Stephen Bailey prepares to zip-line in Amicalola Falls State Park.

In 2016 Stephen Bailey embarked on a journey that took him from zip-lining through Amicalola Falls State Park, to snorkeling in the protected Ichauway Nochaway Creek. It was an experience that would alter the course of his career and strengthen his dedication to Georgia’s environmental future.

“I consider myself a Georgia boy, I started off playing in creeks and I haven’t really stopped,” Bailey says with a chuckle.

As a former student in the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL) Program, Stephen Bailey’s recent progression to the Board of Directors was a natural next step.

IGEL is an experiential environmental leadership, self-awareness and fundamentals training course that takes place during five, multi-day sessions in different parts of the state.

Bailey’s eyes light up as he recalls group environmental classroom discussions and talks about exciting hands-on learning courses in Georgia’s diverse economic and natural regions.

While sharing some of his most memorable sessions, Bailey smiles as he describes a stimulating hike along the Atlanta BeltLine, paddling down the scenic Flynt River, fish sampling in the lush North Georgia mountains and spending time in University of Georgia (UGA) crop extension labs. These exclusive excursions have helped educate numerous participants on different environmental challenges and opportunities throughout Georgia, he states.

Mary Freeman, PhD from USGS, helps IGEL participants with fish sampling.

One of the best things about IGEL is that classes are comprised of many different industry professionals representing Georgia’s economic, ethnic, geographic and institutional diversity, Bailey reveals. Notable alumni include environmental managers from Cox Enterprises, Southern Company Gas, Coca-Cola, Georgia Power, The Nature Conservancy, and Gulfstream Aerospace among many others.

“Similar to my own experience in 2016 as a student, I hope everyone in the program will gel with their classmates, let their guard down and get crunchy and deep with the experience,” Bailey says. “The program offers great value to a professional and by embracing it, participants come away with a better self-awareness and knowledge of the importance of teamwork and leadership.”

Pausing to reflect, Bailey describes IGEL as an extremely formative personal experience. During the final course of his 2016 student session, he joined Pond as the Environmental Services Program Manager.

Stephen Bailey with IGEL classmate Bryan Schroeder.

At Pond, Stephen Bailey provides comprehensive environmental solutions for client projects and provides a unique balance of stewardship and efficient project execution that are often a win for the project and the environment.

“I’ve always been a naturalist, I’ve always been outside and as a kid I was interested in understanding nature and how humans are a part of it all,” Bailey adds. “I was fortunate to find a degree program, and career, that facilitated my environmental passion. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to participate in IGEL as a board member and advance my clients’ interests while responsibly managing natural resources.”

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