Over two decades ago, I spent a substantial part of my early life in my little village in southeast Nigeria greening my father’s compound. Fueled with passion for plants and the environment and no formal training in horticulture, agriculture, or botany, I turned our compound into a miniature botanical garden that was the talk of the town at that time. I had over 100 species of plants. Tropical, temperate, annuals, perennials, you name it, I had it. It was a blast and the most fascinating period of my life.

Fast forward two decades later I am pleasantly surprised to see how my passion for plants and the environment has come full circle several miles away from my village. In the global capital of Washington, DC, I am a leading a community-based revolution for the environment. The Family Tree Adoption Program (FTAP) that I conceptualized a few years ago has become the foundation for a County-wide program in my Prince George’s County, Maryland.

FTAP is a grassroots program that provides free native trees and shrubs to private homeowners in Prince George’s (PG) County, Maryland. FTAP is greening communities by increasing tree canopy, which, in turn, improves air and water quality, community aesthetics, and provides benefits for years to come.

I believe that the best employees are those who exhibit the greatest passion for what they do. In the absence of passion, knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) pale. It is easy to grow the KSA but it is difficult to sow or even grow passion, because you come to the table with passion. The absence of this burning fire of passion is what you see in doctors, lawyers, or other top professionals who make so much money but you can tell when you see them that they are not happy. Sounds familiar?

So, when next you see me, ask me about free trees! FTAP is truly the fruit of passion that led to innovation. Rather than pursuing your KSA, I recommend that you pursue your passion. So, what is your passion? Do you know?