What is your current job and what does it entail?
I am the site manager for three protected coastal reserves under the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve Program. My job consists of natural resources management, research and public outreach. The greatest challenge is working with visitors and neighbors to ensure that they respect the resources. No matter what I do there is always an educational element.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
What do like most about your career?
I always loved wetlands and coastal ecosystems. During college I worked at Sea Camp in the Florida Keys and after college I worked as a naturalist on Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. In both cases, I was an educator and loved teaching people about the coastal resources. The idea of both being outside and working with people was what moved me to continue on this career path.
I love learning. This is a career where you will always be learning new science and new technology. You will also be challenged to do things that you never even dreamed of while in school. For example, my concentration of study was in wetlands and water quality yet in my current job I manage more than 2,000 acres of maritime forest.
What do you like least about your career?
Many environmental programs within state government are not well funded. This means that projects move slowly as funding is sought through grants or is approved through whatever process the agency has set up.
What do you do to relax?
I used to hike a lot to relax but since I manage most of the good hiking lands in this area, I usually hike for work purposes now.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field?
I don't have famous heroes or heroines. The people I respect are those who love their work and know their craft (or science) so well that it becomes a part of their identity. For example, I heard a fisherman say, "this is who I am and this is what I do."
In this field, you most likely will need a science degree. Even if you end up doing something a little different in the field, science degrees are a typical job requirement. The best thing you can do is volunteer. Even if an organization does not formally invite volunteers, most can use the help. I take people out in the field with me all the time.
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
I believe they are increasing in the field of coastal resources management and watershed management. Coastal opportunities are increasing because the population is growing so fast on the coast and the resources are being heavily impacted. Watershed management is also a big field because everyone needs clean water and development is altering nature's ability to absorb and filter water. This impacts water dependent ecosystems (which is why many of us get involved) but it also impacts the availability of clean water for humans (which is why there is a lot of money in this field).
What will you be doing 10 years from today?
I hope to be hiking and boating as part of my workday.
Salary:$25,000 - $40,000