Environmental Leadership Spring Break Trip

Environmental Leadership Blog Entry: The Fortitude to Keep Fighting

Megan Feeg

In a 1965, President Dwight D. Eisenhower emphasized the necessary characteristics of an effective and successful leader. Selfless dedication, power of persuasion, conviction, courage, and humility were a few of these essential traits. Not only does Fred Tutman, founder of the Patuxent Riverkeeper program, embody each of these vital characteristics, but he possesses a fortitude that enables him to continue fighting for his cause.

Growing up alongside the Patuxent River, Tutman has developed a connection with this tributary and decided to take action to halt the rapid degradation of this environment. By founding the Patuxent Riverkeeper Program, Tutman has taken responsibility for protecting, conserving, and advocating for cleaner water within this diverse ecosystem. The Eisenhower Institute’s Environmental Leadership program had the opportunity to meet with Tutman to discuss different tactics and strategies that raise awareness for prominent environmental issues. Tutman encouraged participants to consider and address aspects of environmental justice within the current environmental movement. In his opinion, there is a dichotomous relationship between societal concerns and environmental issues. With respect to the Patuxent River, he explained that areas with the worst water quality are often communities with lower socioeconomic status. Tutman emphasized that, in order to accomplish effective change, the perspectives of all people from all affected communities must be acknowledged.

With respect to grassroots movements, such as the Riverkeeper Program, Tutman is true to the core beliefs of this movement and continues to fight for these goals in the face of defeat. He instructed participants to refuse to compromise, for when individuals compromise there are communities that will continue to be negatively affected. Fred Tutman’s fortitude  has led the Patuxent Riverkeeper Program’s battle for improved water quality and has encouraged participants of the Environmental Leadership Program to consider the perspectives of all communities when striving for environmental change. Not only is Fred Tutman considered a leader by President Eisenhower’s standards, but his contagious passion for the health of the Patuxent River has impacted the lives of many communities associated with this beautiful ecosystem.