Leadership Blog Part 6: The Value of Volunteering and Leadership

Our life together as environmental professionals is certainly a given. There are, from the onset, common bonds because of the professional work that we do. As we grow in our careers we realize the importance of giving our volunteer time to an association we align with and believe in. For most of us that association is NAEP. The reward is more than volunteer positions standing out on our resume, more than showing commitment to our respective environmental field. For those of us that belong to NAEP and/or a NAEP Chapter, we know that our NAEP friends, especially those that take on volunteer and leadership positions, hold for one another an inexplicable, sometimes unexplainable, caring for each other. It’s a caring that transcends our professionalism, our commitment to NAEP and the environmental professions. Below are what I call value statements that hopefully bring meaning to the intent and spirit of getting involved and staying involved in NAEP and its Chapters:

    • Taking Control: If you are going to be late, do not wait until the day that the report is due and tell them you are going to be late. Surprises are great for birthdays, but not in business. Seems like a simple concept, but sometimes informing people of things they do not want to hear early (schedule delay, cost increase, significant impact, etc.) so they have time to manage the issue is better received than waiting – it builds trust. This concept was given to me by my grandmother when I was little when I told her I was going to do a chore and did not, and she looked at me and said very clearly you are only as good as your word and you have to do what you say you are going to do.
    • Moving Ahead: Getting involved in NAEP helps you stay current and even move ahead professionally within your respective environmental practice area. It can expand your current knowledge and stretch your experience into other practice areas through networking, partnering and the educational opportunities offered at our conferences.
    • Coming Home: What builds us up, brings us together. NAEP is an excellent home to broaden your reach. Large or small, every volunteer contribution counts. Whether you’re comfortable on a national stage, or more regionally focused within a NAEP Chapter, there is a place where you can contribute and make a difference for yourself, your company or agency, and for the greater good and success of all environmental professionals.
    • Being a Leader: Those of us who are active and stay active within NAEP, giving of our time, talent, and professional interests, have the opportunity of leadership within the association. As a leader, we are then positioned to mentor graduating students and new environmental professionals in their growing careers. Developing tomorrow’s leaders helps strengthen NAEP’s position at the forefront of the environmental professions.

Every professional association needs volunteers to make it thrive, and it needs leaders to make it successfully grow. The poet Naomi Shihab Nye in her poem “Living” states “You don’t have to say anything for conversation to exist.” That is true within NAEP. The conversations, the dialogue we have as environmental professionals, and as volunteers, happen on all levels, some levels more subtle and unspoken. Yet it is these interactions that fill our lives with the bonds of friendship and the true values of caring leaders.

Ron Deverman, NAEP Fellow

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