Dear AWW Family,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you, but a heart filled with gratitude and purpose. As of October 1, I retired from Auburn University after 29 years of service. After hobbling around for a couple of months this past spring, I was diagnosed with ALS last July, which precipitated my retirement.
Recently, I recalled a coworker suggesting that, along with all of the fine watershed stewardship activities that we do, we should also take time to get out and enjoy the precious waters that flow through our state – that is my next major goal.
Working with volunteer water watchers over the past two decades has really not been ‘work’ at all. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with some of the finest folks on the planet. It has constantly amazed me how these folks give selflessly of their time, talent and treasure in efforts to leave this beautiful planet in a little better shape than how they found it. Being able to work alongside such individuals in stewarding over Alabama’s waters through the AWW Program has been an absolute pleasure.
Most AWW volunteers will tell you that, as water monitors, they feel empowered and gain a sense of ownership of their data, and the waters that they monitor. They become committed to monitoring their local streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and many become actively involved in the stewardship and management of these precious waters. It is truly fulfilling to be a part of this effort!
In moving on to the next phase of my life, I take great comfort in knowing that the AWW Program is on firm ground and in good hands. AWW continues to flourish in the AU Water Resources Center, under the able and supportive leadership of Dr. Puneet Srivastava, as it did under his predecessor, Dr. Sam Fowler. And one would be hard-pressed to find a more caring, committed and hard-working staff – Sergio, Mona, Sydney, Billy, and Carolina. I know that they won’t miss a beat in stewarding over the AWW Program and the bountiful waters of our state.
As I transition to focusing on post-retirement life, I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Deutsch for establishing a program that has educated and engaged thousands, from the Mobile Bay to the Tennessee River Valley, and truly made Alabama even more Beautiful! And as I go out to my dock to monitor this month, I will be thinking about all those that I’ve been privileged to call my AWW sisters and brothers that have been with me on my AWW journey through the years.
This is not a goodbye. I feel that our paths will cross again somewhere down the road. Please keep me and Maria in your thoughts and prayers as we make full use of our time together, and as we face the challenges that ALS may bring. My best wishes to all of the AWW Family as we continue our efforts to steward over our treasured waters.
With deep affection and gratitude,