Location: Lander, Wyoming, United States

I'm just a western boy living the good life and enjoying every minute of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Evolution of My Career

I love my job, a lot. Many people have commented that they would love to have my job and ask how I got to this point. Let's just say, it was not an easy road. Let's review, but first, let's take a look at what I do now. I am an Environmental Analyst. I work for the state of Wyoming in their environmental department, specifically the watershed program. Basically, I and my boss/coworker are charged with monitoring the streams in the western part of the state to determine what kind of condition they are in and if they are in need of restoration. We spend approximately June through October out in the field, analyzing approximately 30-40 stream sites during that time period. During a typical analysis, we collect water samples, collect aquatic bug samples, measure the discharge of the stream, determine the classification of the stream by measuring width, depth, floodplain area and gradient, perform an in-depth study of the surrounding habitat, and determine the quality of the fish habitat. This amounts to a lot of time being out in the great outdoors, many times in beautiful locations. It also means we get to camp and hike a lot. The months that we are inside, we study the results of our analyses and write up reports on the quality of the streams we assessed.

As an environmentalist and an avid outdoor lover, this is truly my dream job. But as I mentioned, it was not an easy road to get to this point. Let's start way back in college, when I was pursuing my degree in Zoology/Wildlife Management. I spent the summers working for a landscaping firm out in the scorching heat and humidity of St. Louis. It was heavy manual labor in extreme heat. However, I learned a lot from that job. (1) How to beautifully landscape a yard. (2) I am more of a cold weather person. And (3) I better keep my ass in college and get a degree so I don't wind up doing this for life.

The next step in my career came while I was attending graduate school at Southern Illinois U. in Edwardsville, Illinois. While going to school, I worked part time at my mom's retail kitchen store. Working there only proved the value of a college education. Working retail is something everyone should have to do, but only for a short while. I wouldn't wish a retail career on anyone.

After getting my master's degree in Environmental Science, I got my first "real" job with a civil engineering company out in Waldorf, Maryland. Hired as their Environmental Planner, I was tasked with helping get the necessary environmental permits for new construction projects. Although I learned a lot about development and business, I had to often compromise my principals to try and get new developments approved. I quickly realized that I was going the wrong way down the environmental path. Not to mention that I could barely afford to pay my rent in the expensive Washington D.C. suburb.

After working in Maryland for 8 months, I went out in search of greener pastures and found them in Springfield, Illinois. I was hired on at an environmental consulting company as an Environmental Specialist. I immediately began working on two large wetland projects related to expanding landfills. It was interesting work and more in line with my background. However, when the wetland projects began to dwindle down, I was refocused into project management and landfill construction work. Although this was also interesting, it was moving in another direction away from my main interests. I also began to put in long hours and stressful weeks, where a two day weekend often turned into a 1.5 day weekend that didn't give me enough time to wind down before cranking it back up. The work and stress started piling up to a point where I knew I had an important decision to make. Become a full-time workaholic or abandon ship.

Since I had left Wyoming approximately 6 years earlier to start grad school, I had missed it like no other. I missed the mountains, wide open spaces, my friends, and the simple, slow paced life. When the stress of my consulting job was at its peak, I decided to look back west, back to the state that I love. I filed a general application with the state of Wyoming, not knowing what environmental jobs were open or available. Then, a few months later, after coming home from another hot, dirty, tiring landfill monitoring trip, I saw the light blinking on my answering machine. I played the message three times before it sank in. An interview. With the state of Wyoming, Lander field office. Doing stream assessment work. I knew then and there that I would put forth my best interview and land that job. Two months later, I had the Uhaul packed and headed west towards Wyoming.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


Blogger Mags said...

I love happy endings like that. I also have a great admiration for outdoorsy types, because I am totally NOT.

April 26, 2005 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Olympuss said...

Global Environmental Issues - I found this page with some info about global warming. I thought you may like to check it out because it's in-keeping with the content on this site, which is very useful BTW. Maybe people will find this interesting. Anyway take a look, I found some good info there.

August 21, 2006 at 9:38 AM  

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