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How Toastmasters Changed My Life

February 4, 2015

Five years ago, I found myself preparing a presentation on duckweed for a conference in China. The audience would be PhD world-class researchers and I didn’t even have a college degree. I felt totally out of my league. So I hunted on the Internet and discovered that there was a club called Toastmasters in Paducah, KY that helped members learn how to communicate more effectively. Perfect!

I visited a meeting. Without warning, they made me get up and tell a little bit about myself. I remember turning bright red and not being able to think of a single thing to say. The club members told me that that happens a lot at first and were so supportive, I knew I’d come to the right place. That was five years ago.

During these past five years of being a Toastmaster, I have become amazingly confident and actually LOVE speaking in public at a moment’s notice. I’ve given over fifty speeches so far and look forward to receiving my Distinguished Toastmaster award this coming summer- the highest honor one can achieve in Toastmasters. I’ve enjoyed serving in various club officer roles through the years and each one has taught me solid leadership skills. As a result, I felt confident in co-founding and leading the first nonprofit in the world dedicated to commercial duckweed production, ILA (International Lemna Association) and my own duckweed company, GreenSun Products.

I currently serve as Area 65 Governor for Toastmasters, Intl. With the encouragement of my peers, I’ve recently decided to run for an elected position- that of Division F Governor. I’ve never run for election before so this is yet another fascinating learning curve.

I currently belong to THREE clubs at the same time and enjoy many friendships with fellow club members. These are my peeps- we’re all self-motivators, self-learners, and just a bit on the nerdy side. Seems like every time I turn around, one of us is getting promoted, are handed a huge raise or land a better job because of our rock-solid skill sets learned in Toastmasters.

Remember that China presentation? Nailed it big-time and even ended up moderating sessions at the conference!

Boy, I love Toastmasters!
lang: en_US

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jan permalink
    February 28, 2015 2:13 am

    Hi Tamra,
    I’ve just finished reading all of your blog entries, and wanted to thank you for all of your great insight of the virtues of duckweed. I’ve been doing research of my own on sustainability. I’ve been feeding my animals barley fodder for about 4 years now, and have found incredible success with it. A by-product of this system is water that has saturated the grain during the sprouting process, and carries a lot of heavy starches with it. My question, do you have any information regarding utilizing duckweed on the barley water to be able to clean it well enough to reuse it? I’m contemplating expanding my pond this year to introduce duckweed as a nutritional supplement for my livestock, but before I begin dumping my ‘fodder water’ into my pond, I wanted to know if the duckweed would be able to keep up with cleaning the water. I’ve tried duckweed on a small scale and have used it for feed supplements on my chickens and turkeys as a ‘proof of concept’ to myself (did the same trials when starting the fodder system as well) and the water seems cleaner when going into the small duckweed containers I have.My pond is a closed system, it doesn’t drain into any other body of water. I want to eventually be able to harvest and pelletize the duckweed for a great protein supplement for my larger livestock (pigs and cows) for winter feeding as well.
    Thank you for all of your great information,
    Jan

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    • February 28, 2015 9:44 am

      Jan, what a fascinating project! I do not know of any researchers that have studied barley water remediation but there are several companies that use duckweed for wastewater remediation of many sources including municipal, industrial, and textile. I would try several trials of duckweed remediation of your waste water (barley) by a control of duckweed in local water, additions of barley water in various concentrations, and adding a nitrogen source just to round out your NPK if you have enough containers. I know that barley straw leachate will kill algae, but I do not know how it affects duckweed, if at all. Experimentation time! Keep me posted on your progress.

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