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Career Advice from Carolyn

2013 May 9

I have been amazed at all the different careers available at the EPA, and I have barely touched the surface!  I recently sat down with Carolyn Bury who is a Project Manager in a program I had never even heard of at the EPA.  It is great to know there are so many positions for all types of people who are interested in protecting the environment.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am an Environmental Scientist.   My role is Project Manager in the Resource Conservation Recovery Act Corrective Action program which is an environmental remediation program.  I oversee the cleanup of hazardous wastes at the facilities which are under our jurisdiction.

Do you have prior work experience that has helped you here?

I have worked in three different programs at the EPA.  Everything I have done at the EPA has helped with my current position.  In addition, before the EPA, I worked as a forester for the US Forest Service, where I did environmental assessment work, vegetation surveys, timber sales and outreach.  I spent a lot of time in the field which I loved. 

What is a typical day like for you?

On a typical day I am reading, writing, and talking on the phone.  I review technical documents like sampling and analysis work plans for soil, water, sediment, etc, environmental data from the sampling events, and proposed remedies.  In our program we do a lot of negotiations with companies regarding how the environmental investigations are conducted, how data is interpreted, and what the significance of the data is in terms of risk to people and ecological receptors like wildlife and plants.

What is the best part of your job?

I am never bored!  That is my main criterion for a job.  There is always something new and different to do, with no lag time.  There is a lot of work, but it’s all interesting work.  I am currently working on six sites and each has its own set of circumstances and personality.  In addition, I like my coworkers a lot and the environment of the EPA.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

Yes, I did.  Back in high school I helped start one of the first recycling programs and was involved in a small environmental club.  I was caught up in the 70’s save the earth movement.    However, I did not have much guidance on what to do in college, so I did not take environmental courses until I met a forestry major in college.

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

I majored in Forest Ecology with a Spanish minor.  I took many courses that help me on the job today.  These include watershed management, soil science, GIS, hydrogeology, chemistry, and technical writing.  In addition, all of the ecology courses have helped me as well.

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

I advise anyone to pursue what they are really interested in.  It is a misconception that you need a specific degree to get a certain job.  You never know what an employer is really looking for so it would be a mistake to assume that you have to major in a field you don’t really like to get your dream job (usually)  Get a good education and study what you are passionate about!

 

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.

Asthma Awareness Month

2013 May 7

Asthma Awareness Month banner

Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to raise awareness about asthma!  Asthma is a serious, sometimes life threatening chronic respiratory disease that affects the lives of almost 25 million Americans, including an estimated 7 million kids.  The U.S. EPA is celebrating Asthma Awareness Month by spreading the word about how serious asthma can be and how important it is to manage environmental asthma triggers like secondhand smoke, dust mites, pet dander, mold and many others.  Please join the EPA in raising awareness of this condition by teaching others what asthma is and how the environment can affect people with asthma.

Although I have never suffered from asthma, I understand how it can affect someone’s day to day activities.  My childhood best friend, Katherine, suffers from asthma. My pet cats and dog would make it difficult for her to breathe when she would come over to play. With her inhaler in tow, Katherine was always aware of how pets could affect a play date with friends.

The EPA makes it easy for students to learn how to manage the environmental triggers of asthma.  You and a parent or guardian can visit http://www.epa.gov/asthma/ to learn more about asthma triggers and Asthma Awareness Month.  What is even cooler are all of the interesting materials the EPA offers to raise awareness about asthma.  Tell your parent or teacher they can visit the EPA’s website to get a free copy of Clearing the Air of Asthma Triggers.  You and your friends can also read Why is Coco Orange? to learn about asthma and air quality. During Asthma Awareness Month this May, help spread the word about asthma!

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.

Career Advice from Marco

2013 May 2

As an intern for the EPA, I have worked on the reviewing end of grants.  I had no idea how much work went into the grants process, and I have only touched the surface!  I wanted to learn more about the grants process, so I sat down with Marco Santos, Senior Grants Management Specialist for the EPA.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am a Senior Grants Management Specialist.  Grants award money to different State agencies, nonprofits, universities, and tribes, to carry out environmental priorities.  I manage all these types of grants.

Do you have prior work experience that has helped you here?

I had an internship after college working for the D.C. city government with administrating art grants.  I got to see the entire process of how a government agency gives out money to fund projects.  Coming from a political science major, I have a strong policy background, which helps on the job.

What is a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day at the EPA, and it depends on where we are in the fiscal year.  There is a lot of multi tasking.  I work with all of the EPA divisions to make sure we secure what we need to fund grants.  I work with grantees themselves to answer inquiries they may have.  I review proposals, process paper work, draft agreement, clarify administrative requirements, and track money to make sure it is being spent correctly.

What is the best part of your job?

It is rewarding to know I had a small part in contributing to the agency’s goals and missions.  Programs wouldn’t be able to do the work they are supposed to do without grant funds.  I feel a sense of importance because we implement the mission and safeguard the use of taxpayers’ dollars.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

Yes.  In high school I was very politically savvy.  I was always interested in recycling and was very aware of the environment and was mindful to not be wasteful.  After college there was a job opening at the EPA which combined my interest and educational background. 

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

I have a political science degree.  I took classes on policy and environmental issues in addition to writing and communication classes.  Policy provides a foundation for what I do.  I need to know the laws.

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

It is important to be aware of what is going on politically.  Keep up with the news and latest developments in technology. Think outside the box.  Try to expand your experiences and education and be open to new things.  Practice what you preach.  Environmental stewardship starts at home.  Good writing and communication skills are important regardless of where you end up!

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.

Poster Contest Deadline is approaching!

2013 April 30

I have talked with lots of students who are excited to submit their posters into the EPA’s Asthma Awareness Poster Contest.  Don’t miss out on this creative and fun learning opportunity!  Enter your poster into the Asthma Awareness Poster Contest by Friday May 10, 2013.  Students in grades 3-8 from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are invited to enter.  Possible poster topics can include good asthma control and management, avoiding asthma triggers and many others.

Three winners will be chosen from two age groups (3rd-5th grade and 6th-8th grade).  1st place winners will receive recognition on EPA websites, an award certificate and a prize pack.  2nd place winners will receive recognition on EPA websites, an award certificate and a Planet Earth DVD and 3rd place winners will receive recognition on EPA websites.  Please visit the Asthma Poster Contest’s website to learn how to enter.  Don’t forget to highlight your artistic talent and submit a poster by Friday May 10, 2013!

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.