Meet one of our Sages – Walt Mintkeski. His professional and volunteer efforts have helped to preserve water quality and improve energy efficiency for future generations, and he inspires others to create sustainable practices and become good stewards of the environment.
Walt describes himself as a citizen advocate for sustainable practices that protect the natural environment. Since childhood his love of the outdoors, especially waterways such as the Long Island Sound, have been his passion. Walt has always had a spiritual connection with nature. He learned to sail at summer camp in Maine and continues to be an active sailboat racer and instructor.
“The theme of my life is water. Water is the life force of the planet.”
He recalls Earth Day in 1970 as a personal call to work on water pollution and the negative impact of people on the planet. In 1972 he moved to Oregon and began his environmental engineering career in municipal water and wastewater treatment. Outdoor family activities with his wife, Vicki, and his two sons (now grown) incorporated these same values and passions about nature – “recreation re-creates my spirit”.
Walt has been actively involved as a conservation volunteer and leader. He was the founder of the Friends of Johnson Creek and held various leadership positions on the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, a group that has engaged volunteers to restore and be stewards of this Southeast Portland urban watershed and its fish and wildlife. Walt has been a long-term member of the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.
I’ve run across people who are really concerned about the state of the world’s environment, particularly climate disruption, and just feel hopeless. They don’t know what to do.
I say to them: just do something, start somewhere. Whatever you do, it will help you sleep better at night because you will know you will be doing something to make the world a better place.
In 2006, at age 55, Walt retired from full time work to have more freedom to pursue his mission. He has focused his skills and energies post-retirement on projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability for future generations as we face climate change. Walt is a life long learner. Involvement in various groups over the years has also given Walt expertise in how to make a committee work – “communication is half the work in the project.” As a crew leader on various conservation projects, Walt has cultivated and inspired new volunteers and leaders. In 2011, Walt was recognized for his exemplary service by The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, receiving the 2011 Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award.
A special thanks to the volunteer author of this story, Cynthia Sturm.
Walt is a SAGE peer-to-peer advisor. To get in touch with Walt, Contact SAGE.
Recreation re-creates my spirit.
Walt’s Tips for Giving Forward
1. Pursue your passion through service. Your passion will motivate you to work through obstacles and take action for the benefit of future generations.
2. Do “something,” start somewhere – you can take a simple action in your daily life, such as walking (rather than driving), repairing something or recycling (rather than throwing it out).
3. When you learn about a new environmental challenge, search for ways to contribute to the solution, and minimize your footprint so you do not contribute to the problem.
4. This community needs your time and talent. Consider mentoring or sharing your knowledge or expertise by serving on a nonprofit board, or an advisory committee.
Create an opportunity for the next generation
The future needs all the advocates it can get.