I acquired my perspectives on water in four increments. The first was through experience and play. My dad had a small wooden boat, and we talked, laughed and fished our way around Lake Erie and the islands. In this context, water was pure joy, play, family and escape. The second dose came from spending a number of summers at a biological station located on a small island off the Maine coast. My first summer there, at 14 years old, I mapped out the distribution of surface freshwater on this small patch of land. Freshwater here was scarce of course, and we rationed it accordingly. My third set of perspectives came from my professors and classes that sharpened my point of view adding analytical rigor and insight to a set of experiences already gained.
Lastly, I have been a professional and a practitioner in environmental and energy fields and especially in water-related fields now for decades, yet my views continue to grow. And, like I did at 14, I am still engaged in mapping and understanding our collective impact on, and our relationship with, water.
We work across the Great Lakes through and with a myriad of entities, tribes and first nations, states and provinces, federal governments, industry and the environmental community to restate the truth that this vast inland sea is of vital world-wide importance to us, to the nation and to the world. It must remain a national priority to restore, protect and manage it wisely. It is stewardship we seek. Whether then as a 200-acre peanut shaped island surrounded by saltwater or now as twenty percent of the worlds surface fresh water.
The legacy of our commitment to natural resources and to water lives in those of us who have built on our experiences, our relationship with water and those that have learned our lessons and impelled us to engage.