June 2, 2007
Marshy Point Nature Center Festival, Middle River, Maryland
Kay and I are honored today to be a part of the festival here on the bay near Middle River, Maryland. We are working this event on behalf of our client Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is voluntarily cleaning up some environmental issues at their facilities in Middle River.
We are attending and participating in this festival to keep the public informed about that work. The two of us are staffing a tabletop display under a tent with weather in the 80s accompanied by a bright sun, lots of humidity and horse flies.
I remarked to Kay that when I arrived here today that this is reminiscent of my days when I worked with the Tennessee Valley Authority at Land Between The Lakes (LBL). This was during the 1970s and at that time TVA clearly understood the importance of their mission to educate youngsters about the environment. It was a part of the very heart and soul of the agency.
Many of my favorite memories are from the LBL days and many of the important learnings from that part of my career still resonant and influence the way we conduct our own business today.
I learned early from those experiences that an informed and educated audience is one that will work with you to accomplish even the most difficult of tasks even under the most difficult of circumstances.
It was through the vision of educators such as John Paulk, Lynn Hodges and Larry Contri that LBL came to be known for the decades of the 70s as the place to bring your child, if you wanted them to learn about the environment.
TVA, LBL, and indeed the entire region of western Kentucky, owe these pioneering environmental educators may thanks for their groundbreaking and diligent work.
Today, the USFS touts its “new” efforts to educate children on environmental issues. They make much fodder of the “grants” they have received to do this work. Much like TVA did for 30 some years, the USFS now struggles to gain credibility with the regional stakeholders and the users of the national recreation area.
Their work is noted and appreciated.
It is good work begun years ago by people who understood the importance of teaching students, who are now my age and older, that we should respect our environment and learn to live with it.
The early educators didn’t go to extremes and lead anyone to believe that the world was coming to an end, that failure to recycle would make you a bad person, or that you should buy carbon credits to ease your conscience.
Rather, the early pioneers of environmental education understood the importance of teaching children how to respect nature and appreciate it. They helped to place into perspective that Man had long lived with Nature in harmony.
Sadly, those days are gone yet like all things in education, and indeed in society, the trend dies only to be reborn again by the government and its agencies under some new name and with some new mission.
However, the good people here at Marshy Point in Maryland understand the importance of environmental education. They seemingly have a passion for what they do, for what they believe, and for what they will pursue. I, thankfully, don’t see them diverting their resources in the future as they see environmental education of the next generation and beyond as a scared and continuing mission.
Perhaps, as we reflect on our personal and business missions periodically we should ask ourselves, if indeed, our missions are scared.
• Are we passionate enough about what we do with our life work to sustain it even in the light of changing political and social winds?
• Are we willing to stay our courses even when others are deviating trying to find the latest politically correct or business du jour?
• Are we focused enough to re-engineer our businesses and our philosophy without losing our hearts and souls in the process?
When good people set out to do the right thing, in the right way and with passion and conviction they invariably succeed. The best people to do that are those with a focused mission, a set of strategies that will lead them down the path to success, and the daily “chopping wood and hauling water” that we all most do.
The folks here at Marshy Point are such people.
Until next time.
L. Darryl Armstrong
ARMSTRONG and Associates