Chesapeake Bay Expedition

Women in Science: Noha Gaber — Building Bridges of Leadership and Collaboration

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Noha Gaber

When I meet with college students to talk about the benefits of government service and the great work that we do at EPA, I usually put up a slide of a number of beautiful bridges and challenge the students to think about what I do here. After several guesses, I reveal that although I am an environmental engineer by training, I use my technical knowledge to serve as a metaphorical bridge builder at EPA. In my role as the Director of EPA’s Council for Regulatory Environmental Modeling, I work with staff from across EPA to help ensure the quality, consistency and transparency of the computer models that EPA relies upon in its work. We are also working with a large number of U.S. and international collaborators to use these powerful tools to help promote sustainability and think of the environment as an integrated whole.

Shortly after I joined EPA, I came up with another bridge-building project! In early 2006 I started the EPA Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) and worked with a small group of young EPA employees to develop ELN into a thriving organization that is helping to create a more collaborative, innovative and effective EPA. In just 5 years, ELN has grown to over 1000 members in EPA’s HQ and Regional Offices.  One of our coolest activities in 2010 was the ELN Chesapeake Bay Expedition, which provided a great leadership, development, networking and community service opportunity for about 50 ELN athletes and volunteers.

I joined EPA five years ago driven by a dream to make a significant positive impact in environmental and human health protection. I’ve learned a lot in this short time — about the Agency and its diverse programs and activities, the many dedicated and talented individuals who work here and about myself as a woman who builds human bridges. Above all, I’ve learned some important lessons about leadership, collaboration and making innovative ideas a reality. I leave you with my favorite motivational quote: “Collaboration: When a collection of brilliant minds, hearts and talents come together … expect a masterpiece.”

About the author: Noha Gaber is a team leader in the Office of the Science Advisor and enjoys participating in many community service, cultural and outdoor athletic activities in her spare time.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Cleaning Up the River, Cleaning Up Lives

By Kiri Kroner
This week I joined several other members from EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) to participate in the kickoff of our Chesapeake Bay Expedition. We volunteered at the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) located in southeast DC and helped clean up a little trash along the Anacostia River. And by “a little” I mean we filled upwards of a dozen large bags with trash in the span of just two hours! We picked up garbage by land and by sea (I got to wear a pair of waders), and a few of us got a little wet in the process. One ELNer said that he’s now going to think twice before using a disposable plastic bottle since that was the most common item we saw during the cleanup. We were told that more garbage would end up in the same location after the next rain storm, but I felt our efforts were not futile. We made a difference that day improving the wetlands in our Nation’s capital, and if that feat were replicated many times here and in other places, well we’d be a lot better off.

I am passionate about ECC’s mission to help inner city kids rebuild their lives by cleaning up the Anacostia River. The thing about ECC that impressed me the most was that this is a community based organization. The at-risk youths are from the neighborhood – one of the toughest in the nation – working to clean up their neighborhood. Many then move on to fulfilling jobs armed with new skills to improve their lives. Not only is ECC empowering youth by cleaning up a river, they are in essence training the trainers, so these kids can help their peers learn too.

After we finished pulling as much trash out of the river as we could (I even found a baseball, possibly from the nearby National’s ballpark) we were joined by Bob Perciasepe, the Deputy Administrator of EPA, who came to wish us well on our Chesapeake Bay Expedition! I was thrilled at the chance to meet with him and discuss issues surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and the future of EPA. Bob is very interested in hearing about what we learn during our Expedition, so we better take good notes!

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About the author: Kiri Kroner is an Environmental Protection Specialist on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Team in the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. She enjoys spending as much time as she can outside. In her remaining spare time, Kiri volunteers to help people in the developing world gain access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Science Wednesday: Saving the Bay Means Getting Your Hands Dirty!

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Kerry Hamilton

How would you prepare for a 100+ mile triathlon across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed? If you’re like me, your training regimen is not exactly running 10 miles a day. (Does switching from cookies and cream to strawberry ice cream count? It’s fruit!) Instead, I’m preparing for the Chesapeake Bay Expedition by attending pre-expedition events to lend a hand cleaning up and learning more about the Bay.

