The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides leadership in America’s environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts, closely working with other federal agencies, state and local governments, and Indian tribes to develop and enforce regulations under existing environmental law. Today I was taken to the EPA office to see how this leadership happens. Cristina Mercurio was on hand to welcome us. She offered me Chai tea and let me in on the plans for the day. It wasn’t just a tour of the building and offices; it was a panel discussion, with me on the hot seat sharing my experiences as an environmental journalist. I wasn’t prepared for that one bit, but it turned out perfectly. In a room with EPA staff, I answered questions on how to source my topics, questions related to border and migration issues, effective communication tools in urban and rural Nigeria, and so much more. My Chai was on the table all the while, untouched. I also got the chance to hear from my audience how citizens and the government of America are working to ensure their environment is safe.
Discussing Environmental Reporting with the USEPA team
With the huge crowd in DC, and at the EPA office, it was sweet surprise to hear someone speak Igbo to me. Yes, I met Cynthia McOliver. She came simply because she saw the memo that said a Nigerian journalist was coming over, and this Nigerian happened to be from her tribe, Igbo. And before you spell UNEP, we dumped English to converse in our dialect. Jane Nishada, Director of Regional and Bilateral Affairs was a great host. Shereen Kandil, Communications Director then took us to see the EPA multimedia studios. It is great to know that government agencies can take charge of their media productions professionally.
Next was a photo session. I didn’t know I was such a star.
At UNEP's Regional Office for North America
I had read last year’s YEJA winner Patricia’s blog on how eco-friendly the UNEP office in DC was, so I was very eager to see for myself, and meet the people who contributed to my award and my tour. We met Clayton Adams, Programme Assistant, Carla Freidrich, Jose Gamara and many more UNEP staff who were ready to welcome us. Our discussion was all about our work and contribution to a better planet. I learnt a new word, Green Chemistry. It seeks to reduce and prevent pollution in production, by making the 3 blocks of chemical production sustainable. Jose then took me on a tour of the UNEP office, and yes…..UNEP is a good example on going green at the work place.
After our long break, we set out to meet Christina Nunez. Christina is the Senior Producer, Energy Content, National Geographic Digital Media. I love documentaries and the National Geographic channel is my favorite, so I couldn’t wait to get to see the Nat Geo office and learn more about their love for the environment, and their mission to conserve nature and her resources. The National Geographic Society works a great deal with Shell. In Nigeria, environmentalists do not want to hear the name, because of the environmental degradation associated with oil production. I was told Nat Geo tires to balance this relationship without compromising the brand. My time with Christina left me a lot more knowledgeable on how best to do my job.
I head home to go kiss my little girl. Did I mention she’s here with me? She is!!
Meeting Christina Nunez at National Geographic