Tennessee Environmental Council

by Community Shares on March 16, 2012

We have started a new blog series written by our intern Rachel. She is interviewing our member organizations to learn more about the work they are involved with in the community. Here is the first edition of the series.

Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC) mission is to education and advocate conservation and improvement of Tennessee’s environment, communities and public health. Without the natural resource provide the background of life. TEC has four main goals. They are the Sustainability Tennessee Project, the Watershed Support Center, Tennessee Tree Project and Education workshops.

The Sustainability Tennessee Project developed an agenda for Tennessee which changes each year based on the needs of Tennessee. The agenda covers land, air, and water. The watershed support center helps communities with the science that is involved with water. Urban water is mainly from storm water, TEC organizes communities to think about water usage and how water effects their lives.

The Tennessee Tree Project is about planting and/or caring for one million trees, by the end of this planting year they will have 5% of their goal complete. During the process of planting trees they educate  people on how to care and plant a tree.  Did you know,  if you volcano mulch the tree, it can kill it? Also for rural and urban forestry there are economic and social community benefits. Socially if there are more trees there is less crime rate, more well-being, less graffiti and less asthma. Another fun fact, in Tennessee there are four cities that rank in the top 10 cities of the United States of people having asthma. Trees filter out a lot of the pollution which helps people breath better.   The last of goals is education workshops, as needed.  At one of their events they sorted their own waste; they had 7lb of landfill waste, 17lb of recyclables, and 30lb of compost. This can be done at any event!

TEC has been around for 41 years, they have been around since 1970. They brought TBA to comply in the 70’s and they won the largest water conservation in the mid 90’s at $1.25 million. Since they have been around for 41 years, their biggest obstacle is political rhetoric, inertia and money. The same goes for their obstacle in the future. They have many loyal donors, but because of the economical time, it is getting harder. Plus a change for the better is often more difficult than a change for the worse.

TEC gets their word out by social media, their website, an e-newsletter, a hard copy once a year newsletter, through public speaking and through Tennessee Wildside, it is a video for the Tennessee Tree Project that will air in April on CBS. Unsure of the date, it will either be April 4, or 9, either way that Saturday it will be at 6:30pm and then it will air again the following Sunday at 9am. With so much that is going on, you would think it would be a massive crew, but it is only built up of 3 full time workers and couple off and on part time workers.

How can you be volunteer for TEC? Help with the tree planting days (on February 4, they planted 5,611 trees and had 180 volunteers!), help with the Green Tie Affair on March 24 (they will need help sorting the waste afterwards), and lastly, you can call your legislator! The TEC recruits their volunteers by email posts, through specific groups, for example: school and youth groups. In the next few weeks here is what is going on:

  • March 17- trying again to plant over 5,000 trees (Nashville area)
  • March 24- Green Tie Affair at Marathon Music Works- Show your green!
  • March 31- planting trees again
  • Call your legislator about the Scenic Vista Act

Tennessee Environmental Council gets their money from three places: major donors (which make up about ½), grants and earned income. From all this money 8-10% goes to overhead and administrative cost, the rest goes into the organization.

What does the future hold? They plan on continuing to pursue their mission statement through the core programs, develop core education workshops; including sustain business workshop which will benefit your small to medium size businesses and the storm water coordinators. They plan to plant 15-20 thousand trees, which will mean planting 10,000 trees each day in two days. For the Watershed they want to reach more communities they already have seven, they will like to add two-three. Then for the Sustainability TN legislation, go back to the drawing table for the agenda, hope to have 150-300 people to help participate and help prioritize it.

TEC has increased success in 40 years, for every dollar they receive they make that an investment in the future. They try to stretch every penny out of it to leverage with volunteers, grants and corporations, through the volunteer labor leverage with the grants. They are very thankful and appreciative of every dollar that comes their way. When you look at their mission statement, they know that the three things are linked together like a chain. When you compromise one you compromise them all. Lastly, they make connections in places that count with everyone: politicians, business leaders, families, schools, churches, etc., they are constantly making connections.

If you would like more information about this organization visit www.tectn.org

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