Clearfield County Conservation District’s Manager Susan Reed is set to embark on a major life milestone.
When she closed her office door Friday, Reed wrapped up nearly 20 years of service as the overseer of the county’s environmental protection programs. Her official retirement date was Friday, May 31.
In 2000 when she was hired, CCCD was expanding both staff and programs, with the goal of renewing its commitment to customer service. The directors wanted someone to oversee staff and programs and perform the day-to-day administrative work in the office.
In an article published in The Progress shortly after she came on as the manager, then Board Chairman Russ Orner Jr., spoke about why Reed was chosen to fill the management position.
He said, “I was very impressed with Susan’s abilities and ideas. She already has the organization and managerial skills and her knowledge about environmental issues will follow,” Orner said.
She applied for the position, immediately coming from a job in the motor coach industry where her employer had abruptly closed, “I had no background in environmental sciences however the job description had more emphasis on management and finances and I could do that. I thought when I applied I could always learn the programs,” she said.
Reed, said her staff, both at her hiring and during the years she was served as manger, can’t be given enough praise for the motivation and inspiration they offered her.
“It was a staff of four when I came on. They have all gone on to other things but I remember how wonderful they were. So encouraging and patient. They helped me every step of the way.”
Of the current staff, Reed said she spent much time considering how her retirement could affect them and their work.
“It was a great sense of relief when Willie (Null, the new manager) came on board. I knew he was going to be such a good fit. This staff is made up of the most amazing people. They are so intelligent, dedicated and committed. It makes my job easy to work with such good people. I have so much respect for them and what they do. They all work together to get such good things off the ground.”
She also thanked the district’s directors for their faith in her, then and now.
“It is a dedicated board. They are so easy to work for. Really the whole conservation community has been so willing to help me. If I have problems they will do whatever they can,” Reed stated.
Through the years, she has been manager, CCCD has continued to grow. “We’ve added more programs and staff. We do more environmental programs and offer many more services with a bigger impact on the environment. State and federal regulations have become more stringent and that can sometimes be viewed as troublesome but we ask people keep in mind that usually regulations are developed to address an issue,” Reed said.
She provided an example, noting when she was first hired, local storm water management for development projects was not the matter of interest it is now. “It may seem that developers have to do more to meet the regulations but down the road those directives will prevent problems.”
Looking back at programs and projects, the district has completed, is enjoyable for Reed.
“I see so much of what has been done in almost 20 years but when you think in terms of the environment, 20 years is not that much, but we have seen amazing results,” Reed said noting passive treatment for abandoned mine drainage and clean waterways and improved highways through the Dirt and Gravel Roads program. “You can see the effects and that’s what makes the programs so worthwhile,” she added.
Reed said she also has enjoyed any opportunity, through the years, that she has been able to work with youth including at annual events, the Conservation Celebration and the Envirothon, and on occasions when CCCD staff is invited into local schools.
“I really love the opportunity to do environmental education. I like watching the kid’s faces while they are working. They just get so excited about projects,” she said.
And its not only the kids, Reed said she appreciates the parents and grandparents who accompany those youngsters to events like the Conservation Celebration.
“Those parents and grandparents were not taught these things in school. They come to the celebration and make these amazing discoveries.”
The Conservation Celebration, she said, would not be possible without the willingness and cooperation of the event’s partners. She named the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Penn State University, Friends of Curwensville Lake, Dave McCracken of McCracken Canoes for all their help over the years.
Reed said she has no immediate plans for retirement other than to enjoy life without the restrictions of a schedule.
“I really don’t have a hard and fast plan. I did put in a raised bed vegetable garden. It is something I have always wanted to do but just didn’t have the time. I would also like to take some weekend trips,” she stated.
She plans to remain a board member with the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Authority and wants to assist the community through several avenues of volunteer work.