NAVFAC Marianas Environmentalist Inspires High School Students
TALOFOFO, Guam – Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas Environmentalist Mark Cruz spoke to students about his passion for his occupation during a career day at Notre Dame High School in Talofofo, Guam, April 18.
As the regional environmental coordinator of compliance for military training on Guam, Cruz and his team are responsible for overseeing environmental protection during military training exercises for the Mariana Islands Range Complex.
“What I’m showing here is that we do care about the environment; we have experts that are military employees that our mission is to protect the (environment),” he said. “A lot of the work I do is interesting to me and the military is a big part of our community here and it’s kind of like removing the haze about what goes on behind the fence.”
During his presentation, Cruz showed examples of different military exercises he and his team prepare for to brief personnel on about environmental concerns within a particular training area such as Tinian and Farallon de Medinilla.
“There’s a lot of misconception folks might have about the military and what the military does,” he said. “We can’t not train the military, and at the same time we have to comply with environmental rules and by compiling with these we are better neighbors, and we are respectful of our geographical and historical sites.”
Notre Dame High School history teacher Nicole O’Mallan said she was pleased to have Cruz speak to students and hoped the presentation would inspire them pursue careers of their particular interest.
“It’s very helpful to the students because when they’re taking all these different courses they have… they have no idea how they’re going to apply that to a future career,” she said. “Mostly the careers they see are teachers and then they see what their parents do or their family members do. But a lot of them don’t really have that other avenue to really explore other careers.”
Cruz said he was glad to speak to the students and spread awareness for opportunities they have after high school.
“I think when I spoke about the biologist and making sure they have the proper level of training and expertise to do that to be qualified they realized how much work it takes,” he said. “I think what they probably came away with was, ‘Wow, okay you really do need to be trained and educated to do certain stuff.”