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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bluegrass PRIDE: Much to be thankful for in 2012 — family, pets, environmental awareness

By Amy Sohner
KyForward contributor

After half of the month is over, I have finally been guilted into saying publically what I am thankful for. Those of you on Facebook have probably been bombarded with daily status updates announcing what each of our friends are thankful for. I don’t know who came up with this tradition, but this is not the first year I have seemed ungrateful for not sending 30, sweet, public, daily notes to celebrate turkey day.

Amy Sohner's dog Merle (Photo provided)

So now that I have finally succumbed, I have to try to narrow it down. It is obviously not hard to imagine that I am grateful for my wonderful family —which has recently grown by one— who are amazing, loving, funny and healthy. But I thought that writing how much they mean to me may be a bit too easy. So instead, I would like to publically share how happy I am that it is 2012.

I started to work for Bluegrass PRIDE in 2002. At that time, we wished that the environment was “cool”. I remember hoping that one day environmental causes would be championed by celebrities and that supporting our local environment would become second nature. In 2012 we have not had a Green Hands Across America, or “Green AID” but the environment is much more hip than it used to be.

Another giant change in the last 10 years that I am thankful for is the growth in green products. Though I am very concerned about too many chemicals in my house and how far my food travels before it reaches my table, I am also very lazy. Now, in 2012, I can buy biodegradable cleaners and Kentucky Proud meat at my local Kroger. The next challenge is to figure out exactly which products are truly environmentally friendly and those that are just “greenwashed”, but that is the subject of a different article.

I am also extremely thankful that in 11 years, PRIDE has grown from a staff of two to 14 and the incredible work that we have completed with our talented staff. I have never worked with a more dedicated, passionate group of people, and am proud every day of the work we achieve.

I am also grateful for the media. Now, in 2012, I meet more and more people who have not only heard of Bluegrass PRIDE, but who have also bought a rain barrel, attended a workshop on energy efficiency, or any of our other many educational forums. Much of our outreach would not be as successful without the radio, television, and online and print news outlet relationships we have built (including KY Forward) since our inception. PRIDE gets exposure that for-profit entities pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for, and our message would be lost without it.

Finally, on a slightly more personal note, I was reminded this weekend how thankful I am for my animal family. For my entire life, I have been surrounded by some sort of animal companions. These included everything from hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs to horses, chickens and dogs.

They have been important members of my family (even though they may have taken a back seat since my daughters were born), and their loss always hurts deeply. My 12 year old dog Merle was hit and killed by a truck this weekend, and my family and I spent time with our remaining menagerie. Though I am not sure the exact impact his loss had on our dog Henry, or our four cats, they provided much needed solace to my husband and me, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Amy Sohner is executive director of Bluegrass PRIDE and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with PRIDE since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, 5-year-old daughter and a multitude of pets.



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