As researchers, we focus on sound science and as a company, we root ourselves in the principles of business. But at FISHBIO, we also value a third element of our work just as highly: that of responsibility. The historic American culture of capitalism suggests that if everyone focuses on being self-sufficient and successful, those around us will benefit indirectly. While this is sometimes true, we think the mantra falls short of ensuring a better, sustainable tomorrow – so we prefer to take direct action to serve our communities and help our environment, both locally and globally.
In a world of mergers, acquisitions, and restructures, the term ‘corporate responsibility’ often has a connotation similar to that of a flu shot: many feel it is necessary, not everyone subscribes to its effectiveness, and it is often in short supply. But being a conscientious company is not about mandates, social perceptions, or even being trendy; being responsible for the world around us is a way of life. Through our daily business, we’ve learned that we need to be efficient, competitive, and consistent to succeed. Yet our team is also motivated by another set of core values that we feel need to be expressed: desire to share, give back, and make a difference.
Identifying that we wanted to be a different kind of company was the first step. Making this a reality is the fun part. Each year we seek out opportunities to practice ‘responsibility,’ not as a requirement, but as part of our company culture to give back. We’ve seen firsthand how small measures can make a big impact. For example, if you want to find a good source of rusting shopping carts, visit a bridge overpass and take a swim in the river below. In 2013, our team participated in six river cleanup events to remove this kind of harmful debris from local rivers. Our motivation was obvious, given the importance of clean rivers as healthy fish habitat, but rivers are also an important source of our nation’s drinking water. National cleanup programs such as this have removed 17 million pounds of trash from American waterways over the last 20 years, and we can affirm that there is still plenty to do in 2014.
We also make a regular practice of visiting local classrooms and participating in community outreach events. In early 2014, we took this a step further by creating our Three Rivers Education Program, which is a FISHBIO grassroots effort to educate children in our home cities (Oakdale and Chico, CA) as well as the country of Laos about the importance of rivers, fish, and culture. Children learned about native fish in their own backyard, exchanged photos and letters with classrooms in the other respective country, and got to know Chinook salmon and Mekong giant catfish. We hope this early exposure to the importance of our environment offers an excellent start for future generations to act as good stewards – and also shows that conservation is cool.
How can you implement a change this year through your daily activities? Recycling is always a good start, but how about going deeper: try volunteering for a citizen science stream survey, participating in a river cleanup, or taking part in a school education event. Encouraging friends and family to do the same can produce a bigger impact than you might imagine. Responsibility takes on many different shapes and forms, but it all begins with the desire to give back.