Whether he means to or not, every dad teaches his children about leadership. Through our actions, words, and emotions we are an example to our children of how to lead. Acts of leadership we share are doing things as simple as arriving at an appointment on time, following through with a commitment, and respecting others. While actions speak louder than words, kids also notice the words we say and how we say them. Oftentimes, we lead without even realizing it.
Raising leaders also requires deliberate effort on our part. It requires that we ask ourselves: what skills, knowledge, lessons, and ideas can I share with my kids that will hopefully be useful to them someday? Two skills I feel are important to share with my children are how to be an engaged citizen, and why it is important to respect our natural environment. People who are engaged with their community understand the issues and can be a vital part of informed decision-making. Those who respect the natural environment understand the quality of the world we hand our children depends on how we live our lives today.
In the 14 years since my oldest son was born, I have served on many appointed boards and commissions, volunteered with nonprofit organizations, and coached youth sports teams. Of those experiences, some of the most rewarding have been those volunteering with my wife and two boys at Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) community beautification events. Our first event was a flower planting at Bicentennial Park in downtown Reno. It was amazing. We spent the morning weeding, planting, and generally playing in the dirt. Since then, we have volunteered together at KTMB’s annual Christmas Tree recycling, Great Community Clean Up, and Truckee River Clean Up events. Each event showed my children the benefits of being an active citizen who is willing to work hard on a Saturday to make his community a better place to live.
In addition to volunteering at community events, I serve as a board member on KTMB’s Board of Trustees, including as Board President in 2016-2017. As a board member, I’ve led, contributed to, and experienced KTMB as it has become a regional leader in community beautification, environmental education, and sustainability. One of the most rewarding parts of serving is knowing that when my children see KTMB’s Recycling Guide or have a Waste Warriors presentation from KTMB’s education staff at their school, they think of me and the small mark I made on the organization, our community, and their lives.
Whether they choose to follow in my footsteps or (more likely) blaze their own trail will be up to them. Either way, seeing leadership in action and volunteering for an organization like KTMB will be guideposts as they navigate their lives and one day have the opportunity to raise leaders of their own.
Peter Gower is a native Nevadan and the father of two boys. When he is not volunteering or working as an environmental planning consultant, he can be found traveling, skiing, hiking, cycling, or boating with his family.