Our newest employee shares some thoughts on his first visit to Shepherdstown, meeting the full team in person
SkyTruth’s in-person gathering two weeks ago—its first in 30 months—was what most work retreats wish they could be.
After a mere six days on the job, my supervisor, COO Jenny Allen, already was offering me a room at her father’s house, where I would crash during my three days in Shepherdstown. John Amos, our CEO, greeted me at the door upon my arrival and immediately offered to take me into town for a quick tour. The town’s charm—a little row of bars, cafés, and coffee shops flanked by Shepherd University’s McMurran Hall—set me at ease. The stress that oozes from D.C., near my home in Alexandria, must have dissipated somewhere downstream on the Potomac River. Instantly, I knew this would not be the sort of awkward, staid work retreat I’d experienced in the past.
On Monday, the entire SkyTruth team assembled for a half-day to reflect on the past two years, both personally and professionally. It amazed me how open and honest my new colleagues were as they recapped the ups and downs of their lives in the time of COVID. I felt emboldened to share my own trials and tribulations, knowing that the people around me would greet them with genuine understanding. That evening, we kicked back at a local park to chow down, shoot the breeze, and even toss the disc around. Our nightcap at the Bavarian Inn—where we gazed out on the winding banks of the Potomac—was practically therapeutic.
The next day, we got down to business. I worked with Mitchelle De Leon, our Director of Impact and Strategic Partnerships, to produce a film with John, in which he described our nascent Cerulean platform. We then convened as a full team at Shepherd University’s Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, exchanging ideas for organizational growth and evaluating the range of potential users of SkyTruth tools. We deliberated on upcoming projects and built on one another’s thoughts to reach consensus. The level of detail was painstaking, but invaluable. Following this meeting of the minds, we headed to Jenny’s house for dinner. There, we celebrated Geospatial Engineer Christian Thomas’ birthday, and I learned about the delightfully quirky SkyTruth tradition of the person of honor eating the first bite of cake under the table.
Wednesday morning, I hit the road for Alexandria with a wealth of ideas and positivity in tow. I’d just experienced a company gathering that was actually inspiring—just don’t call it a retreat.