Can you give a description of what you do and your organization?
I work for a local environmental planning company, Logan Simpson. Logan Simpson’s goal is simple: to help guide responsible change. For more than three decades, Logan Simpson has provided environmental consulting, cultural resources, community planning, and landscape architecture design services throughout the West.
As an Associate Environmental Planner, I wear many hats. Primarily my job is to help guide renewable projects through the land use permitting process. This involves collaborating with on-staff biologists, archeologists, and planners to review not only county permitting requirements, but potential environmental constraints, and community needs identified through public outreach. Projects may involve:
Environmental impact statements (EISs)
Environmental assessments (EAs)
Categorical exclusions (CE/CatEx/CX)
Third-party project management assistance
Third-party technical resource reviews
Maintaining the Administrative Record
Section 508 compliance
I also work with natural resource planning and management by gathering and analyzing data about how natural resources are used and the effects of that use. This information helps land managers make sound decisions about how to conserve the land and natural resources they manage, as well as how to mitigate the effects of unavoidable human-caused damage.
What led you to a natural resources education/career?
Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors camping, fishing, and hiking. I completed a 14-mile hike in the Rocky Mountains when I was only 7 years old (which is a big feat considering I’m originally from Nebraska!). In college, I was fortunate to be able to spend a semester in Australia where I took an outdoor education course and from that point on, nature has been my therapy and favorite pastime. They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, so I guided my education to create a career I love!
What are you up to now in your job? Any noteworthy projects to discuss? (or any recently completed etc.)?
I work on a lot of different types of projects! I find working on Resource Management Plans to be especially interesting. It is so fun to research areas unique to various parts of the county and then write about them (and then plan subsequent vacations to those areas!). I’m also working on developing a scenic inventory of a National Scenic Trail. However, most of my time recently has been spent on renewables development, such as solar. While I can’t discuss specific projects, it certainly is exciting to be involved in projects that are helping us to end our dependence on fossil fuels while stimulating economic growth for many rural communities. We’ve also begun doing some work on carbon sequestration projects which I’m really excited about as well.
Can you reflect on your time and experiences at CSU and how they benefited you?
I was a super non-traditional student, coming into CSU after graduating from undergrad at Creighton University nearly 20 years earlier, and with over 10 years experience in air quality permitting. While I wasn’t initially accepted into the MNRS program, upon the recommendation of an advisor at CSU (Sonya), I decided to take one class to dip my toe in and defer my application for admittance to a later semester. This was enormously helpful to help me gain confidence, as I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of going back to school. However, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The online structure of the MNRS program enabled me to juggle a full-time job, two kids, and Covid. It also prepared me exceptionally well for my current position at Logan Simpson. The writing and research were directly applicable to my current job and really helped me to jumpstart my “new” career.
What advice do you have for current students or recent grads?
Make connections with your peers and teachers! Many of your peers have already been in the natural resource field for a while and can educate you on types of jobs available that you didn’t even know existed. In addition, so much of getting a job after college is who you know as employers are looking not only for knowledge but a great personality fit as well.
Also, bring copies of your favorite projects to share during interviews to directly demonstrate your applied knowledge (which helps especially if you are terrible at interviewing like I am). And prepare for the interview! Don’t wing it. Research the company and come prepared not only to answer questions about your personal experiences but bring questions too.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take a chance!
Any recent professional awards or distinctions you may have received?
Not yet! I did get a 4.0 in grad school though. So, I’m pretty proud of that 😊