Florida A&M’s School of the Environment hosted a fireside chat on Friday with Daniel Blackman, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional 4 administrator.
This event was moderated by Joel Blount, Jr., the school’s coordinator of academic programs, and Courtney Wallace. It marked the debut of the program’s spring 2022 seminar series.
“I’m looking forward to not only having a robust conversation and engaging with you all, but I’m looking forward to really looking at how we can work closer together,” Blackman said.
“Not just from a recruitment standpoint but being able to build something better with each of you.”
Blackman, a well-mannered professional, opened up about his background and how he reached the position he is in today. He is the son of Barbados immigrants and he graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a focus on international business and finance.
After his time at Clark, he received an opportunity to work with iconic civil rights activists including Coretta Scott King, John Lewis and Joseph Lowery. Working with the civil and human rights leaders gave him a first-hand look at what issues were plaguing minority, poor and working-class communities.
As he quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., he began to explain the interconnectedness of humans and the environment. He talked about how environmental racism impacts everyone starting with access to safe living quarters, clean air and access to clean water.
In Florida, eco-tourism is a significant driver of the economy. But with rising sea levels, Florida’s landmass and biodiversity are in jeopardy.
The EPA creates and enforces laws that protect the environment and human health. As part of their mission, they aim to ensure that all Americans have clean air, land and water. Efforts to reduce environmental risks create the need for environmental stewardship, which promotes energy efficiency, sustainable growth, and pollution prevention.
Blackman serves Region 4, which includes Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and six federally recognized tribes. Region 4 makes up approximately 11% of the county’s land area, 14% of its watersheds and the most river miles in the continental United States, according to the EPA website.
The EPA offers positions in other fields outside of science and technology. These include community coordinators, public relations, educators, accountants, and administrative support to staff. Blackman hopes to recruit and inspire students from all majors to join the EPA in its mission of providing clean resources to all Americans.
The EPA’s Office of Research and Development has committed to building a highly trained and diverse workforce that reflects the people it serves. Blackman said that the EPA is launching an outreach program targeting HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. FAMU is the first HBCU in Region 4 that Blackman has sought out for recruitment.
“In EPA, we will be onboarding up to 80 new hires this year alone,” Blackman said. “Help us build the EPA of the future.”
The future of EPA not only includes those in science and technology but an array of occupations.
“We need more storytellers and journalists; they are the assets to our community because too often the streams of communication to our communities are somehow disenfranchised, water down or forgotten,” Blackman said.