Skip to content

Career Advice from Steven

2013 June 20

steven

Have you ever had on the job training?  I once was part of a 9 month on the job training program and never really thought about the materials that were being used.  It is people like Steven Dean who make this training possible.  I sat down with Steven the other day to learn more about his job at the EPA.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am an Instructional Systems Specialist.  Essentially I am a curriculum developer.  I take content and apply instructional design elements. 

Do you have prior work experiences that lead you to the EPA?

I was an Instructional Systems Specialist in Corporate America and for the Department of Defense before coming to EPA.

What is a typical day like for you?

Really varies.  A typical day starts by looking at where we are at in various curriculums and making sure we have gathered all the necessary information to support the learning objectives that need to be developed.  We also have to make sure we have correct subject matter experts in place, along with the right resources, to develop objects to design accurate programs.

What is the best part of your job?

I love the people.  People here are engaged and go out of their way to help.  If they can’t find what you need, they will get you in touch with someone who can.  Everyone at EPA works together to ensure EPA’s mission is accomplished.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

I did.  I grew up in West Virginia and my backyard was mountains and beautiful.  I would camp and hike on the weekends.  I would also see the effects of mountain top coal removal and was not a fan.  In addition, while in the military, working with machinery, I was conscientious and wanted to ensure that if spills happened proper clean up followed.   

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

I have my degree in Workforce Education Development and use all of the classes from my training.  Some of these classes include: labor linkages, skills management, adult learning and adult psychology.  I also use English and writing skills.  My education is exactly what I do.

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

When you are in grade school and high school and think that math and science are not cool, you are wrong!  If you know math and science you can hold great power as an adult.  We need more S.T.E.M. training at the high school and college level, to ensure new knowledge.  Even if it is hard, stick with it!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Creating a Haven for the Creatures of the Florida Keys

2013 June 18

 

Taken by: John D. Ivanko/ecopreneuring.biz

Taken by: John D. Ivanko/ecopreneuring.biz

As my family drove our rental car along the unfamiliar Florida highways, I looked out the window. When we arrived where we staying, I got out of the car.  I stood still and the animals popped out. It revealed to me that you have to slow down to truly see nature at it’s fullest. You see more of nature in the middle of a hiking trail, standing still, than driving by.  What really struck me when I got out of the car was the sheer diversity of the plants and animals surrounding me. In the marina behind our rental house, there were pelicans, cormorants, anoles and so much more. It was not only the diversity of animals but also the diversity of plants that amazed me. I saw everything from coconut trees to mangroves (and in the rental next to us they even had a cactus).  Filled with this wonder of the nature surrounding me, I slept that night with my dreams filled with amazing plants and animals. The next morning my parents woke me up and we went out to an island. As we sped our boat out to the island, I looked in the water and I saw nothing. As I looked at the island from a distance, I saw no living animals. But as soon as I got off our boat and slowed down, it was like my vision had changed.  There were pelicans in the mangroves and anoles climbing around and little Sergeant Major fish swimming around the shallows of our island.  I learned from my trip to Florida that to enjoy something to its fullest, you have to slow down.  Just like eating chocolate bars, you slow down to get the deep flavors.

 

Unfortunately, some animals in this amazing ecosystem have problems:

• Turtles

The turtles have problems because a large part of a turtle’s diet is jelly fish. A turtle can very easily mistake a plastic bag for a jelly fish and eat the bag and then have stomach problems and possibly die.

• Cormorants

Cormorants are a small, one-and-a-half-foot tall bird (only slightly larger that a duck) . It waddles along road in search of food.  A hungry cormorant is a determined one. If it spots a fish in a pond across the road, the cormorant will waddle across the road only to be hit by a car.  Since cormorants are so short, drivers can’t see them and accidentally hit them.  I learned a lot about what I know about cormorants from Kelly Grinter, founder of the Marathon Wild Bird Center.

• Gulls

Gulls are a nuisance to fisherman because they eat the bait off of their fishing poles. Some fishermen get mad and throw rocks at the gulls. The stone could cause serious damage. Gulls also swallow hooks and fishing line from fishing poles when they steal the fish.

But there are people and organizations out there that are working to help these poor injured animals.  The Marathon Turtle Hospital is located on Marathon Key in Florida.  They work to help turtles that have been injured in the wild.  They have an operating room, a physical therapy room and even a lab. They save over a hundred turtles every year. Not content with just saving turtles, they also give lots of educational programs to help people understand how to protect turtles.

It’s not just turtles that people are working to help. The Marathon Wild Bird Center is working to help heal injured birds. Kelly Grinter and her volunteer staff are constantly working to help get these injured birds back into the wild.

