On the way out the door on her last day before she retired from 23 years on the council’s staff, Linda Robinson turned in her application to volunteer on the Information and Education Committee, the group she helped re-form in 2008. Today’s committee has roots in an “education committee” which existed in the early days of the council, but was later dissolved.
“Over the 23 years I worked for the council, I’ve watched volunteers dedicating a lot of time and passion to the mission of the council and I feel like it’s my turn to do that too.”
“I’ve always felt strongly about the mission, understanding that the industry is necessary, but it’s also really important to protect the environment,” Robinson says, “I like the thought that citizens should have a say in the way the industry operates in their area.”
Robinson was one of the first staff members hired by the council. She held several positions, most recently managing the council’s outreach efforts. Her long history brings invaluable insight and knowledge of resources to the committee.
“I’ve seen some projects that haven’t worked well in the past, and sometimes newer people might come up with the same idea. I can give my input as to how we’ve tried it before, maybe why it didn’t work and how we might try it again differently.”
“I am thrilled that Linda is willing to be a mentor to me and for her continued interest in the council doing good work,” said Lisa Matlock, the current outreach coordinator. “Her involvement provides continuity from the past to where we are today.”
Robinson has been working with Matlock on an idea the council has been thinking about for several years.
“One project we’ve been working on lately is the mentoring project,” Robinson said. “That will connect a new board member with an experienced board member who will help them learn about the council. This model could also be extended to committee members.”
“There’s so much to learn when you first join the board, having somebody that you can call, or somebody that sits beside you in a meeting to help you get through it all, I think that’ll be extremely valuable.”
Council meeting agenda topics can include not only oil spill prevention and response, but environmental science, engineering, naval architecture, financial matters, and many others. This made orienting new volunteers a challenging task, Robinson says.
“We tried so many types of new volunteer orientation programs over the years,” she said. “It’s just way too much information, and it’s just way too overwhelming.”
“I think this will make a difference and they’ll be more likely to feel comfortable getting involved quickly.”
Volunteering is important to Robinson. She says every time she has moved to a new location, she volunteers in the local arts community.
Since moving to Soldotna after her retirement, Robinson has been volunteering at the Kenai Fine Arts Center. She helps staff the center and is working with local artists to put on a book arts show this October called “Beyond the Cover”.
“Between volunteering and babysitting my granddaughter, fishing, and trying to do some gardening, I’m managing to keep fairly busy!”
“I’ve gotten so much from the council and I’ve been able to connect with so many people in so many communities, I just feel very grateful for having had that opportunity, and I feel that it’s time to pay back some of that time.”
“If I’m able to help out and use my experiences, that’s what I’m happy doing!”