VICKSBURG, Miss. – Aristotle said the essence of life is to “serve others and do good.” A philosophy that Keith Flowers, the deputy director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) believes as well.
Flowers, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is passionate about getting involved in the community he calls home.
“I was born and raised here,” he said. “For me, with my family here and all the things that I enjoy — the small town, the different cultures, the people, the topography, the history, the abundance of outdoor activities — and then being able to come to work with some of the smartest and most passionate people and be involved in solving some of our nation’s toughest engineering problems, it’s just a situation that I feel very fortunate to be in.”
Flowers says his daily goal is to go to work every day and strive to make everything about ERDC “world-class,” and he has that same mindset regarding his community.
“A world-class ERDC needs a thriving town to attract and retain top talent,” he said. “We also want the best possible quality of life, which is the mission of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce. It’s difficult for me to focus on one — ERDC — and not be interested in the other — Vicksburg.”
Along with participating in community events, fundraisers, service organizations and the Leadership Vicksburg program, Flowers was recently sworn in as the 2022 Chairman of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
“This is a way for me to get involved outside of work — to help make an impact and help improve our quality of life,” he said. “There are so many great people and so many things to be excited about. We already have a very high quality of life, and it’s important to take advantage of the momentum and strive to make it better.”
Although Flowers has been involved in the community for much longer, it wasn’t until he became chief of the River and Estuarine Engineering Branch at CHL that he saw the impact it had on recruiting and retention for the organization.
“When I was recruiting for my branch, I found that a major advantage was being passionate and positive about our community,” Flowers said. “I wanted our new employees to live, work and play in Vicksburg. I would take recruits around town. I’d show them the Chamber and take them to get information about the area concerning housing, restaurants or jobs for their spouses. I think that personal touch is what it takes to get people here. You want people to feel they are a part of something.”
He is glad to see ERDC’s efforts in community involvement as well.
“ERDC has exciting events like ERDC Under Lights and the Mad Scientist Run; these are great events that bring activity to the town for a good cause,” he said.
Flowers believes getting involved in local organizations outside of work is mutually beneficial for all.
“I encourage everyone to get involved,” he said. “We have a lot of bright, talented people here who have so much to offer outside of work. For ERDC, we are the largest employer in town, so collectively, we have a huge impact in the direction this town goes. For the organization to be the best it can be, the town needs to be the best it can be.”
Even though his duties as deputy director of CHL keep him extremely busy, Flowers says that won’t stop him from helping out where he can.
“In a small community, you can make such an impact outside of work,” he said. “It’s important to me, because rather than sit back and complain, you can get involved, make a change, and try to leave something better than you found it.”