The expedition is being led by EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network (ELN), a group of young professionals from across the Agency who are volunteering their time to learn and promote awareness about Chesapeake Bay environmental issues.

ELN members on cleanupTo prove I am not a cubicle environ- mentalist, I joined fellow ELNers on July 31st for a cleanup event at Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary. There’s nothing quite like digging my hands into piles of garbage to remind me how important it is for communities to take a role in protecting their backyard! It also humbles me to know that as a researcher and former lab junkie, I’m only a piece of the puzzle in tackling these environmental issues—just one of the reasons I’m most excited to get out there to see the Bay and the people it affects firsthand!

To prepare the Expedition Team, I helped organize a discussion panel with several Bay experts. The panel members were Lee Paddock, an environmental lawyer from the George Washington University faculty; Michael Haire, the EPA headquarters TMDL (a measure of water pollution) guru; Joel Dunne, co-editor of A Sustainable Chesapeake: Better Models for Conservation; and Travis Loop, Public Affairs Director from the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program in Annapolis, MD. This Bay “dream team” painted a picture of the complex factors that affect the health of Chesapeake Bay. Communities, businesses, farmers, scientists, and government agencies all have important roles to play, and we hope to interact with many of these groups along our journey.

Armed with some more knowledge of the issues, I’m ready to get my hands dirty again and participate in the Expedition’s kick-off cleanup on the Anacostia wetlands—part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed right here in DC. ELN will be joining forces with Earth Conservation Corps this Wednesday, August 25th from 9am – 12pm for the cleanup of this neglected treasure right in our own backyard. Consider this your invitation to join! Stay tuned for more lessons learned from the road…we’re just getting started.

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About the author: Kerry Hamilton is a public health fellow in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. As a former soccer player, she is psyched to be watching ELN athletes suffer through the running, biking, and kayaking. She also can’t wait to share lessons learned on the Expedition with others!

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Expanding the Conversation about the Chesapeake

By Scott Fraser

ELN members kayaking

Would you kayak, bike and run over 100 miles in the sweltering August heat? OK, how about if it were for a good cause? Well we’ve got a few takers for such an adventure here at EPA.

An EPA employee  group called the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) is setting out on an Expedition from DC to the Chesapeake Bay to help raise awareness about one of our nation’s environmental treasures. This group of athletes and volunteers has been preparing for months not only for the physical endurance needed, but also to plan for listening sessions with the public along the way.

Now I like a good challenge and have raced in several Olympic distance triathlons over the years, so I was looking forward to joining the athletes. However, when ELN began planning the Expedition months ago I was already signed up to compete in the Timberman ½ Ironman the weekend before the Expedition. As it turns out, I had to withdraw from that competition due to a sore back. Let’s just say it’s important to use proper form when shoveling through feet of snow – thanks Snowpocalypse 1 and 2!

Back to the Expedition: it runs from August 26th through the 29th and the ELN Expedition Team will make their way through some of the Chesapeake Bay watershed – which covers over 64,000 square miles – to generate conversation about the environmental issues facing the Bay. The team will meet with citizens along the way to hear their ideas for protecting this vital resource. En route, athletes will describe their trek and what they’ve learned from the listening sessions through blog posts, Facebook entries, Flickr photo galleries, and Twitter. Check back to follow the Team and contribute to the conversation.

I think it’s so cool how this Expedition effort coincides with the work I’m now focused on in my new position with the Office of Public Engagement. So although I’m bummed I can’t endure the August heat exercising with the athletes, I’m excited to accompany this group and interact with the public on the lessons we’ll learn along the way (every successful expedition needs its sherpa).

About the author: Scott Fraser is currently working in the Office of Public Engagement in EPA’s Office of the Administrator. He has been with the Agency for five years and is fired up to expand the conversation on environmentalism! Stay tuned next year when he hits the triathlon circuit again and describes the joy of training outdoors.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.