By: Barry Perryman, SRM Director
Greetings from the bridge of the Starship Looney Tunes! Once again it is time for me to put pen to paper on the subject of SRM, and once again I am compelled to write about how valuable our members are to our common mission: providing leadership for the stewardship of rangelands based on sound ecological principles.
It is a worthy mission, and so is our vision: A well-trained and highly motivated group of professionals and rangeland users working with productive, sustainable rangeland ecosystems. It is our calling.
A major responsibility of your Board of Directors and Officers is to ensure that other important entities are aware of what SRM members can provide. We do this in lots of ways. For our members who are part of the executive branch workforce, one of the more overlooked aspects of SRM and one of the core reasons for its initial formation, it is to provide a voice that you ordinarily do not have in the workplace. SRM serves collectively as that missing voice. Federal employees are able to speak through the Advisory Council, Committees, Task Forces, Directors, and Officers. Sometimes those voices sound all the way to the Department level of the Federal Government. SRM can speak when you cannot.
One recent example of how SRM has spoken is through our efforts (along with sibling societies) to ensure that the executive branch of government respects and values our members. Our combined efforts succeeded in an inclusion of the following:
The 2018 House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations submitted the following as a part of the 115–238 Interior report:
The Committee recognizes that maintaining the professional competencies of the Federal workforce is necessary to assure sound scientific management principles are applied to resource management. Professional societies, such as the Society of American Foresters, the Society for Range Management, The Wildlife Society, American Fisheries Society, and others provide opportunities for employees to maintain professional competencies through continuing education, scientific journals, and interaction with other professionals. The Committee encourages the Federal agencies funded in this bill to support the participation of employees in such professional societies in accordance with guidance issued by the Office of Government Ethics through 5 CFR Part 2640.203, Official Participation in Nonprofit Organizations.
The inclusion of this language in appropriation bills is amazing. You are valued by members of the House of Representatives and they have called the Executive Branch’s attention to it!
SRM was also an integral part of the recent Free-roaming Equids and Ecosystem Sustainability Summit, with the Nevada and Utah Sections and the Parent Society serving as co-hosts along with The Wildlife Society. SRM offered a forum, an opportunity for professional dialogue that represented 90 different organizations ranging from horse advocacy to municipal governments and everything in between.
Your Board and Officers are working hard to expand these kinds of efforts for all of our members; and please, please don’t ever doubt your individual worth to our Society. So, with your indulgence, I will leave you with a story I was given long ago:
Long ago, there was a time when there was no fire, and all the animals were cold. It so happened one day that an old bear was walking beside a lake just as a big storm was brewing. Cold, grey clouds were blowing up and lightening started to crash all around until it hit a big tree on an island in the middle of the lake, which set the tree on fire. Well the bear saw this and thought to himself that it looked like the sun, and maybe the animals should have a piece of it. So he called a council of the animals and said, “Look over to this island, it looks like the sun is in a tree. We should go and get a piece of it so we won’t be so cold.” All the animals agreed and they clamored to be the one that would receive the honor to go and get a piece of the sun. So Bear chose Raccoon to go first. Bear said, “Raccoon, you are a good swimmer and have beautiful white fur. We can see you from far away. You go and get a piece of the sun and bring it back.” So Raccoon swam to the island and saw the huge, hollow tree on fire, glowing with hot coals. He began climbing the tree to figure out how he would get a glowing piece of it to take back. Halfway up, he came to a knothole and looked inside. Just then the fire pops in his face and he loses his grip, falling among the burning roots where his tail gets stuck. He pulls and pulls and finally breaks free, jumps into the water and swims back. None of the animals recognized him for his fur was now grey, his tail was ringed with burn marks, and he had a black mask on his face. Raccoon tells Bear he is afraid to go back, so Bear asks who else should go, and Crow volunteers. Bear says, “Crow, you are beautiful. Your feathers look like the rainbow, and you are a good flyer. Go and bring back a piece of the sun.” So Crow flies up and away to the island, circles around in the smoke for a while, and finally dives down to the bottom of the tree to grab a coal with his feet. But it burns his feet, and his wings stir up the fire into a big flame. It scares him so he flies back to the council. The animals couldn’t recognize him because his feathers were now black from the soot and smoke. Even to this day, if you hold a crow feather up to the sun, it looks like a rainbow on a black background. Bear asks who will go next, and Snake stepped up because he was a good swimmer and could bring a piece back with his fangs. And so he swam across the lake. As he opened his mouth to bite a glowing ember, he breathed on it and blew it up so that it cracked and popped. Burning branches fall on him as he slides back into the water and returns to the council. To this day, Black Snake is black on top with a white belly. In turn, all the other animals also tried and failed to bring back a piece of the sun, until Water Skipper said I will go. But Bear said, “How will you bring back a piece of the sun? You are so small, so tiny; how can you do this?” Water Skipper said, “I have a plan.” So all the animals said, “Let him go and see if he can do it.” Water Skipper swam to the island. He had learned from watching to stay away from the flame and smoke, so he grabbed a small stick and drug out a little ember; blowing on it so it would glow hot. Then he took a little mud and made a little pot. He put the ember in the pot, put the pot on his back, and swam back to the council. He placed some little sticks on the ember in the little pot and began to blow on it. A little flame blew up, and all the animals gathered more sticks and put them on it. Pretty soon a big fire was burning; the first fire.
The moral of the story is this: never forget that the smallest, least endowed person can do great things with a little courage and an opportunity.
Never feel as though you are an insignificant part of SRM. You may be just the person SRM needs to accomplish big things…Hang and Rattle!