Celebrating Public Service Recognition Week

Public service. Some say it’s a calling – the chance to make a difference in the lives of real people, while engaging in challenging work. 

The challenge of making a difference won’t make you rich (though the benefits are great!) and you’ll have to deal with the hurdles of politics and critical public scrutiny. It’s tough and often thankless work. 

But if you’re someone who wants to give something back, public service can be extremely rewarding. 

This week, May 2-8, is the annual celebration of Public Service Recognition Week, created in 1985 to honor individuals who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees. In recognition, we’re highlighting a handful of TCEQ scientists and other subject-matter experts who devote their working hours to protecting Texas waters and air quality. 

To help spread the word about their important roles, they’ve taken time to break down for elementary and middle school students the benefits of what they do through a series of virtual field trips piloted through Dallas ISD.  

Even if you’re a college-educated adult with a busy work and personal life, there’s something refreshing about having complex technical topics explained to you like you’re a fifth grader. I now know more about river biodiversity, weather and climate, estuary systems and water quality than I ever thought possible (admittedly not that much for an English major!) Feel free to skip ahead and check out the playlist of virtual field trips now, but we’ll be highlighting one video each day this to keep the Public Service Recognition going all week long. 

As noted, government work comes with its own special challenges. But whether you think government should be bigger or smaller, our efforts at TCEQ are to make it better. The agency is comprised of 2,800 employees in offices across the state who care about their environment and use their skills—from accounting to engineering to human resources to biology—to make Texas a better place to live. In other words, public service. 

In the words of Commissioner Bobby Janecka to TCEQ staff in a recent email: “Environmental protection is a technically complex field, fraught with many areas of potential controversy, and I consider it a testament to all of you—your professionalism and dedication to your work—as the biggest reason we continue to navigate these waters with what I believe is continued success. Thank you all for all you do and have done over the years.”  

From the bottom of my heart, what he said. Cheers to all my fellow public servants—may you celebrate well this week.