Career Advice from Lilly

Lilly-PictureMy sister and I didn’t always get along growing up, but we both always had a strong interest in protecting the environment.  Now we are both doing environmental work, but in different ways.  You may remember my interview with Nefertiti.  Turns out her sister, Lilly Simmons, works at the EPA as well.  I decided to sit down with Lilly and find out more about her role at the EPA.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am an Environmental Scientist in the Underground Injection Branch within the Water Division.  I work with the regulation of shallow and deep injection wells. I help protect drinking water.

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

I started at the EPA as an intern the summer before my senior year of college and have been here since.  During college I worked in my schools Admissions Office and have an appreciation for organized files, which is very helpful at the EPA.

What is a typical day like for you?

I start my day by checking my email and responding to any pressing matters.  I use excel to create spreadsheets for tests and tracking.  Some of my work involves technical review of permit files, mechanical integrity tests to make sure deep injection wells are not leaking, compliance assistance, and public notices. 

What is the best part of your job?

There are times when I almost forget about what I am doing at work because it is so specific, but then realize that I am helping to protect drinking water.  My work does have an impact.  This is my dream job, knowing I am doing my part to help the environment. 

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

Pretty much!  As a child I grew up in California when literally everyday was Earth Day.  Every day was about saving water, turning off lights, and planting trees.  I remember the first time I saw rain and I was actually frightened by it. 

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

Math classes are obviously helpful.  I also took two engineering classes, where we did a lot of work in spreadsheets.  The environmental policy class I took was helpful for understanding the context of what we do at the EPA.  I have my Masters in Public Administration, which has also helped contextual.  I can understand the budget, policy and planning of the Agency more. 

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

Learn everything you can about the environment.  Tell people that is what you want to do, and it will happen. 


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