I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Can you spell L-E-G-A-C-Y?
The Student Conservation Association was the brainchild of Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam. For her 1955 senior project at Vassar College, she came up with the idea of forming a student conservation corps. Why not harness the labor of thousands of idle college students on summer vacation to build trails in the national parks, and to provide a volunteer force for enhance the parks for all? She got the ear of President Dwight Eisenhower, and the rest is history.
In 1957, 53 high school, college, and graduate students volunteered their services at Olympic and Grand Teton National Parks. This year marks the SCA's fiftieth anniversary, with nearly 50,000 alumni. With a $25 million a year operating budget, a staff of 200, and seven offices across the country, SCA is going strong, complete with inner-city projects. This past year about 3,000 students made up the crews and fulfilled the internships that did service work in more than 250 locations across the country.
Legacy. True legacy. We were assembled at 8:00 p.m. in the main hall, a cavernous room in the brand new Museum of Native American History. We were there to pay a tribute to "Liz" Putnam who put it all together and who has guided SCA throughout its 50-year history. Cheers and more cheers, and then tears. Tributes so heartfelt for a woman who had helped form so many productive lives. Many, many "SCA's" have dedicated their careers to conservation and service-work, becoming stewards of our Earth.
It was my pleasure to have shared dinner in the museum with Liz and her husband Bruce. That evening I witnessed student volunteers, one after another, approach Liz to shake her hand and thank her for how the SCA had changed their lives for the better. She'd grasp each ones hands in between her two hands, look them deeply in the eye, and say, "Thank you for being part of it; you are the real heroes!"
Then, strike up the band! The students had a ball. The room was rockin'! I watched 75-year old Liz dance exuberantly among hundreds of appreciative souls, their energy filling her soul, filling her heart so full that it brought tears to my own eyes. A full-blown, gale force wind of reality swept my soul: the legacy of a great soul and a vivid testament to EcoMotion's guiding principle of the power of the increment. Imagine, each of us holds the seed to make our own mark on society, to make a profound contribution. And that's how you spell LEGACY.