Why did you choose to major in Environmental Studies?
Back when I was looking at colleges during high school, I didn't really have a great idea as to what I wanted to study. I thought I wanted to work in a job where I could be outdoors. When I was checking out Saint John's on the internet, I came across the Environmental Studies webpage. The Environmental Studies Department looked interesting, and I thought the program would give me a chance to work in an important and growing field. Honestly, there were times when I considered changing majors, but I stuck with it and ended up finding a job that I enjoy.
What was the most important aspect of the Environmental Studies coursework/curriculum?
I really enjoyed the variety of my coursework, ranging from geology to economics to environmental ethics. While some of my courses featured similar topics and similar objectives, the variety in my other coursework helped me learn how to solve complex problems and formulate and share my own ideas.
Briefly describe your internship experience while at CSB/SJU.
For my internship, I volunteered as an Earth Team Volunteer/Intern at the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Waite Park. As an Earth Team Volunteer, I was able to accompany SWCD and NRCS staff members on some of their site visits and participate in educational programs at local schools and other events. I was also able to use what I learned in ArcGIS to assist in a conservation planning project for one of the local watersheds.
What did you do immediately after graduation?
Two days after graduation, I went to work for Minnesota Native Landscapes, an ecological restoration and landscaping company based out of Otsego, MN. I worked at the production facility, growing native grasses, plants, shrubs, and trees for company restoration projects or for sale to landowners. I also got to work on land management projects such as controlled burns and planting projects.
If it differs now, what are you currently doing?
As of January 2014, I started a position with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. I am an Environmental Specialist in the MPCA Feedlot Program. Some of our main responsibilities in the Feedlot Program are to review permit applications for feedlot construction and expansion, and to make sure that farms and feedlots are complying with the State's water quality laws. It can be difficult work at times, but it is rewarding and encouraging to see some of the efforts that are being made in animal agriculture and environmental compliance.
Do you have any advice for current CSB/SJU students?
Searching for jobs can be intimidating and challenging. When you start your job search, remember to be patient, be persistent, and be positive. You don't have to take the first opportunity that presents itself if it isn't right for you. Stay active in your job search, and don't limit yourself! A great opportunity could come from an unexpected source.