Most folks develop a unique set of skills as they venture through life. By the time they’re fifty years of age, a most people have acquired more than a few as the result of their life experiences and personality.
In the Midwest, most men can drive a truck pretty well, many can plant a darn nice garden, mow a level lawn, and even do your standard or complicated household maintenance and repairs. Throw in a few professional skills like carpentry, accounting, machinery repair, and/or hunting, and you have a typical, well-rounded American male.
Fortunately for the land conservation community of east central Indiana, when I reached fifty years of age, I had an atypical set of skills. I had started honing my clerical skills in high school by taking a typing class. I had no intentions of ever using that skill; it just sounded easy. That public speaking class at Markleville HS was the beginning of a life-long ability to speak and/or sing in front of an audience.
Throw in a few years in law school and offices; an exciting, eclectic career in sales; three years at sea as a radioman on a fast-attack submarine; a few days as a temporary White House staff member; one summer picking night-crawlers in Muncie and a couple weeks picking driftwood in Maine; a year driving a cab; a few years as a professional cook, and I think I can safely say I had developed a pretty unusual skill set.
There were two consistent traits that carried me through those decades…1) the good ole Midwestern work ethic, deeply instilled by my mom and dad, and 2) a love of nature, firmly implanted by being raised beside and playing, for my first seventeen years, in a hardwood forest. When at fifty years of age I decided to start a Land Trust, every single one of these skills, plus my passion for protecting natural areas, enabled me to direct Red-tail Land Conservancy through the early years, never losing sight of the mission and never considering failure as an option.
When the successes began happening year after year, I was totally unskilled at what has become my most important Red-tail tasks…hiring and supervising a staff. Fortunately, among our board of directors were people very skilled and experienced at hiring new employees. Consequently, RLC has recruited a most effective, talented staff, and we’re well on our way to preparing our land trust for “life after Barry”.
While my involvement with Red-tail will surely last for many years, Red-tail is well on our way to being a well-staffed, permanent conservation agency in our “neck of the woods”. Through our current staff and consultant, we now have in house, a collective skill set that includes computer (operation and programing), writing, scheduling, fundraising, marketing, clerical, stewardship, teaching and education programing, along with keeping an eye on our aging Executive Director.
It’s all good…the future is bright for land conservation in east central Indiana.
– Barry Banks, Founder & Executive Director