Leadership Blog Part 7: Environmental Professional Values

What does the term “Environmental Professional” mean to you? I recently met a person actively engaged in urban planning, green activism, and urban forestry in a government role that didn’t consider himself an environmental professional. This got me thinking, is being an environmental professional determined by a certification, a certain type of job, or a mindset? 

I believe it's all about action. In my work, I consult with businesses on how to be the Role Models in their industry or how to be Role Models as individual leaders and business owners. This means, not only being very good at their jobs but also setting the standard, walking the talk, and taking actions in line with professional values. 

Ron Deverman, NAEP Fellow and chair of the Leadership Development Committee, shared 4 NAEP values at the most recent NAEP Chapters Retreat: taking control, moving ahead, coming home, and being a leader. I hope we’ll see more about them in a future article and I would like for us to consider adding a 5th value - Environmental Stewardship. My perspective being, if we, as “environmental professionals”, can’t set the standard, walk the talk, and take actions in line with our values (which must be clearly stated) then how can we expect anyone else to do it? 

This means taking action, like taking the lead on zero waste, at our events, our conferences and at our own dinner tables. This means taking action and spending the dollars that we earn in our EP jobs with other companies who are in-line with our values and who are also working towards zero waste, sustainability, renewable energy, etc. It means being the first person on our block to drive an EV, to put up solar panels, and to bring our own reusable utensils to the baby shower. 

This means, taking the lead for the environment. If you’re saying to yourself, as I find even myself doing, “I can’t do all of those things” then consider what you can do and how taking those steps will help encourage a movement of other people to do the same action. When you get right down to it, wouldn’t putting ourselves out of work due to a huge turn around in human behavior be the ultimate environmental success?

That said, to me being an Environmental Professional, is more than caring for the environment enough to choose to spend 40+ hours a week for protection, preservation, and fostering a symbiotic relationship between the earth and humans. It is also our responsibility, as persons educated in environmental systems and connectivity, to show every-day people the way.

Laura Thorne, NAEP Education Committee Co-Chair

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