It’s a standard part of her remarks…and the response is standard, too.
SCA Founding President Liz Putnam addressed 350 outdoor professionals from federal, state, regional, and local government agencies, consultants, non-profits, and academic institutions at the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) annual conference in Boise, ID.
In accepting SORP’s 2016 National Recreation Leadership Award, Liz casually asked if there were any SCA alumni in the audience. Person after person rose to their feet, and those who did not audibly gasped as the SCA crowd grew larger and larger. Then the room broke into boisterous applause as Liz wiped away tears.
“I often get leaky at times like this,” Liz apologized. But no one seemed to mind.
SORP chairman and resource management planner John Baas started the presentation by noting SCA was the first partner he ever worked with, years ago when he was in the US Forest Service. Conference co-host Helen Clough, currently president of the River Management Society after a long career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, commented that SCA had provided her with “many awesome, awesome interns” over the years.
Liz lauded the conference members for promoting sustainable outdoor recreational pursuits while protecting the American wilderness, urged the group to eliminate barriers to nature, and detailed SCA’s unique impact on the growth and success of its young volunteers.
“That’s why this award means so much to me,” Liz stated, “because it comes from a group of kindred spirits who know and respect the transformative power of nature.”
As she concluded, many of those who stood to celebrate their SCA roots rushed to the front of the hall.
“I just wanted to thank you in person.”
“Can I get a picture?”
“You are such an inspiration!”
Surveying the scene, SORP Manager Brenda Adams-Weyant, who served as an SCA intern at Olympic National Park in 1984, declared “I’ve never seen a Leadership Award winner prompt such an emotional reaction.”
Liz, meanwhile, continued to share laughs, hugs and memories with alumni from every era.
“If you hadn’t started SCA,” stated one Bureau of Land Management career employee, “a certain young woman would have never started with BLM – and I would have never had the chance to make her my wife!”
It was a day with no shortage of happy endings.