September 2012 Newsletter
Susan Metzger began her environmental quest after she graduated from the University of Mary Washington. She continued on to obtain a master’s degree from Old Dominion University in 1999. Upon graduating, she began her environmental career by working with engineering firms responsible for military environmental compliance and land development. In 2003 she accepted a position at the Kansas Water Office (KWO) as an environmental scientist. Later she was promoted to the manager of the Watershed Coordination Unit. This summer she began her current position networking with organizations, the legislature, and congressional delegates to ensure water policy issues are addressed.
Susan began a career in environmentalism because she loved all outdoor activities.
“I am very fortunate to be able to align my hobbies so well with my work,” she says. ”The saying “do what you love and love what you do” fits for me.” She says she wouldn’t want to ever change her choice.
Throughout her life in an Army family, she has learned to be flexible, plan, and cherish opportunities. These attributes have played a major role in her career and life successes. In most careers you have ups and downs, but so far Susan believes every positive and negative experience has taught her something in return. Her number one highlight is the fact that she is involved directly with the Kansas environment.
“I feel that I actively make a difference for our Kansas citizens by addressing our highest priority water resource issues,” she says. An example of this was the reallocation of storage at the John Redmond Reservoir, which she was a part of. This project will extend the reservoir’s life by up to 15 years.
In order to get to where she is today, Susan gives credit where credit is due, explaining the number of people who have positively impacted her career. The most recent example is Earl Lewis, assistant director of the Water Office. “Earl has a knack for evaluating all sides of a water policy or research issue,” she says. Susan says this quality is what has made him such a valuable influence.
Finally, KELP contributed to Susan’s career success because of the level of diversity. “My class was comprised of federal and state employees, county sanitarians, and interested citizens from every corner of the state,” she says. The differing opinions and ideas created a variety of relationships that Susan still calls on.
With that, her advice to anyone in this field is to build a strong network. “Every connection made will be valuable at some point in your career,” she says. Thank you Susan.
July Newsletter Spotlight
When some think of a 56-year-old Kansas farmer, they might picture a man set in his old ways of farming the land. But when you meet 56-year-old Kansas farmer Donn Teske, you might picture the opposite. As twelfth-year president of the Kansas Farmers Union, Donn is dedicated to improving the land he works daily. He is a KELP graduate and a fifth generation farmer from Wheaton, Kan. He runs a dairy farm alongside his most prized individuals: his wife Kathy, four children, and three grandchildren.
After farming full time from 1973 to 2004, Donn took a position at Kansas State University as a farm analyst. In that position, he assisted farm operations with financial and crisis planning. A year later, he started with the Kansas Rural Center, where he currently serves on the executive board. While at the center, he worked with their land stewards on the Clean Waters Farm Project which developed a plan for farmers, grant programs, and strategies for improving water quality. While traveling across the state, he was in awe of the environmental stewardship he was capable of.
“Sometimes I would be out on someone’s farm looking at nature around me and the good that could come from what we were looking at and wonder that someone was actually paying me to do this job!” he says.
Through his involvement with the Kansas Farmers Union, Kansas Rural Center,Kansas Graziers Association, and other organizations, he’s able to implement environmental change in an educated way that others understand, relate to, and are motivated by. Donn continued to expand his knowledge base when he took the opportunity of a life time to travel to the village of Keur Ali Gueye in Senegal, Africa, and work with their millet production. “It was a life-changing experience,” he says.
Donn also believes through his experience running a multi-generational farm he has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly ways of farming. With that, he feels a responsibility that can’t be explained in a classroom. “I have the ghosts of four previous generations of stewards of this land looking over my shoulder,” he says, “and it’s my responsibility to care for it the best that I can.” Although he’s had some great successes, he credits much of it to those who, “gently showed me that there is much more to stewardship of our resources.”
Donn is not a professional environmentalist, conservationist, or environmental advocate, but he does consider himself an environmental steward because it is “just part of the responsibilities of humans on this planet.”
After all of his experiences, Donn leaves a piece of advice: “Be ready to absorb rejection, especially here in Kansas where farmers and business don’t like anyone else messin’ with their system,” he explains, “but you HAVE TO DO THIS. Someone has to.”As a husband, father, and grandfather, Donn feels very strongly that everyone has their own part to play in preserving the land and our resources. He believes we should feel the obligation to contribute for our future selves, and family members