UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. John Katers has been named Green Bay Southwest High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2012.
Katers, Natural and Applied Sciences, is a 1986 graduate of Southwest who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental science from UW-Green Bay. He earned his doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Katers is widely recognized as an authority on recycling, waste management, renewable energy and more. Here, he offers his thoughts on the Distinguished Alumni Award — and his message for the leaders of tomorrow.
Katers: It’s really cool. It’s really cool and personally I look at all the great people — you know, I just had my 25th class reunion and the people in the room — there’s lawyers, there’s doctors, there’s all kinds of people that are doing great things. And in some ways I feel very undeserving of the award, and in other ways I feel like well now I’ve just got to keep going and working harder and doing more to live up to that award.
I’m going to talk about Barry Commoner, as part of my presentation, and he wrote a book called “Closing the Circle” back in 1971. And it was really talking about ecology, and he came up with four key themes. You know, some of those themes were, you know there essentially is no ‘away’ — and I’ve made a career of, you know, dealing with waste. I know there’s no ‘away’ — we see it in the rivers, we see it in the landfills, we see it everywhere.
He also said that nature knows best. … The other thing he said is that everything is connected, and as you start to see all these interactions between air and water and land, it is truly connected.
The final message that he had is that there is no free lunch. … I think that’s the challenge for this generation, is to understand they need to be connected, they need to make their community a better place to live in and they’re going to have to work really hard to do that.
For more on Katers and the Alumni honor, see our full news post.