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Travis Thompson

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, UT

Where do you work? How long have you worked there? What do you do?

I manage 3 offices with a total of 12 employees. We assist farmers and ranchers in addressing natural resource concerns on their operations.

How is your profession related to Environmental Science?

I need to know the relationship between soils, plants, and their ecosystems in order to help ranchers and farmers provide stewardship over the land. Environmental Science has helped me understand the policies and laws affecting farming and ranching activities.

What are the most rewarding aspects of managing your career?

I get to see projects from start to finish all throughout the year. I also get to work outside and meet with great people. I get to keep up on the latest technology and help disperse that information to others.

How has your BYU education benefited your career and would you recommend any specific course background for your field?

My BYU education serves as the hinges upon which my career swings. It taught me the basics of soils, plants, nutrient management, etc. I would recommend a course on State and Federal Laws affecting our environment (such as the Clean Water Act, etc.) Also, I would recommend a basic wildlife or ecology course.

What changes do you see or expect in your profession in the near future?

I see the future of conservation in the nation only getting bigger and more important. Our natural resources are becoming increasingly dependent upon us to conserve and preserve them for better and healthier lifestyles.

There is a common misconception of lumping environmental science with environmental activism. How can our department best address this perception problem with our students and employers?

Don’t call it Environmental Science; call it Watershed Planning or Natural Resource Science. Watershed planning accomplishes the same purpose, only it approaches Environmental Science at a broader level.

How can students best network within your profession in order to gain employment or internships? Does your company have internships that may be of interest to our students?

Contact their local USDA NRCS Service Center and speak with the District Conservationist.

Do you have any general advice for our students or our faculty with regard to your profession?

I thought BYU gave me a great education and background to jump start my career in Natural Resources. I definitely recommend the undergraduate mentoring program with Dr. Richard Terry. He helped me tremendously as an undergraduate.

Would you share a favorite memory of your BYU professors?

I would have to say that Dr. Terry’s field trips to Southern Utah were the best trips I had in college. He taught us so many things about everything. I still stay in contact with many students who went on that trip.

Environmental Science & Sustainability in the News
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ESS professor Zach Aanderud and his team of students use cutting-edge molecular methods to track COVID-19 in municipal wastewater.
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ESS undergraduate Natasha Griffin has presented at conferences in Europe, ridden in a helicopter and visited both the North and South Poles to figure out how humans are affecting the Earth.
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April 08, 2020 10:36 AM
ESS PhD student Sara Sayedi wanted to use science to improve policy in her home country of Iran, but politics limited her work in the public arena. Now at BYU, she is influencing policy at a global scale.
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BYU team investigates ecosystem resilience to wildfire, linking plants, streams, climate, and society
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Professor Sam St. Clair from the Environmental Science & Sustainability program takes the vitals of one of North America's keystone tree species.
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January 16, 2018 10:00 PM
ESS professor Ben Abbott presents a new tool to fight nutrient pollution. Streams can be “sensors” of ecosystem health, allowing both improved water quality and food production.

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Dance professor Keely Song and ESS professor Ben Abbott teamed up to promote BYU's free UTA passes to students, employees, and their families.
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While at BYU, Dr. Gary Booth taught a wide range of subjects. Students and faculty alike appreciated Booth and his impact on the college.
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July 23, 2020 09:56 AM
After reading 115 studies on COVID-19, ESS faculty and students published non-technical report on the effectiveness of masks at slowing the spread.
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June 27, 2013 10:00 PM
If Utah’s quaking aspen appear to be quaking more than usual this summer, the trees have reason to tremble, says a Brigham Young University biologist. In dappled forests across the West, aspen trees are battling deadly killers from heat stroke to bud-nipping predators to tree “heart attacks.”
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March 17, 2020 11:10 AM
ESS professor Ben Abbott co-authored a study in Nature on the permafrost climate feedback. Working with an international team, he found that abrupt permafrost collapse could double carbon release.
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June 10, 2019 10:00 PM
A new study in Nature Geoscience led by ESS professor and students found that the global water cycle is incorrect even in modern papers and textbooks. 85% of diagrams show no people, despite human domination of water at a global scale.
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February 03, 2019 10:00 PM
The solution to nutrient pollution could be right below out feet. Literally. New study reveals the active and dynamic world of groundwater microbes.
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By Carlee Reber
June 05, 2019 01:06 PM
Will we show up in the geologic record in millions of years? The Anthropocene suggests the answer is yes: collective human impact on the environment will leave a definitive mark in future bedrock.
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