From Bike Path to Career Path – Passing Through EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities

By Jennifer Woods

Growing up in the small university and bike- friendly town of Davis, California, I had the joy of biking or walking to school, sports practice and work almost every day — from my first day of kindergarten until I graduated from high school. To be honest, my mom and dad didn’t give me an option. Despite my attempts at begging for a ride some mornings, my mom always told me that we lived in a safe town with plenty of parks, trails, sidewalks and schools close by, so there was no reason to drive. Over time, my complaints ceased and I became accustomed to riding my bike everywhere. Then, when I went off to college, eager to use my bike, I was surprised to find that my new home for the next four years wasn’t exactly bike-friendly… I had to use the car much more than I would have liked.

During my second year of college, I took a planning class and learned about this thing called “Smart Growth.” It all made so much sense to me….and I’ve been hooked ever since. At school I took as many sustainable planning classes as possible, and interned during the summers at an organization in California that works to promote sustainable communities.

As I finish up my time in school, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to intern here at EPA in the Office of Sustainable Communities. It has been an amazingly fun, interesting and rewarding experience being surrounded by knowledgeable people, all working hard to help create more sustainable communities across the country. My work experience at EPA helped me realize that this is the career for me. I want others to have the same opportunity to grow up in a community that encourages people to bike and walk to school safely, just like I did.

For now, I’m eager to head back to Davis, park my car and put my bike to use every day. I’ll also thank my mom and dad for instilling in me the habits that put me on the path to appreciating the livable and sustainable aspects of my community.

About the author: Jennifer Woods just completed her internship in EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities. She’ll soon be graduating from college with honors with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Urban Studies and Planning.

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