10 Years of Sound Science at EPA’s Environmental Science Center

Well it’s over. Yup, after weeks of planning, EPA’s Environmental Science Center’s 10th Anniversary celebration came to a successful conclusion.  After a 1996 groundbreaking, the Science Center opened for business in February 1999 and was dedicated by a host of politicians in April, 1999.  From then on it’s been my pleasure to be the facility manager.

I may not use Avogadro’s number very often, but I get to interact with both in-house customers and work with our hosts – the US Army.  Back in the mid-1980’s due to an earlier Base Realignment and Closure effort (BRAC for short), the Army was looking to transform Fort Meade into a federal office complex.  And EPA sought a modern home that consolidated facilities in Annapolis and Beltsville, Maryland and Cincinnati, Ohio.  While we normally enjoy poking fun at politicians, I have to say that Maryland’s two senators at the time enabled EPA to have a green, state-of-the-art facility to allow applied environmental analytical chemistry and microbiology to flourish.  The Army agreed to provide land for the new Environmental Science Center and Congress provided EPA the funds to design and build the facility.  Because EPA owns the Science Center, it’s facilities management’s job to make sure it serves the technical and scientific needs of the staff and scientists without getting in their way.

A lot has changed in the past 10 years.  When we arrived at Fort Meade, it was an “open post.”  Employees and most visitors were free to come and go with little or no interaction with the military.  Of course all that changed on that 2001 September day.  Managing a non-Defense facility on the other side of the fence line hasn’t been easy for us non-DoDer’s.  Fortunately, our hosts have gone out of their way to make us feel part of the community and we’ve learned to become more security aware.  Like all Americans we’ve adjusted to the times.  While we fight to protect the nation’s natural environmental resources, we work side by side with the men and women who defend our liberty day to day.

Our 10-year celebration gave us a perfect reason to step back and reflect on the sound science and other important achievements the staff has performed over the years.  All too often we’re so enmeshed in our day to day duties and focusing on the next crisis that we don’t take time to reflect.  Fortunately, there is something about the calendar and decennial time periods that force us to think about our recent past. When we did that to prepare for the anniversary, we were amazed at how many people who were with us in 1999 still work at the Science Center.  Seventy four of our 143 original employees still work here.  That’s a good sign that the Agency in general and the Environmental Science Center in particular is a satisfying, challenging place to work.

I’ll be back in touch with Greenversations for our 20th reunion.

About the author: Rick is a thirty plus year career federal employee with the Environmental Protection Agency. While with EPA, he has served in multiple capacities, and has been the Facility Manager at the Environmental Science  Center since the Center’s opening in 1999.  He is interested in travel, fly fishing, crabbing, genealogy and foreign languages.

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