But you can also help make life a safer place for these animals!  Just doing simple things like picking up trash and using reusable water bottles can save an amazing animal’s life.  If you are a fisherman, and you have broken fishing line, be sure to dispose of the line properly so it does not end up in the water.

If we all work together we can create a safe haven for the amazing creatures of the Florida Keys and animals everywhere!

Liam is eleven years old and lives in Wisconsin. He likes to read books and go on adventures with his friends. He also likes to have fun with his family. Liam enjoys exploring nature, writing about it and, most of all, helping protect it.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Career Advice from Bruce

2013 June 13

bruce

Many times when you start a new job or project, you develop new interests you never knew you had, based on that work.  In the course of doing these career interviews, I have come to realize that this has happened to many EPA employees.  Bruce Sypniewski is no exception to this.  I sat down with Bruce to hear about the variety of experiences that lead him to where he is today. 

 

What is your position at the EPA?

I am the Deputy Division Director for the Air and Radiation Division.  My position is internally focused.  I make sure the division has the resources it needs to perform and achieve goals.  I address human resource and funding issues and when needed step in for the Division Director when he is unavailable. 

Do you have prior work experiences that lead you to the EPA?

After graduate school I worked for the Lake County Health Department assessing closed and covered landfills and their impact on groundwater.  This led me to a consulting job at Ecology & Environment.  Here I did assessments of abandoned hazardous waste sites for the Superfund Program. I got to see a lot of environmental issues and pollution and wanted to get involved in regulation, which led me to the EPA.  I have had a number of positions here including Permit Writer, Remedial Project Manager, Supervisor and Program Manager, along with many different temporary assignments.

What is a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day.  I get pulled into all kinds of meetings with Senior Managers and staff on topics ranging from the budget to environmental issues.  My job is to distill information and make it presentable and understandable to the common person.  I help boil down all the information to applied science – so that the research and data can be applied to real world scenarios. 

What is the best part of your job?

There are a lot of best parts!  I love tackling problems that have a huge impact on public health and the environment.  Having a hand in that whole range of environmental problems is great, when results are seen.  There is a long term impact in this work.  Ideas become realities!

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

Yes, through my father.  My father was a tradesman and spent most of his days in a shop or factory setting so his ideal downtime was outside where nature was.  He taught my siblings and me that we can’t put a price on nature and that we are stewards of the land. 

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

I was a geology major and my job title for Lake County Health Department was Geologist.  I applied many of the classes I used in school to my previous jobs.

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

I will pass on my father’s advice; “When you leave a place, leave it cleaner than you found it”.  Think of yourself as a steward and not an owner of the land to do with it what you will.  You have a responsibility to the next generation to preserve and protect the environment.

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Staying Active with Asthma

2013 June 12

runner

In celebration of Asthma Awareness Month, I thought it would be fun to talk with a student who has asthma herself.  I interviewed Shannyn, an energetic 10 year-old who taught me all about what it is like to have asthma.  Shannyn let me know that she doesn’t let asthma get in the way of her active lifestyle and love of playing outdoors with her sisters and friends. At around age 3, Shannyn experienced her first asthma attack.  She explained to me that an asthma attack is an episode, accompanied by wheezing and coughing, which makes it very difficult to breathe.  Triggers, such as dust, chemicals and seasonal allergies, are things that can provoke the event of an asthma attack.  Lucky enough for this smart girl, she knows to avoid these triggers by staying away from heavy bathroom cleaners and helping her mom to clean the house of dust.  

Asthma doesn’t get in the way of Shannyn’s busy lifestyle.  Her love of running club, tumbling, soccer, kickball and playing in the pool are what keep Shannyn going.  By taking a daily preventative inhaler, she is able to participate in these sports and after school activities.  Shannyn is careful to also carry her rescue inhaler with her when going for runs, in case this physical activity makes her asthma worse.  She let me know that although her asthma can sometimes make it hard to keep up with others when running, that she has a few good friends that will run at a steady pace with her.  I am impressed with all the fun, physical activities this girl does!  When telling me about how she is teaching one of her friends how to do a kart wheel, I asked if she could teach me.  At age 22, I still haven’t picked up how to do a kart-wheel. 

It’s no secret that Shannyn doesn’t let her asthma define how she spends her time and what kinds of activities she does.  By knowing which triggers to avoid, taking the proper medication, and doing routine activities like running club to control her asthma, Shannyn is able to live a very spirited life.  She is looking forward to the summer, where she is planning to spend lots of time swimming in the pool with her two sisters.  She has even started to plan her next birthday party, where she and friends will have a spa day.  Shannyn let me know that asthma doesn’t get in the way of staying active and having fun with friends and family.  She is a role model to people of all ages who have asthma.

Shelby Egan was an extern in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5. She is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for protecting natural resources, cities she’s never been to and cooking any recipe by The Pioneer Woman. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.