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.