Greetings! I am writing to introduce myself as NRCM’s new board president. In preparing this brief message, I am reminded that in November 1863, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. At 300 words and two minutes in length, it is arguably one of the finest speeches ever delivered in our nation’s history. “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us….”
The context is a bit different for us today, but the challenges remain: clean water and air, healthy food and toxic-free products for our families, natural places to explore, and a beautiful, healthy environment.
The seeds for my journey as an advocate were planted many years ago. I was free to wander outdoors, and was inspired by many leaders early in my life. In college, I witnessed the birth of Earth Day and the final days of the Vietnam struggle, and felt an empowerment that comes with youth. It seemed as though all you had to do to make a change was to gather a group, develop a slogan, and press on.
As a scientist and physician by training, I try to employ the best evidence in my decision making. Often this database is incomplete and a cautionary course is most prudent. Our staff experts at NRCM follow a similar approach. Recognized as some of the best minds in their fields, the staff members bring the compelling story of the critical connection between Maine’s environment and the well-being of Maine people, wildlife, and our economy to our legislators and policy makers.
My goal as board president will be to empower our staff members to do their jobs at the highest level. I feel fortunate to work with such effective and passionate people. They have a remarkably busy agenda monitoring state agency proceedings, preparing for legislative sessions, and reaching out to people in all corners of our great state to keep them informed.
As we look forward to Thanksgiving and reflect on gratitude, let me share with you a thought delivered recently by former Governor Angus King. He said, “Right now there are four million people in the United States thinking about nothing except next summer’s two weeks in Maine.”
Thanks for your commitment to Maine’s environment. I value and respect your ideas and I look forward to communicating with you.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Tony Owens, MD
Board President, Natural Resources Council of Maine