On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, six Washington DC-based SCA NPS Centennial Volunteer Ambassadors—there are 70 serving nationwide—joined SCA Founder Liz Titus Putnam on stage for a presentation at the Garden Club of America’s annual meeting in the nation’s capital.
They spoke—and embodied—the National Park Service’s Centennial year commitment to connecting with young people across America, and working with SCA to make public lands conservation a priority for the next generation and beyond.
Here they are with a few words on how they and Liz—who has been engaging young Americans in conservation service since 1957—were received.
When working in the field of non-profits and the federal government, employees will find occasions when work must be completed on almost unfathomable deadlines. Those who work in these fields can certainly relate. When taken as opportunities rather than begrudging tasks, inspiring things can happen. This was clearly the case when we received a call last Thursday asking the six Centennial Volunteer Ambassadors (CVA) located in Washington, DC to present on the NPS Centennial, the CVA Program and its accomplishments, and our experiences during our SCA internship. We were asked to give a presentation at the Garden Club of America’s annual conference. The Garden Club of America and the SCA have had a phenomenal past together, and we appreciated the opportunity to represent the SCA. The audience was set to include over three hundred people ranging from elected officials to non-profit professionals to the SCA founder.
In fact, we were asked to present alongside the SCA founder, Liz Putnam. With the honor and privilege of working with Liz, we needed to truly collaborate with one another in order to put together a presentation on such a short timeline. The key to our mutual success was the fact that we all understood that we could not do this alone. We rallied together and worked as a team, utilizing each of our distinctive skill sets and respective backgrounds in order to create the best possible end product. This internship, and this presentation, has helped to thoroughly reinforce the importance of teamwork for all of us.
With words of encouragement from Liz prior to presenting, we felt confident that we would represent the SCA well. We shared numerous stories about the work that we are doing to support the mission of the National Park Service and SCA. Our presentation went off without a hitch. To our surprise, we received a standing ovation from everyone in the room. Liz thanked all of the SCA interns, past and present, and the entire room was filled with the sound of clapping once again. We received praise from many people that day, along with Liz, such as GCA members and elected officials. Nothing will compare to the living legend that is Liz Putnam saying, “All of you inspire me.” We were all so humbled by everyone’s kind words. It is great to know that what we are doing matters, and that, as the next generation of conservation leaders, we are supported by others near and far.
As the day progressed, Liz’s warmth, wit, stories, and legacy made all of us realize just what a great organization that SCA is. We knew she was an inspiration, but amazing doesn’t even begin to describe Liz. She is the embodiment of everything that SCA stands for, and continues to strive for. Her dedication, perseverance, and strength is a testimony to what it means to be a leader.
Moments like these make the work the Centennial Volunteer Ambassadors, and all SCA interns nationwide, completely worth it. We are extremely proud to be a part of SCA’s legacy of creating the next generation of conservation leaders. We can only hope that we become just as legendary as Liz Putnam. For us, this is only the beginning.