Looking Ahead to 2018

Don’t get me wrong — I am fully and positively engaged in my Fairmont State University journey, flourishing and reveling in the experience. Great people, a wonderful place, and an unrivaled cause. I count my blessings each and every day. Yet I must be ever-unconscious that this pleasant northern West Virginia passage is finite. July 25 — 14 percent of the way into my six-month Interim Presidency.

What is among those things that are falling into place beyond January 1, 2018?

  • I have just confirmed that I will be a keynote speaker February 8, 2018 at the Kansas Natural Resources Conference in Manhattan. KS. Anticipated audience of 300-350 natural resources professionals. Topic: Harnessing Nature’s Wisdom and Power. I’m planning to add a day or two to visit the Konza Prairie and other special natural features in the area, hosted by long-time friend Kansas State Forester Larry Biles.
  • I committed just this past week to doing a six-session workshop series in Huntsville, AL for Learning Quest (http://lquest.org/) spring 2018 at a date not yet confirmed. Topic: Nature’s Inspiration: Harnessing Nature’s Wisdom for Living, Learning, Serving, and Leading.
  • Likewise, I have accepted an invitation to speak to the Huntsville Chapter of the National Active & Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) in March or April, date yet to be determined. Topic: Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading.
  • Consulting Forestry colleague John Pirtle (https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-pirtle-86796920/) is lining up potential Forestland Legacy Story clients for us to visit after the first of the year. What a joy it will be to get back on the ground to explore and probe landowner tales of forest stewardship passion and commitment!
  • I am working with Tuscaloosa-based Westervelt Company to explore the possibility of a deep-dive Forestland Legacy Book-length Story for the venerable firm that for three generations has exemplified forest stewardship in action.

Having accepted this six-month FSU opportunity, I have made clear that Great Blue Heron, LLC is running at idle speed. That said, I will take a brief spin the latter part of August, revving the engine, blowing off the cobwebs, and making sure the thing still performs, to present with my colleague Dr. Cheryl Charles (Executive Director of the Nature Based Leadership Institute) a half-day workshop at the Magnolia Summit, the annual meeting of the Association of Nature Center Administrators. The venue is just two-hours from my Madison, AL home — at Camp McDowell. The workshop topic: Three Essential Steps Toward Realizing Your Center’s DREAM Fulfillment. Then a return to idle.

I will be prepared come January to get back behind the wheel. I intend for the next legs of my Great Blue Heron journey to be already mapped. As the back cover of Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading makes clear, “Stephen B. Jones, a university president, lifetime champion of Nature, and founder of Great Blue Heron, LCC,” will continue to draw “upon his varied background as a natural resources scientist, educator, and philosopher to convert Nature’s time-tested wisdom into actionable insights… that will help you live, learn, serve, and lead while engaging in responsible Earth stewardship.”

Featured Image: Just last week, while I am in temporary residence at WV’s Fairmont State University, Big Blue visited Judy back home in Alabama, landing atop the next-door neighbor’s porch roof, perhaps searching for me, curious concerning my extended absence!