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Career Advice from Yvette

2013 May 22

yvette-panda

I am always very happy when I come across an easy to use, pleasantly appealing website.  I never really think about all that goes into creating this website.  I sat down with Yvette Pina to learn more about her work for the EPA’s web pages.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am a Visual Information Specialist.  I work on the web team to create and maintain web pages.

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

I have a degree in Chemistry, with an emphasis on computational chemistry, which is chemistry combined with computer science.  I started at the EPA as a Field Chemist Intern.  I always had a knack for computers, so after my internship I applied to be a Computer Technician.

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day I check the news and events page to make sure everything is up-to-date.  Region 5 has a web support email which we manage as best as we can.  We handle cases of high priority first and then respond to requests as they come in.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is when people are satisfied with their web pages.  It is great to know people are content and like the way the web pages look.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

None what so ever.  I didn’t even know what the EPA was!  I applied with a job through the Department of Justice and they connected me with the EPA.  However, since coming to the EPA my interest has grown and I have learned so much.  It’s hard not to.

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

I took lots of computer programming classes.  I have always had an interest and knack for computers, even in high school when computers were new.

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

Pursue your interests.  Figure out what motivates you.  What piques your curiosity?  Follow that!

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.

Yes, you!

2013 May 20

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I am constantly amazed at the wealth of information we have at our fingertips today. The internet makes research as simple as clicking. It’s not like in my childhood when you immediately went to the World Book Encyclopedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica to do research for a school project. If you needed additional information, you went to the local library. Our resources were miniscule compared to the seemingly unlimited sources we have today. Today you can even contact experts via email and read about their research.

With all this information, it seems like we should be able to solve many of our problems in a snap. Say there’s an environmental problem that concerns you. Without leaving your home or library you can access the U.S. Geological Survey map for that area, aerial photos, zoning information, plant lists, property owners, businesses, and environmental data like water and air quality and whether there are any Superfund sites nearby. The wonderful thing is that you don’t need to have a Ph.D. or be a top level scientist working for a big company to help solve problems. You can be you. You can make a difference in your local community! And, you may be able to help solve a national problem.

Many times problem solvers are people who put the pieces of the puzzle together in a new way. They apply new approaches. They see things others don’t. They make new connections. So be creative! You can make a difference. You are our future.

Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created. Nancy is currently the Web Content Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region.

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.

Innovation and Environmental Science

2013 May 16

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Recently, there have been a lot of talk on innovation, and how it is so important for our nation’s future. So, what is innovation? Innovation is making a product more practical and actually “bringing it to the market”.  In the past when people made products, they did not think about its environmental impact and only focused on making profit. An example is plastics. It’s quite disturbing to me that people did not think about the raw materials needed for making the product, and how to dispose of the product later. I knew right then that innovation and environmental sustainability should not be separated and sustainability must be considered right from the beginning of designing a product. We have a lot of rethinking and redesigning work to do, and the fastest way to get there is by adopting biomimicry: the new method of innovation that shows how we could create products by learning from nature.

Over the years, there has been a lot of exposure to adopt environmental sustainability through many programs, incentives, regulations, and making data openly available to the public. Did you know that 10 times more cars have appeared on the road since 1970, but the amount of pollution has reduced because of stricter regulations resulting in better car models? This clearly shows that we can certainly make new products and not hurt our environment.

There are many new products and solutions coming out now by using the method as shown in biomimicry, which clearly explains how to observe nature and learn the “blueprint” from nature, and apply those similar forms, processes, and systems to solve our most challenging technological problems that we are facing today.

We have already seen the consequences of our previous path, and our manufacturing methods. Since manufacturers were more focused on short term benefits, we are now dealing with pollution and challenges with our waste. We need to think long term, and embrace sustainability.

It is quite comforting to know that many top companies are refocusing and are showing commitment towards environmental sustainability, so as students we can feel confident that learning environment science would help us later in our future. We need to take advantage of the opportunities and resources provided by our schools, like field trips to local conservation facilities.

Remember, environmental etiquette is the new norm for innovation.  Environment science benefits you, our humanity, and our planet! Let’s keep learning from nature!

Pavan is 13 years old, founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc., founder of Green Kids Conference, Official Biomimicry Youth Speaker, and an International reporter for Primary Perspectives radio Show. (http://greenkidsnow.org)

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.

Celebrate Endangered Species Day

2013 May 14

Endangered Species Day

Have you ever had the chance to visit a national park or a zoo?  Think about what it would be like if you couldn’t visit these places because there were no more animals and plants or if you no longer had the opportunity to see the grizzly bear, pacific salmon, sea otters, and other endangered species because they didn’t exist anymore.  

When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to travel to different areas of the country on family vacations. We went to places like Yosemite National Park in California, the Bronx Zoo (which was a few hours from my hometown in upstate New York), Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and many more, learning more about different animals and plants.  As an adult, I learned about the Endangered Species Act which protects the plant and animal species that are at risk of becoming extinct.  Because of this Act, we are given the opportunity to experience the rich variety of native species that define our nation.  I recently learned that there is a special day, May 17th that is designated to celebrating endangered species.

Visit the Endangered Species Day website to learn about what you can do to celebrate on May 17th.  You can find educational resources and learn about endangered species near you. You can even find ways to help protect endangered species by doing small things in your neighborhood like planting native vegetation to provide habitat for wildlife, discuss the importance of biodiversity and species preservation with your friends and participate in an Endangered Species Day Event. 

 

Shelby Egan 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 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.