed assistance,providing just the right amount of information and always moving ahead.

At the same time, the Army was also moving forward on several fronts and Fountain kept pace, taking valuable perspectives back to his civilian career when he wasn’t on military duty. Lovoyd was prepared to adapt to a rapid technological shift in military preparedness, but he also acquired valuable lessons in project management.

For those contending with complex systems,detailed data and coordinated deadlines,organization is vital. Adopting project management methodology from the military, Fountain scrutinizes his Forest Service work, applying analytical, critical thinking to achieve rapid, thorough results.

The culture of the army was changing as much as its emphasis on technology and Lovoyd immersed himself in modern management perspective; again, taking important lessons back to the civilian side of his life in the Forest Service. The Army is in the field everyday proving that it is not soft,but it has consciously led the officer corps to acquirmore effective, responsive strategies for handling human resource issues.Today, officers listen well and welcome two-way communication with their troops.

By consciously employing these methods in his Forest Service work, Lovoyd demonstrates the ability to be both affable and effective. “As a leader,I must at all times ensure the people I lead feel at ease with coming to me at anytime with anything,” Fountain said. “I feel honored to make myself approachable.” And he accomplishes this while remaining focused on results.

Evidence of his effectiveness through 26 years in the Forest Service is not hard to spot.When Bibb County wanted to improve a road leading into the Oakmulgee,they approached Lovoyd. The resulting partnership achieved lasting results by designing an award winning stewardship program for road maintenance.

The development of the Payne Lake campingarea is also one of his accomplishments. Lovoyd designed the sites and planned the water and electrical connections that make it a popular destination for visitors to the Oakmulgee.

There is also a technical side to some of  Lovoyd’s accomplishments that harken to the past.The development of Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) technology tremendously changed the way maps function by adding significant new information. It also added a degree of complexity that many find challenging. Lovoyd is able to help others embrace the newly available technology and make it pay dividends for the Forest Service not only by creating the added value of data widely available for many purposes, but by improving the ability of others to access it.

The role of mentor is obvious in Lovoyd Fountain’s life,over spreading both the army and the Forest Service. Hand-in-hand with mentorship is teamwork. “Teamwork and team cohesion is a must in order to be successful,” Fountain observed. “I am very conscious of being a mentor,” he said. “I take that honor very seriously. Accidental or incidental mentor relationships will always present themselves,” he continued, observing that the value of conscious mentor relationships “bring together everything they are, everything they believe and everything they know how to do to provide purpose, direction and motivation.”

Consciously accepting mentorship in his early days, Lovoyd found instruction and guidance provided him with a strong foundation, both of knowledge and of character. One of his early mentors was Dennis Bradford, retired Forest Service Engineer turned college professor who introduced Lovoyd to the Forest Service in 1985 when he got his start as a Forestry Aide on the Oakmulgee. There he found Bobby Lee, an administrator who continued to mentor him when Lovoyd returned to the Oakmulgee in 1990 as Civil Engineering Technician after serving as an Engineering Assistant at the George W. Andrews Forestry Science Lab in Auburn and anEngineering Trainee in the Forest Service Supervisor’s Office in Montgomery, Ala.

Lovoyd found  mentors in the military, also, and at Tuskegee University, including Hayward Sisuim who provided a work  study job that enabled him to attend school. Securing a Forest Service engineering scholarship, Lovoyd was able to complete the last year of studies for a degree. But it was family mentors who provided the fundamental basis for Fountain’s success. “My father gave me my greatest quality,” Lovoyd said, adding that “he taught me to treat people with respect and kindness.”  Lovoyd calls his mother, Bertha L. Fountain, his  “coach, cheerleader and number one mentor, ”who, along with uncles and aunts “taught me that hard work will some day pay off and it did.”

Success came after his grandmother Viola Hardaway insisted the family move to Pensacola, Florida. In 1977 at age 15,  Lovoyd joined his family, including a younger brother and sister, for the move south from the Bronx, New York. After adjusting to culture shock, Lovoyd’s aunt, Patricia Jiles,strongly encouraged him to attend Tuskegee University. That abrupt, seemingly improbable move from the streets of New York to the forests of Alabama, positioned Lovoyd for a successful dual career that was not accidental but purposely attained through hardwork and dedication.

In 1990,  Lovoyd moved his own family to Brent, Alabama to be near the Oakmulgee. Married since 1988, Lovoyd and his wife, Priscilla, have five daughters and eleven grandchildren.

With a year remaining before retirement from the military and an ever shortening span of years before retirement from the Forest Service, this one time kid from the Bronx whose face is still youthful and whose slender, strong frame remains vital, will have decisions to make. Having been twice successful, he will be well positioned for another career, or possibly two.