I studied Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in climate and land use change and a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This seemed to be the perfect combination of where natural sciences and computer technology overlap. In my overall career trajectory this combination proved to be a great choice!
Early in my college career I spent summers volunteering with the Service with the Chesapeake Bay Field Office in my home town of Annapolis, Maryland. I had an opportunity to explore the Service's different programs, get out into the field, and meet many great people. I had a chance to survey Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, endangered bog turtles and least turns, and tend a butterfly garden. My GIS skills later landed me a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) internship, which really got my foot in the door.
During the summer months I had an opportunity to work with Fish & Wildlife Field Biologists on Poplar Island. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked with the Service to restore natural island habitats in the Chesapeake Bay that were lost due decreased sedimentation from armoring the bay's miles of shorlines. Dredge material from shipping channels and the Baltimore harbor were brought to the center of the Bay to re-create this major nesting area for waterfowl, shorebirds, and a host of endangered species.
My first job upon graduating from the University of Maryland was to join the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project. Marshes throughout the Delmarva peninsula were being lost at an alarming rate due to the explosion of the local nutria (an aquatic rodent) population. These critters eat the roots of marsh vegetation causing the destruction of thousands of acres of tidal wetlands. Congress appropriated funds to eradicate nutria species from the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which formed the basis of my first assignment as a GIS analyst.
When my Internship with the Service finally ended I was offered a position in the Southeast Regional Office as a GIS analyst. I worked with the Ecological Services program creating databases to track and analyze data relating to At Risk Species, and Gulf of Mexico Restoration. I grew particularly interested in automating analyses by creating models and writing GIS scripts in Python.
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Geographic Information Systems and Technology at N.C. State University. I've been taking online courses for the last several years focusing on integration of geographic analyses and web technologies.
Early in 2015 I defected from Ecological Services to External Affairs as the Regional Web Developer where I work along side our public affairs specialists. This new position exposes me to the tough issues that face all of the different programs within the Service. My main focus is a complete overhaul of our web presense rewriting our website from scratch with industry best practices to better engage the public.