In his professional life as the senior procurement specialist for Levi Strauss & Co.’s U.S. Distribution Network, Dana Oliver is generally concerned with acquiring goods and services for the company’s distribution centers. However, since being a part of the LS&Co. Service Corps last year—an immersion program that allows selected LS&Co. employees to experience what life is like for apparel workers in the developing world—his work life has an added dimension: teaching. Dana is helping fulfill a goal set to train all of the employees in Levi’s distribution centers in the United States and Canada to teach about water and sustainability using Project WET.
Luckily, teaching is in his blood. “The teaching part of working with Project WET has been like second nature to me,” Dana said in a recent interview. “The family business I grew up around involves teaching kids, so when I found out that part of my work with the Service Corps in Cambodia was going to be in front of a classroom, I was excited.”
Dana and his fellow Service Corps members were trained along with five local teachers and five factory workers to teach kids in the classroom about water. The group then visited a school near the factory and taught students about water using hands-on, interactive lessons. The trip made Dana appreciate the water resources available to him in Kentucky, where he lives now, even more than he had before.
“When you travel to a place like Cambodia, you see firsthand the struggles that people have just getting water,” Dana said. “Once they get it, they then have to treat it to be usable. It made me feel very fortunate to be where I am.”
The experience also inspired Dana to train his fellow employees to teach about water. “The vice president of our distribution global supply chain has committed to having everyone in our distribution network trained by the end of 2017,” Dana explained. “We have three distribution centers in the United States and one in Canada, and each center has multiple shifts. I’ve been traveling to these centers and training trainers to accommodate all the shifts.”
Dana said that trainer classes for each shift have attracted six to 10 people. Those trainers in turn are responsible for reaching the folks on their shifts. “I have now done trainings in all three of our U.S. distribution facilities in Kentucky, Mississippi and Nevada, as well as our center in Canada,” Dana said.
One thing he enjoys about teaching people to use Project WET are the varied reactions he gets to the activities. “Different people are interested in different activities and tasks,” Dana said. “Some people love ‘Drop in the Bucket’; others love ‘Water Footprint’ or ‘Blue Planet’. I always encourage them to share presenter duties. That way a person can become an expert on one activity.”
While training adults to use the activities has become a specialty for Dana, he said that he also loves to teach children about water, as he did in Cambodia.
“I really enjoy working with kids,” he said, adding that the activities are effective because “the material is relevant to everyone—everyone can walk away from the program with something positive.”
Dana noted that his passion for water education stems from the desire to help people understand how they can have a positive impact on the environment.
“If each of us does just one small thing for water conservation, it could make a huge difference,” Dana said. “I always try to hammer home that water is the most precious resource on the planet.”
LS&Co. has been sponsoring the Project WET Foundation since 2015. In 2016, company leaders made a commitment at the White House to use Project WET to train 100 percent of their employees about water and sustainability by the year 2020. To learn more about what LS&Co. and Project WET are doing together, check out these stories:
- How I Use Project WET: Educating Employees and Customers About Responsible Water Use
- LS&Co., Scholastic and Project WET Team Up to Provide Water Education to 1.5 Million Students
- Levi Strauss & Co. Teaches Water Sustainability At “Kids Take Over Day”
- Community Day Heroes
- Levi’s Employees are Science Teachers for a Day
- Why We Volunteer: Up Close With Our Program in Sri Lanka