What is Your Legacy?

By Luz V. Garcia

When a mother talks to her child and says, “I am proud of you,” that means a lot to the child. Why? Because the child is thinking, “I am creating something that my mom feels proud of and I’m pleasing her.” When we compliment our children, we are reinforcing good behavior and, in doing so, we can only hope that they can pass that legacy to their own children.

One of the dictionary definitions of legacy is, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or a predecessor.”  As EPA employees, we think about our work as building a legacy for the benefit of future generations. It can come in the form of a legal case that reduces or eliminates a contamination source, or a team effort that helps a community, or an environmental inspection that fulfills our protective charter. Our agency’s mission is to protect human health and support a better and cleaner environment. For example, in 2011, I was able to stop, with the help of U.S. Customs, the importation of illegal pesticides into the country, illegal pesticides that have the shape of candy that could easily be mistaken and consumed by unsuspecting children. These pesticides could just as easily have ended up on New York City streets. I also feel proud of submitting five sites in Puerto Rico that were listed in the Superfund-National Priority List and are now mostly in the clean up stage. These are some of the examples of accomplishments that inspire me to continue my work at EPA, and these are part of my legacy.

Every effort contributes to the creation of a “legacy” and we all want to think that at the end of our work and life journey, we left a behind a body of good work.  That’s a feeling that we can incorporate into every activity during our day.

We want some accomplishments throughout our life journey that our co-workers, our community benefit from, and of which our family can feel proud and inspired. That is what I called “one’s own legacy.”

But the real world sometimes keep us so busy and involved in our daily chores that we can forget to ask ourselves, What opportunity  do I have today to inspire or lead someone to something good and permanent for the future? So remember at the end of your busy schedule to ask yourself the question, “What did I contribute to my legacy today?”

¿Cuál es tu Legado?

Cuando una madre le dice a su hijo “Me siento orgullosa de ti”, esas palabras significan mucho para ese niño. ¿Por qué? Porque el niño esta pensando, “He creado algo de lo cuál mi madre se siente orgullosa” y cuándo alagamos nuestros hijos, estamos reenforzando  un buen comportamiento  y esperamos que ellos pasen ese legado  a sus hijos.

Una definición del diccionario para la palabra “Legado” como “algo que  viene del pasado, de ancestro o de un predecesor”. Como empleados de la EPA  pensamos que nuestro trabajo nos permite crear un legado de dónde las futuras generaciones. Este legado puede ser en la forma de un caso legal que reduce la fuente de contaminación, o  cómo parte de un esfuerzo  de equipo que ayuda a la comunidad, o como una inspección ambiental que cumple con nuestro cometido de protección ambiental. La misión de la agencia es la protección de la salud y luchar por mantener o mejorar el medio ambiente.  Por ejemplo, en el año 2011, fui capaz, con la ayuda de Aduana Federal, de parar la importación ilegal de pesticidas  a la nación, pesticidas ilegales cuya forma similar a los dulces confundiría  y hasta podría ser ingerido por cualquier niños.  Este tipo de pesticida pudieron terminar siendo  distribuidos en las calles de Nueva York.  También me siento orgullosa de haber sometido cinco  lugares en Puerto Rico que finalizaron en las Lista de Prioridad Nacional del Programa de Superfondo y que  están ahora en su fase final de limpieza. Estos son algunos de los ejemplos de mis logros que me inspiran a continuar mi trabajo en la EPA y son parte de mi legado.

Cada esfuerzo nuestro  construye un legado y queremos pensar que al final de nuestra jornada laboral o nuestro camino en la vida dejamos el fruto de un buen trabajo. Este sentir  lo podemos incorporar en todas nuestras actividades diarias.

Queremos que nuestros logros a través de la vida beneficien e inspiren a  nuestros compañeros, nuestra comunidad  y  finalmente hacer sentir orgullosa a nuestra familia.  Eso es lo que yo llamo “Mi legado”.

Pero en la vida real, estamos tan ocupados con nuestras funciones diarias que olvidamos preguntarnos, ¿Qué oportunidad he tenido hoy de inspirar a alguien a hacer algo bueno o permanente? Debemos recordar a l final de nuestro tan ocupado itinerario, el preguntarnos, ” ¿Cual es mi legado de hoy?”

About the Author: Luz V. Garcia is a physical scientist with a post-graduate degree in the Science of Environmental Engineering. She works in the Division of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance and has experience enforcing a variety of programs in RCRA, Superfund, and Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

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