Professionals Tasked to Meet Global Environmental Challenges

July 1, 2008

For those of you who missed the opening session at EC08, just let me tell you that you really did miss it. It was a shame to have such a great speaker with a fantastic message that I felt really addressed what IECA is all about, and there were only about 150 individuals attending the opening session. Chad Pregracke, the keynote speaker, presented a message that was quite clear: Do not give up against unbelievable obstacles, fully embrace volunteerism, network with people who can help you achieve your goals, educate communities about the problems caused as a result of man’s exploitation of the environment, and in most cases your mission is only achievable through hard work and diligence. Chad told his story about growing up on the banks of the Mississippi, and how he had seen the river that had been so much a part of his life used as a dumping ground. His mission is to clean up the Mississippi River.

IECA has unbelievable obstacles to overcome, too. We are challenged with man’s exploitation of his environment through various activities, much the same as Chad, but we also have man’s exploitation in combination with Mother Nature’s ability to strike at any time, or what we commonly refer to as accelerated erosion. We have seen the effects of blending of man’s activities with inclement weather conditions, and yet, the damage in the form of erosion or the release of pollutants continues unchecked when it could have easily been prevented. Chad was tasked with increasing awareness within the communities up and down the river. We are tasked with increasing the awareness of accelerated erosion internationally.
We also perform a lot of the hard work through volunteerism. It is amazing what can be achieved with volunteers when the direction is clear. I felt Chad really proved this in his presentation and it is the message that IECA continues to promote. One person cannot accomplish a huge mission alone; it takes volunteers and, like Chad, we need volunteers. In the next few months, we will be asking for volunteers to help with the Long Range Plan through the Future of the Association Strategy Team (FAST). This will help to define the direction of IECA for the future, and once the direction is defined, I believe that everyone will all be amazed at what IECA can achieve through its volunteers.

For Chad’s mission, he needed to provide education to the communities on the river. For IECA to be effective, we must provide education to communities not only in the US, but we must be the leading association worldwide to educate all countries about the problems associated with our activities and their effect on the environment. This will take a lot of diligence to get the message to the far reaches of this planet, but it also requires the resources to translate information into other languages. It is important that we also recognize that there are erosion and sediment methods being used elsewhere in the world that we may not be aware of, and that these methods may be applicable to other countries. IECA needs to be the clearinghouse for this information, and an international resource for anyone requiring help with erosion problems.

Chad required connections to help get materials and equipment. He had to learn how to network with the right people. IECA has the capability to help connect its members. IECA’s greatest resource is its members, and the knowledge base contained within its membership. We have many of the greatest minds associated with erosion and sediment control assembled together in one association. IECA provides the resources to allow its members to network so that goals can be achieved that benefit the environment. IECA will be expanding its networking to include groups such as the US Green Building Council, and their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

IECA’s mission is similar to Chad’s, but more to the point are the methods used to achieve goals necessary to effectively move forward on the mission. IECA’s mission is to connect, educate, and develop a worldwide erosion and sediment control community, but the question is: How do we, as members of IECA, achieve this? We can only achieve this through direction, education, networking, and the hard work and diligence of our volunteers.

Mike Chase, CPESC, CPSWQ, CESSWI  Director