By: Veronica Urbanczyk, YPC President
Every year the Young Professionals Conclave (YPC) President has the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC sometime over the summer. This year, on July 17th and 18th, I got to join the Society for Range Management (SRM) leadership and staff on the Society’s annual Washington, DC Fly-In. This trip offers the chance as professionals and natural resource specialists to discuss natural resource issues, address concerns on agencies policy, and emphasize the importance of preparing the next generation’s stewards with key decision-makers on Capitol Hill.
The face-to-face meetings with Congressional Committees helps SRM leadership gain perspectives and voice positions in hopes of coming to a general understanding. Every minute of interaction is beneficial in pointing SRM in the direction of progress, but accomplishing big efforts sometimes takes small hurdles before protocols are implemented into practice. It takes time, but expressing our passion on natural resource topics, the diversity of specialists within our Society, and following-up on conversations carries a lot of weight.
Many of these efforts were put into practice during the Fly-In’s Inter-Agency meeting during which range leads from multiple agencies update and help SRM understand the agendas to work on throughout the year. In coming together, the reality we face is that there will always be challenges within the natural resource field on how to take scientific information and translate methods to on-the-ground applicable techniques. Another consideration in planning is the fact that specialists must follow agency-specific procedural guidelines with a realistic, and sometimes limited, amount of resources available to them.
As I continue to learn from professionals around me, through both their knowledge and experience, I’m beginning to realize that progress comes through partnerships in which communicating and listening to ideas brought to the table is crucial.
My focus over the two-day period of back-to-back meetings was to voice YPCs’ perspective on these topics for Young Professionals across our nation. In discussions where I had the floor, I stressed the importance of providing centralized trainings for agency employees and students at SRM meetings, promoting the Associate Professional in Rangeland Management certification, emphasized the need to support Young Professionals in attending meetings, and benefits for Young Professionals in the Society. All are critical points of discussion in the Society’s efforts to produce qualified Young Professionals.
The value in attending an Annual Meeting can open doors never imagined and direct you along a path where one day you will not only be making management decisions, but have the possibility of writing these policy decisions. This opportunity would not have been at all possible for me without the professional networks I’ve established over the years; from the beginning of my undergraduate career as an SRM student member, to a Student Conclave officer, to a Young Professionals Conclave officer. YPC has had the privilege to work with so many other Committees within our Society in many different activities and projects to foster these channels of opportunity for students and Young Professionals. One quote that I’ve found relevant to my experiences within SRM and the natural resource field is, “The sign on the door of opportunity says ‘PUSH’!” by Anonymous.
As a Young Professional, when you begin to think that our voice doesn’t matter, think again. Even though our voice may be soft–spoken, our words matter and our conversations within our Society and the natural resources profession speak loudly and are highly influential. The one-on-one conversations Young Professionals and students have with established members and professionals at Section and International meetings do get translated to higher levels of leadership within the Society, agencies, and universities. I’m proud to be a member of the Society for Range Management and appreciate the support, guidance, and mentorship I’ve received from the SRM Board of Directors, SRM Staff, and SRM Committees. Here is your chance to be a part of the transformation and become an active member of SRM. The opportunity begins when you make a choice to attend the Annual Meeting, this next year from February 16-20, 2020. Make the effort to introduce yourself and initiate a conversation.