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Food for thought for graduates

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This is the month that eager, full-of-hope young adults graduate from institutions of learning. Whether high school or college, these graduates are always subjected to one final round of advice from a commencement speaker before they toss their hats in the air and bolt for the door.

To tell you the truth, I have no recollection of the commencement speaker or his or her words when my diploma was handed to me at the University of Maine, lo so many years ago. We thought we knew it all then, and the words of the greybeard at the podium were just words.

Today, commencement speeches fascinate me. Not only the quality of the commencement speaker’s insights, or lack thereof, but the look on the faces of the graduates. Some of them have their receptors turned on; some are miles away.

At the U.S. Naval Academy recently, Vice President Pence had some thoughtful advice about leadership for the graduating class.

“I truly believe that among the most important qualities of leadership — whether it’s in the armed forces or any other endeavor — are humility, orientation to authority, and self-control. And I encourage you to cultivate these qualities as leaders in increasing measure every day from this day forward.”

Recently, during an awards ceremony for graduates of the wildlife ecology program at the University of Maine, a former wildlife major was honored and recognized for her accomplishments and professional contributions. Diane Roth Eggeman, who graduated in 1986 with an M.S. in Wildlife Management, was selected for the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Wildlife Fisheries, and Conservation Biology.

As is custom, Eggeman, who is Director, Division of Hunting and Game Management
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was invited to say a few words. She was speaking to young graduates who will soon assume the mantle of leadership as fisheries and wildlife biologists, researchers and educators here in Maine and elsewhere.

Her advice was spot on! Refreshingly practical and insightful, it was clear that Eggeman, like so many of us, has learned and matured as she has grown professionally in her field. Here are the highlights of her advice to those who will soon start to find their way in the workaday world.

Setbacks aren’t always setbacks.
Politics is part of doing the work of conservation, accept and embrace it.
Conservation is a public service and it’s about the people we serve.
Appreciate anyone who invests in you professionally, value criticism.
Say yes to opportunities.
Professional success is all about relationships.

Food for thought, not just for wildlife majors, but for any young graduate, or anyone who cares about succeeding, for that matter.
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The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books.Online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.

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