Passing the Torch

Dr. Brown helping Alex tape up and support her wrist

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”-Benjamin Franklin

Education focuses on kids. But, what about big kids? What happens after 12th grade or college? Should they stop learning? How are they suppose to educate themselves and who will be their teachers? I have found that young professionals in their jobs are very qualified and very eager. But, they need to keep educating themselves. Do they understand their field? Do they have connections with colleagues? Do they know how the game gets played?

I wanted to help.

Since I became a big kid, I have organized outdoor trips for friends and colleagues. We have grown up together. We have been the leaders of the Chesapeake Bay’s environmental movement. Together, with these strong connections, we have helped move Bay restoration as a world class restoration effort. We would have never succeeded without each other. I would have never learned so much without them.

Two years ago, I retired after 38 years of running the nation’s largest environmental education program to aggressively champion a critical need in our environmental future. As my generation readies themselves for retirement, we often talk about how to pass on the torch. As we settle into retirement, we want to help these big kids settle into their jobs. These emerging leaders are the new leaders of the environmental movement. They will dictate what happens in the next 30 years to our environment. They will have all the power. Never has there been more of a need for strong leadership. It is our job to bolster their skills to take on these insurmountable tasks.

I started Upstream Alliance in hopes to pass on the torch. We are passing on knowledge. We are passing on skills. We are passing on passion. We are connecting people to people. We are connecting people to nature. Hopefully, these brilliant big kids will accept the torch and take it further than we ever did. We need them to.

And you know what, I have already learned a very profound lesson–the mentors learn more from those they are mentoring. The opportunity to work with such brilliant, passionate individuals should give us all hope as the baton is passed.

-Don Baugh

One year ago we returned from UA’s inaugural launch, the Delmarva Circumnavigation! Watch a video created by Sandy Cannon-Brown on emerging leaders during the circumnavigation¬†¬†and nominate an emerging leader by emailing with their name and contact information.