What is your current job and what does it entail?
I am director of the New Hampshire Estuaries Project (www.nh.gov/nhep), which is part of the National Estuary Program established through the Clean Water Act. I oversee the implementation of a management plan to protect, restore and monitor the health of New Hampshire's estuarine systems. We fund projects and activities related to water quality improvements, land protection, shellfish resource enhancement, environmental monitoring and technical assistance to local communities. My job involves many administrative functions, including report writing, project development, budgeting, contract management and coordinating input from a number of partner organizations.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
What do like most about your career?
I have always been interested in environmental sciences and issues, and felt that by pursuing a career in environmental management I could make a difference. While I was in college I had the opportunity to work in Yellowstone National Park on resource management issues. It was a great experience and it solidified my interest in a career related to the protection and management of natural resources. In the last 10 years, I've developed an interest in water resources and land protection, and my current job is a good fit for those areas. Land use changes and development can have a huge impact on natural resources, especially our estuaries and coastal waters.
I enjoy those moments when projects come to fruition after what can be several years of effort, and I can see the environmental results from my work such as elimination of water pollution sources, protection of land from development, or completion of a habitat restoration project.
What do you like least about your career?
My job is typically a "desk job" and very administrative. There are times when I would rather be outdoors and more directly connected to the natural resources that my program aims to protect.
What do you do to relax?
Right now, my 10-month old puppy is keeping me busy during my free time (I don't know that I'd call it relaxing). I enjoy hiking, reading and gardening.
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field?
Environmental program managers need a variety of skills in addition to an understanding of natural resources and technical skills. Administrative, financial and communications skills are needed, so pursuing a variety of courses can be helpful. I would also suggest that students who might be interested in an environmental or natural resource career consider volunteering with a local group to gain some first-hand experience. Land trusts, watershed groups and volunteer monitoring organizations often can use assistance and can provide training and exposure to fieldwork, which can help a student better define his or her interests. An organization that helps place high school and college students in internship positions with natural resource management organizations is the Student Conservation Association (www.sca-inc.org).
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
The need for programs that protect coastal waters and estuaries is increasing; however, I'd guess that career opportunities similar to mine are neither increasing nor decreasing in number. State and federally funded programs are always subject to budget cuts and will vary somewhat from year to year as a result, but in general I think the numbers of state and federal environmental programs (and program manager/director positions) will remain relatively stable.
What will you be doing 10 years from today?
That's a good question and I'm not sure of the answer. I imagine I'll probably be working in a capacity similar to what I'm doing now. As development increases along our coasts, the need to protect and restore the natural ecosystem functions provided by our coastal and estuarine systems will continue, and new challenges and opportunities in this field should keep it interesting.
Salary: $40,000 - $60,000