September 25, 2012
Jeff Bednar, former NERC Board Member and Board President representing Pennsylvania, continues our series of guest blogs by people who have been influential in NERC's 25 year history.
Here's what he has to say:
My introduction to NERC came many moons ago as a new program analyst at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. I was asked to accompany the Pennsylvania representative to a meeting and provide an update on some sustainability endeavors undertaken by the department. As a recycling neophyte, I was practically crushed by the sheer volume of knowledge, intellect and recycling industry acumen that this collective of professionals possessed.
Strange, unfamiliar terms such as "single stream" "product stewardship" "C&D" and "source reduction" both piqued my interest and created an uneven playing field: these were recycling heavyweights whose knowledge I could not hope to match. No worries, I was along just this once and could surely glean as much as possible those two days and retreat back to my office to digest and incorporate what I learned.
Later that evening, I began to understand just how close an organization this was and it became apparent that these were professionals who shared a common bond and, through NERC, genuinely enjoyed interacting. By dinner these people were no longer strangers, but colleagues who shared not only their recycling knowledge but also great conversation and laughs. I had no way of knowing at the time that this would be the first of many enjoyable dinners that would extend into the evening that I would have with the representatives of NERC. By the next NERC conference I was accepted as the new Pennsylvania representative.
Heading north in the spring and fall became a welcomed ritual the next five or so years, a chance to grow professionally by tapping into the fantastic research that is NERC and to continue warm friendships. That growth culminated with the honor of being voted President of the Board of Directors of the organization, and I was happy to serve and contribute to an organization that was such an important tool to my state's recycling program.
I look back fondly at my time with NERC and the tremendous professional growth the organization helped facilitate for my state's recycling program. NERC itself grew, taking on increasingly difficult or front-burner items, often recycling issues that no one else had addressed (or wanted to!). Lynn and Mary Ann and their staff worked tirelessly to promote NERC and to ensure NERC's contribution to the member states. The contacts and friends I met during my time with the organization I still cherish. Happily, there was always room for fun at any NERC event.
Mostly, however, I am pleased and encouraged that the organization remains as vibrant and healthy as ever, and as a resident of one of the NERC states, I am glad that NERC continues to promote recycling in my state so we can secure all of the community benefits of a healthy recycling program.
Guest Blogs represent the opinion of the writer and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.