EP Member Spotlight: Marilyn Baxter
Meet Marilyn Baxter, EP the former Environment Manager at Hamilton Port Authority and winner of Hamilton’s Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award!
She recently retired and was the leading voice and champion for the Hamilton Harbour restoration since 1993. Starting out as a volunteer helping with the restoration, her passion and devotion, combined with environmental expertise, eventually led her to become the Executive Director of the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC). This enabled her to play a leading role in mobilizing local volunteers, raising awareness, and garnering community support.
Today the thriving harbour is a central part of city of Hamilton, ON and is enjoyed by the local public, allowing for recreation along the waterfront.
Her leadership role in BARC also led her to play a role in various environmental advisory committees, including Great Lakes Advisory Committee during the inception of the Green Marine environmental certification program and Chair of Hamilton Remedial Subcommittee: Colonial Nesting Birds.
In recognition of her accomplishments and environmental excellence for over 25 years, Marilyn was honored with Hamilton’s Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award.
ECO Canada was pleased to interview Marilyn and share some excerpts of that interview with our readers.
Let’s start from the very beginning. When did you decided to pursue a career in the Environmental sector?
It all began when I took Chemistry as a subject during High School. I was very fascinated with science in general and the course provided me with a basic understanding of the cause and effects of chemicals to our environment.
After High School I decided to go to Fanshawe College in London, ON and completed a 3-year Environmental Technology diploma.
It’s impressive to know that at a very early age you found your calling. Could you tell us more what was it like after graduating from College?
Education is very important to enter the Environmental Field. I worked as an Environment Researcher for 8 years upon graduation and I took some time off in between to raise a family.
Describe your involvement with the Remedial Action Plan for restoring Hamilton Bay Area and what was the extent of your involvement?
The late 80’s was a challenging time for Hamilton. The roaring Steel Mills and a busy Hamilton Port was an economic corner stone. The environmental impact of this economic activity was debilitating, causing water and air pollution. It was becoming unsustainable and an action plan was needed to restore balance.
When I became a part of BARC in 1993, the most challenging aspect of my role was bringing together diverse stakeholders such as local politicians, steel producers, and various associations to develop an inclusive Remedial Action Plan to restore the Hamilton Harbour.
I lead the execution, coordination and communication of the Remedial Action Plan and reported on the progress to all key stakeholders and ensured the plan was on track.
Today Hamilton Harbour is fully restored and a vibrant part of the community. I would say that it is my proudest accomplishment to date.
That’s a remarkable achievement, with lasting impact on the environment and the local community. Given your proven experience leading big environmental projects, what made you decide to pursue the Environmental Professional (EP) designation from ECO Canada?
At the time of my graduation from Fanshawe College, very few universities offered post-secondary degrees to further my education. As a result, I joined the work force and fast-forward to 2006 I became an EP. It was driven by my desire to showcase my expertise and be recognized in the industry as an Environmental leader.
The EP designation follows a rigorous process and it gave me the credibility I needed to succeed in my present role as an Environmental Health & Safety Manager for Hamilton Port Authority. As a federally regulated agency, I rely on my knowledge of environmental rules and by-laws to actively communicate and engage with our tenants and to minimize environmental impact and upholding the best operational practices. The EP designation helped establish authority to reinforce environmental guidelines to our tenants.
What advice would you give for people starting out in their environmental career?
Be passionate about the environment and work collaboratively with stakeholders. Results are not always guaranteed, but persistence will lead to a greater chance of success. Before getting involved in a project, it’s important to understand the scope, so you can then understand complexities and work towards a solution. Communication is key!
What advice would you give to environmental professionals who want to get ahead?
Investing in professional development through ongoing training is essential to improving job performance and understanding external factors impacting the work environment. Stay informed on the latest technological innovations respective to their fields and understand new environmental legislations. Attend environmentally focused events, connect with industry peers, share ideas and build a strong network of environmental professionals.
What were some of the key benefits you enjoyed as an EP?
As an EP, I appreciated having access to various online training courses and webinars which I took develop skill sets and industry knowledge. The nationally recognized designation gave me added credibility and to be able to add EP next to my name on business cards, was a way to differentiate myself from other environmental professionals.
Would you recommend EP to aspiring environmental professionals?
Yes, I would highly recommend it both young and experienced environmental professionals who are looking to gain a competitive edge. The EP designation follows a rigorous eligibility process, which is necessary to distinguish yourself from your peers.
Marilyn, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us today. Congratulations on winning the Lifetime Achievement Award. We wish you a happy retirement, and hope we remain connected in the years to come.