I have been drawn to nature and the sciences since a young kid, so it only felt natural to earn my bachelor’s degree in Biology when I attended W&J (way back in 2009-2013!). Although it seemed like an easy choice in the beginning of what major I would choose, it was anything but easy to decide which of the countless avenues to pursue within the field of biology! I had so many interests—ecology, botany, chemistry, and restoration, just to name a few. And furthermore, would I pursue a career in research, academia, government, or consulting?? Being a naturally indecisive person, it was daunting to think about these major life decisions. I was fortunate that during my time at W&J, I was accepted into two National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) summer internships: one at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 and another at the University of Kentucky. These were such invaluable experiences to have to truly see and learn about a career in research. I even took a 180-degree redirection at one point and toyed around with the idea of physical therapy for a bit too. But after some shadowing experiences, I realized that it wasn’t the path for me, and it was a helpful reality check that I was straying my career path away from my long-standing interests and joys in life. But this taught me that it is just as important and meaningful to experience what you don’t want to do, especially during your time in college before diving in afterwards!
As I was trying to find which direction I wanted to take myself after college by searching through potential career paths, I stumbled upon landscape architecture. It seemed to embody the liberal art spirit, bringing together science and art, which piqued my interest. I decided I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture after graduation, and I was accepted into Temple University’s School of Environmental Design. I was drawn to this program specifically for their focus in ecological restoration. Here, I pursued my passions and learned how to design with nature, restore degraded landscapes, and connect people with the natural world.
My first job after graduating from Temple University was at the Philadelphia Water Department. Here, I worked as a planner, analyzing optimal locations throughout the city for green stormwater infrastructure such as rain gardens, bump-outs, and tree trenches. I currently work as a Watershed Planner at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in the PA Office in Harrisburg, PA (although these days you can find me at my home office in Williamsport, PA). The mission of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is to “Save the Bay” and its rivers and streams through restoration, science, education, and policy. My primary role and niche at CBF is developing Section 319 Watershed Management Plans for impaired waterways (i.e. polluted waterways that don’t meet water quality standards). The goal of these plans is to create a vigorous yet tangible path towards pollution reduction and attainment of water quality standards. Our approach to these plans include hydrological modeling to estimate nutrient and sediment pollutant loading. In addition to hydrological modeling, we also strive to make these collaborative, community-led plans by bringing together a number of different stakeholders including county conservation districts, local watershed and conservation groups, municipalities, academic institutions, government agencies, and watershed landowners. It’s a rewarding job where I get to spend my time doing a variety of activities including scientific analysis, stakeholder engagement, water quality monitoring, and even graphic design. I feel very lucky to be doing what I do every day, and I have W&J to thank for that!