Katy Pfannenstein

Class of 2006


Wanting to be an outdoor and environmental educator, I pursued a degree in environmental studies to further my personal knowledge on the subject matter.  After graduating in 2006, I worked for Outward Bound, teaching people how to backpack, climb, and become stewards of the land.   I also worked for the Academy at SOAR, a high school for students with learning differences (mostly ADHD).  Through the wilderness, I was able to foster personal and academic growth in my students, while teaching science, math, English and history on backpacking and climbing trips.

In 2013, I participated in a number of  mountain science expeditions in Peru.  I loved being able to combine my mountain skills with data collection for important climate change research.  This led me to graduate school at Western Washington University, where I earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Freshwater Ecology 2016.

Since graduate school, I've been working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Leavenworth, Washington. I got my feet wet in the fish world as a temporary fisheries technician, where I assisted biologists with research and monitoring of hatchery fish. Just recently (August 2018), I accepted a full time permanent position with USFWS as a fish biologist in the Habitat Restoration Program. In my new position, I will be managing restoration projects, changing the world by increasing ecosystem services to aquatic systems and improving fish habitat and passage for salmon, trout and other native species. 

My advice for undergraduates:

Hold tight on to your dreams, know where you want to go, and make a plan on how to get there. Choose jobs, volunteer positions, and extra curricular activities that help move you forward in the direction of your dreams. Find friends, co-workers, and mentors who support your path. Know that there will be road blocks and set-backs in your path; don't let those discourage you, as it just adds to your personal story and builds character. Dreams are not achieved overnight and they may change over time. No matter what your dream is, make sure you have one, maintain forward momentum towards it, and hold tight for this wild ride called life.