Tomorrow we leave on our US study trip, which officially means we’re past the halfway point with VALOR. I’ve thought a lot about how fast this program is passing. Seminar VI, like all of the seminars thus far, was fantastic. For me, one of the most meaningful experiences was the weekend on the bay with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Fifteen years ago I chaperoned a bay trip with my former high school agriculture teacher. A few years before that, I did an externship with the CBF at the urging of the same teacher. Many great memories came back during the short time the VALOR fellows spent with the CBF.
Looking back, the CBF planted ideas and awareness with me as a young person. Although I’ve had no direct involvement with CBF in the intervening years, it was easy to recall the concepts and ideas they made me aware of years ago. The CBF chose to invest in me as a trip participant and as an extern not knowing what the end result would be. But, they invested in the future. At the end of the day, that’s what VALOR is all about. No one knows what this program will look like in five or ten years, but an incredibly diverse group of stakeholders is investing with a long-term view. Which of the visits, the speakers, or the experiences will someone recall fondly in fifteen years? Who will the fellows come across in a completely different context down the road, and what benefit will come about? On behalf of the inaugural class, let me take this moment to say thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the program so far. We’re all looking forward to experiencing the future with VALOR and being a part of the long-term investment strategy.