President's Message

Message from the *new* Board President

Greetings and Happy New Year – one month into 2024!  My name is Stephanie Standerfer and I want to introduce myself having just been elected as the of President of the Inland Empire Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals (IE-AEP).

Before I tell you about myself, I want to say Thank You to Darren Edgington who has served as the IE-AEP Chapter President for the past several years.  I am honored to fill his seat.  And thank you to our current and continuing Board Members – Amanda Daams, Chapter Director; Alicia Gonzalez, Co-VP Programs; Cheryl DeGano, Co-VP Programs; Eunice Bagwan, VP Membership; Travis Randel, Treasurer; Elizabeth Meyerhoff, Secretary; Autumn DeWoody, Communications; and Peter Minegar, Legislative Liaison.  We are all volunteers who do this amidst our real jobs, so I appreciate all their time as we work together to make the IE Chapter of AEP strong. 

For those of you that do not know me, I have been in the environmental consulting industry for my entire professional life now nearing on almost 30 years.  For almost 20 of it, I have worked here in the Inland Empire.  Being a member of AEP for almost 20 years, I have enjoyed the connections and information that AEP has provided me. 

For those of you that do know me, I turned 50 back in October and now find myself on the latter part of my career trajectory, which is weird.  I find myself thinking about all the things we do as environmental professionals, and how we touch so many parts of the cogs in the wheel of society but for the most part what we do is invisible.  It's invisible to most people we interact with outside our jobs.

So, I am contemplative of the time I have spent in the Environmental Industry as I start to think about what the next years will look like for me, and the next 10 years after that.  But in doing so, I'm also looking back at what I've accomplished and how I can use my experiences to teach and support and guide the future of our profession. 

I have had a copy of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring on my desk since I left graduate school in 1997.  If I am honest, I am not even sure I read the whole thing...ever.  I have read the first chapter, A Fable for Tomorrow. If you have not read this book, nor even this beginning, I'm sad to say her foreshadowing of the maladies and calamities appears to be frighteningly accurate. 

Her book begins with this quote from EB White:

"I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good.  Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission.  We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and dictatorially."

I am struck by the phrase, "too ingenious for its own good".  I cannot help but think about the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which was created and passed in 1970 (9 years after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring), and how in 1970 CEQA was intended to be an "ingenious" solution to environmental degradation. 

And now here we are.  Very different times from even 5 years ago, let alone 50 years ago.  But the one thing we still have is dedicated, educated and passionate people, like all of us in AEP, that have chosen to focus our professional efforts on the environment. 

Some of my favorite excerpts from the AEP Objectives are to:

The last bit, about improving public awareness, strikes something in me.  I love sharing what I do for a living to people that do not circulate with me in it.  I love talking to students about what I do, and I love talking to new professionals who join us fresh out of school at WEBB, or those that spend time with us at CEQA Basics classes. 

Therefore, since it is still technically the new year (right?) and the time for resolutions, and in the spirit of the AEP Objective to improve public awareness, I throw out a challenge to you all – spread the joy of our profession and educate people of the environmental challenges we are all facing. Tell your story, tell the history of CEQA, tell the challenges of CEQA, tell the benefits of environmental analysis and planning.  Let's make our Chapter of AEP, the best Chapter in the State by spreading our knowledge to our communities here in the Inland Empire. 

Thank you for indulging my long-winded letter; I will not repeat it in the future.  I encourage you to reach out if you have any ideas on programs or events you'd like to see, or how AEP can help support you not only in your day to day, but maybe also in the things you do outside work. 

We have lots of fun ideas for future programs that we are planning for this year, most of which will remain on the virtual platform to facilitate maximum participation. Some of those topics include

We also want to plan a couple of mixer events – one with our friends at the American Planning Association (APA) again at Halloween, and one more with another sister association to be named later.

Looking forward to engaging with the Chapter and hope to see you soon at the next AEP event. 


Updated Feb 14, 2024