Live Your “Why”: A Special Message from Princeton Hydro’s President

Friends of Princeton Hydro,

Welcome, Spring! As the sun shines through the window of my “remote office,” for a moment, I am able to set aside the pandemonium that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused, and feel the warmth of the season changing. As the native wildflowers emerge and spring migrants return, we are reminded that the environment persists on, even when society comes to a halt.

We, at Princeton Hydro, are heartbroken to see small businesses and nonprofits struggling to keep their doors open and operations running. As more “stay-at-home” and “non-essential closure” orders are issued across the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, I consider us lucky. As a professional service-based business, our firm performs engineering designs and scientific analyses, a majority of which can be conducted remotely. And, with offices spread across the Northeast, we were prepared for this moment, as we rely upon remote collaboration between offices on a daily basis.

But, it takes more than just having the technology at our fingertips. What enables success even more than working laptops and VPN connections is a motivated and dedicated staff. The people at Princeton Hydro live our mission and core values. They are determined to serve our clients and keep us open, and are the reason why I love going to work everyday. Our deep-seated, shared motivator, which we call our “why” statement, drives our productivity and engagement: “We are committed to changing our ecosystems, quality of life, and communities for the better.”

For those who are not familiar, a “why” statement is the most basic and elemental reason for “how” and “what” we do. Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why, defines “why” as the firm’s purpose or belief. As Sinek states, most companies start with “what they do” and “how they do it” and very few can clearly articulate “why” they do what they do. Defining your “why” allows people to feel connected, like we belong to something bigger, because it aligns with our own values and beliefs.

We believe that starting with “why” enables Princeton Hydro to connect with our clients, hire the right staff, and build partnerships founded in our shared mission and values. It is that short and simple sentence which drives each and every person at Princeton Hydro to do the best they can, not only to meet client needs, but to ensure that we are making a positive impact on those around us, even during these trying times. Not being able to walk up and say “hello” and ask how our people are doing in-person has necessitated our need to communicate even more regularly than we would have.

With the transition to remote working, we got creative in maintaining intimate communication and connection. About one month ago, we instituted internal “Daily Connection” video calls to brief our staff on government executive order changes, employee benefit options, fieldwork safety protocols, and workflow updates. We’ve shifted to using Google Hangouts for most of our regular meetings. We use interactive tools, such as Mentimeter™, to engage 40-50 employees on our daily check-ins. And, each Friday, we’re hosting virtual, themed Happy Hours to unwind and share stories over cocktails. While these virtual events have become the temporary norm, we may opt to integrate these newfound ways of connecting upon return to our in-office lifestyle. Afterall, “returning to normal” is a misnomer, as this worldwide pandemic has forever changed the way we operate moving forward.

Nonetheless, there is a positive twist to all of this. Previously, I did not take the opportunity to see, chat, and check-in with the entire staff on a day-to-day basis. However, working remotely has provided me with the luxury of talking to all of our people, whether over email, text, direct message, phone, and/or video chat.

And, while I joke about not knowing what day it is and being stuck at home, I’ve been able to spend quality time with my wife Amy, our two boys, and our rambunctious hound Blue, making sure to take breaks to laugh with them about the conundrum we are in. I’ve also caught up with extended family and close friends, where in “normal times” we make the excuse of being simply too busy. This unexpected mandatory remote lifestyle has enabled us to develop a deeper connection with each other and spend more time with our families. This is clearly the silver lining to the state of our world at this time.

We do recognize that there are people struggling to make ends meet and those who are suffering from this terrible virus. Whether it be a neighbor, local business, or acquaintance, together, we must find the strength to support those who are in need. Whether it be helping a friend, ordering takeout from local restaurants, or donating funds to relief efforts, let’s come together (virtually) to give back to the community. And, let us be reminded to take the time to enjoy the little things we usually take for granted.

In closing, I encourage you to live your “why.” Use this time to make a positive difference, appreciate what you have, make the best of this situation, and, most importantly, help those who need it.

With gratitude to all,

Geoffrey M. Goll, P.E.
President
Princeton Hydro

Tips to Celebrate Earth Day 2020 While Social Distancing

Earth Day gatherings around the world have been cancelled due to COVID-19, but we can still do our part to honor this important occasion. We’ve put together a list of fun ideas and helpful tips to celebrate Earth Day 2020 safely and responsibly:


Get Outside, Safely

Illustration by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Getting outdoors is a great way to celebrate Earth Day, and it can boost your mental and physical health. While remaining mindful about maintaining safe social distancing practices, we can still get outside to take advantage of the spring weather and enjoy the outdoor adventures in our own backyards.

