“What drew you to work at Mobile Baykeeper?” People ask me this question all the time and the honest answer is that I wanted a job in Development and Fundraising for a non-profit organization. I love working with other people, planning events, and feeling like I have the ability making a difference in the world. Did I ever think I would get a job with an environmental advocacy group? Not really. When I started working at Mobile Baykeeper in 2013, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As I was interviewing for the position, I worried myself to death because I didn’t really consider myself an “environmentalist”. Sure, I dragged a recycling bin out to the street once a week but that was my teeny tiny contribution to the earth. It’s safe to say that my mindset has changed quite a bit in the last year and a half.
Some may think of Mobile Baykeeper as some crazy environmental organization that is set out to destroy industry and hug trees. The fact of the matter is that we love our environment, our waterways, and our way of life on Mobile Bay; we want to preserve it for future generations. Who wouldn’t want that? I loved my childhood on the water and wonder what it would have been like if I couldn’t utilize the resources that we have.
If you take a look at our staff and board members, they don’t fit the “tree-hugger” stigma attached to some environmental organizations. The truth is, none of us easily fit into the stereotype of an “environmentalist”. In fact, our Board of Directors is made up of a group of highly educated, professional business and community leaders. Their backgrounds range from business owners and attorneys, to accountants and artists. You can learn more about our staff and board here on the website.
As for me, I always pictured myself in a non-profit organization. In fact, I worked at two of them over the span of three years after college, always hoping to get into an event planning and fundraising position. I knew I had a passion for non-profits because I love to help people but an environmental non-profit was never something that crossed my mind because it almost felt like less of a personal impact. I was so wrong.
When a position became available at Mobile Baykeeper, I was skeptical. Did I know enough about the environment to be able to make a difference in the community? Would I look foolish around the staff when they discussed things about the environment that I didn’t fully understand? Let me tell you, that has not been the case at Mobile Baykeeper. The more I learn about our work, the more I realize that this organization does have a personal impact. It personally impacts the young child fishing or shrimping with their father or the small business owner whose business depends on the seafood in our waterways. It impacts people even though they may not realize it.
I find myself now picking up trash around my neighborhood and in public parking lots wondering what the future of Mobile Bay will be like, and hoping that future generations are able to enjoy it the way that I have been able to for 28 years. I can only hope that people learn about how they impact the world around them. Picking up a piece of trash on a walk or telling a company that they need to do the same makes a difference and is something to be proud of. This is our community…so let’s do our best to keep it clean for years to come.
-Mary Kathryn, Development Director