How to Look Your Kids in the Eye

Public Speaking. Intro to Theater. Writing Skills. 20th Century U.S. History. Environmental Science. Biology. Freshman year of college, my course load looked much like every other undeclared undergrad’s – with maybe a bit more science. I had the luxury of testing the waters while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My trouble was that I liked lots of things and I was a good student, so there were lots of doors open to me, if only I could choose.

It was a visiting speaker who made the difference. His topic was global warming, which – more than 20 years ago – was just starting to come up on people’s radar. He had been studying science in graduate school and when he first heard of the theory, decided he had to learn everything there was to know about the topic. Then he said the words that changed my life:

And once I knew that our planet was in danger, I had to dedicate my life to fighting to save it. How else could I look my children in the eyes?

Air and water pollution. Deforestation. Toxic waste. Extinctions. Pesticides. I knew our planet was in danger, too. It was then that I started down my path as an environmentalist. First, I got my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation, and then started my long and winding career:

  • Fighting against mercury pollution and air toxins with Clean Water Action;
  • Teaching environmental science and ecology as a 7th grade science teacher;
  • Writing guidance documents on EPA regulations as an environmental consultant; and
  • Learning about air, water, and Superfund site monitoring and regulation as a state budget analyst.

My career path led to many fields of public policy in addition to environmental protection, but I’ve always been able to look my kids in the eye. The trick? My work has always been about helping others, and about solving problems to make the world – even if it’s just one tiny corner of it – a bit better for everyone.