Earth Month Scavenger Hunt from Eco Promotional Products

For more tips on social distancing while visiting parks and natural areas, check out this helpful info from NJ Department of Environmental Protection.


Clean-up Your Neighborhood

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

Although large volunteer clean-up events are postponed due to social distancing guidelines, we can still do our part to pick-up trash and protect our local waterways. Here are a few ideas:

  • When you go outside for an afternoon walk, bring gloves and a garbage bag so you can pick up any trash you see along the way.

  • Check the storm drains in your neighborhood and remove and discard any debris that you find. Get started by reading these DIY tips!


Get Crafting & Birdwatching

Here are some simple DIY crafting ideas to help you pass the time and improve your backyard birdwatching.

  • Orange Feeder: Oranges are a tasty, energizing snack loved by several bird species, especially the Baltimore Oriole. Follow a few simple steps for building an orange feeder, and then sit back and enjoy your backyard bird watching experience!

  • Hummingbird Nectar: Bring more hummingbirds to your backyard this season in a few easy steps! By filling your feeder with this DIY delight, you can watch these beautiful little birds feed and flitter all day.

  • Heart-Shaped Feeder: Show your local songbirds some love with this DIY heart-shaped bird feeder. It makes a charming decoration for your backyard trees.

If you’re interested in taking your birdwatching adventures beyond your backyard, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers a variety of information and online resources to help you do so.


Get your Yard Spring-Ready

Residential homes and neighborhoods can benefit from the implementation of green infrastructure in more ways than many people realize. Planting native flower beds reduces runoff and attracts important pollinators.

  • Reduce Invasives, Plant Natives: Tulips will soon be emerging from the ground, buds blossoming on trees and, unfortunately, invasive plant species will too begin their annual growing cycle. Invasive species create major impacts on ecosystems near and far, but we can all do our part to reduce the spread. To learn more about aquatic invasive species and how to address them, check out our blog.

  • Prepare your Pond for Spring: If you have a pond on your property, check out these six steps for taking your pond out of hibernation mode, sprucing it up for Spring, and ensuring it remains healthy all year long.


Be Water-Wise

Now that we’re all spending more time at home, this is a great opportunity to incorporate better water-conservation practices into our daily lives.

  • Reduce water waste by checking for leaks that have been caused by winter freeze. Check garden hose spigots and sprinklers, and replace valves, washers and other components as necessary.

  • Install a rain barrel and use the captured rainfall to irrigate flower beds. This is another fun and inexpensive way to reduce runoff and save water. You can order a rain barrel online or search online for DIY rain barrel ideas. Remember to cover your barrels to keep mosquitoes at bay.

  • Go here for more water conservation tips.


Let’s Talk Toilets

According to the USEPA, toilets account for more water use than any other water-consuming product in your home. Toilets are estimated to be responsible for upwards of 30% of household water consumption. Additionally, flushing anything besides toilet paper has major negative impacts on the environment.

  • Eliminate toilet leaks: 79% of water lost in the home is through toilet leaks. Often silent, these leaks can waste up to 300 gallons of water per day. Check for leaks using food coloring. Replace the refill valve or flush valve when necessary.

  • Flush Responsibly: NY State Department of Environmental Conservation recently issued an email requesting more responsible flushing habits. As a reminder, disinfectant wipes, diapers, baby wipes, personal hygiene products, and any paper products other than toilet paper should never be flushed! These materials create significant damage to sewer systems, water treatment plants, and septic systems. Learn more.


Go Digital

Earth Day 2020, which also happens to be the 50th anniversary, will now be the first-ever Digital Earth Day. Here are a few ways to celebrate from the safety of your home:

  • Participate in a global Citizen Science effort! Download the Earth Challenge 2020 smart phone app to submit observations of the environment around your home. The data you submit will be validated, and the resulting database—of over one billion data points—will be displayed on a public map for researchers to use.

  • Participate in the Rutger’s Cooperative Extension “Earth Day at Home” free webinar series! Every Monday at 6:30pm EST, starting April 20 through June 29, the live and interactive 1-hour sessions will focus on steps everyone can take to protect the environment. Topics include environmentally friendly lawn care, backyard composting, reducing plastic and food waste, and so much more.

  • Sign-up to be a part of the largest environment mobilization in history: EarthDay.org’s EARTHRISE initiative, which includes social media campaigns, online teach-ins, performances, and more. Find a digital Earth Day Event!

Inspire others to celebrate Earth Day 2020 responsibly by documenting your activities and sharing on social media with hashtags: #EarthDay, #EarthDay2020, #EARTHRISE, and #RecreateLocal. To read about Princeton Hydro’s past Earth Day celebrations, go here.