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Frequently Asked Questions

No, only Title I schools in the Austin Independent School District are eligible.

We have developed a watershed viewer, so it is easy to find out what watershed you live in and to find out its Environmental Integrity  Index score.

AISD 5th grade teachers that have been trained and attended a week of Earth Camp led by City staff may participate in Teacher-Led Earth Camp! To schedule contact Susan Wall

The four Earth Camp Field Guides are available below for you to download. They require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing. If you are scheduled for Teacher-Led Earth Camp, an Assistant will bring the field trip materials. If you would like to purchase materials, reference the "Materials" PDF file.

Field Trip Guide Contents * required when leading Teacher-Led Earth Camp

Field Trip Guide TEKS

Edwards Aquifer/Barton Springs

Barton Springs

Scavenger Hunt *only print the Lesson for the Park you will visit

All Parks Scavenger Hunt Lesson

Green Classroom

Macroinvertebrate Activities

 

Engineers

Katina Bohrer

Katina Bohrer

Engineer

 

College Degree:

  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, University of Colorado

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was 8, I originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but when I realized I’d have to euthanize animals, I decided I should choose a different profession; by the time I had finally decided I wasn’t going to be a veterinarian, I had already convinced myself I had to do well in math and science classes.  My high school counselor had recommended applying for engineering school because it’s much easier to drop engineering than it is to get into it after you’ve already started college.  Lest you think it was easy, it wasn’t – I almost dropped out of engineering after the first semester to become a history teacher.  My history teacher from high school convinced me I should stay in math and sciences, and here I am today, a Civil Engineer.

What did you study?

ABET accredited engineering schools will provide you with a very precise list of which classes you need to take and when you take them in order to get your degree within 4 years. Most of these classes are science, engineering, math, or technology related.  Since I grew up in Colorado and went to school there, I mostly took groundwater related classes, but when I moved to Texas and got hired by the City of Austin, I switched to surface water and what happens when there’s too much of it (flooding).  In college, I was more interested in the environmental engineering side of things, but could not understand the chemistry needed for the classes. Despite this, I was involved with the C.U. Boulder Biodiesel club, where we converted used fry oil to diesel to use in the campus busses.

How did you find out about being an Engineer with the City of Austin?

My boyfriend at the time (now husband) had graduated from college before me and got a job working with National Instruments in north Austin (it took me 4.5 years to graduate due to having to retake calculus and chemistry in college – like I said, the first semester of college was not easy).  I had found a website which listed all the available job postings in Texas, and I narrowed it down to Austin and went from there.  I originally applied for the Flood Early Warning System group, but did not get the job; based on my interview, however, I was hired as a temporary employee and eventually got a permanent position with the Floodplain Office.

What other jobs have you had?

Since I started working with the City of Austin immediately after college, I have not had any other jobs; although I did intern with a small engineering firm in Colorado which included doing a hiking/camping/4-wheeling trip in the Glenwood Springs area collecting stream flow data, changing batteries on gages, and performing analysis of impacts beaver dams have on stream flow.  In high school and college, I primarily did customer service jobs (Target and the movie theater) which actually do come in handy for my job now.

What job would you like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

I would love to work at a garden center since I love learning about plants and best practices to take care of them.  If I went back to college, I’d get a degree in forestry or take classes to become an arborist or botanist.

Have another question?  Send Katina Bohrer an email

 

Lindsay Olinde

Lindsay Olinde

Engineer

 

College Degree:

  • Civil Engineering major
  • Environmental Engineering minor

What did you want to be when you grew up?

First, Smurfette. Then, a veterinarian. Then, a biologist that tracked parrots in a rainforest. Then, a trail designer for parks.

What did you study?

In college: civil engineering, environmental engineering, geosciences, and environmental science- particular focus on classes related to physics and water. Physics and math became more exciting when my classes became more tangible with real-world problems.

What other jobs have you had?

Demolition crew for home renovation company, receptionist for a biology department, researcher of water quality in mountain lakes for salmon conservation, crewmember on trails maintenance in Australia, student worker for building hurricane wind tunnel for experiments, student worker for experiments treating sewage in remote bayou communities, and a consultant for an environmental firm.

What have you learned on the job?

“Soft” skills are underrated and rarely taught in school. Learning how to be flexible, a strong listener, and constructive on teams are foundations for success.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

It’s not just people that are naturally good at math and science that make good scientists and engineers. I wanted a job that could be outside and hands-on and math and science seemed to offer lots of options for those two goals. If you like the general idea of working in the applied science and engineering fields, but still struggle with math, keep at it. Find tutors and don’t hesitate to keep going back to teachers for help. My success in engineering and science classes was mostly because I was stubborn and persistent with the assignments.

Have another question? Email: Lindsay Olinde

Sergio Mendoza

Sergio Mendoza

Professional Civil Engineer

Certified Floodplain Manager

College Degree:

  • Bachelor of Science Engineering, California State University, Northridge

What did you want to be when you grew up?

As a kid, I wanted to be a fireman because I wanted to rescue people and properties.  In those days, there were height restrictions and I did not meet the minimum height requirement.  I discovered Civil Engineering and soon realized that I can help protect people and properties by designing and constructing a system of pipes that can prevent flooding.

What did you study?

I studied math, from algebra to calculus.  Also, I studied physics, where I learned about matter and its motion and how it behaves in space and time.  Plus chemistry, where I got to experiment with chemicals in a lab.  I also studied how to build using concrete, steel and wood to construct buildings, bridges and other structures.

How did you find out about being a Civil Engineer?

I attended a career fair in high school.  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had a display about renewable energy.  It fascinated me because I wanted to do something that would help find new energy sources so I decided to study civil engineering. 

What job would you still like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

My second career would be an elementary school teacher to help shape and encourage young minds to be more than they think they can be.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

It is not a race.  Some people will be ahead of you, some people will be behind you and some people will be right alongside you.  The important thing will be to continue progressing; continue moving towards your goals.

Have another question? email: Sergio Mendoza

 

Hahn Thai

Hahn Thai

Engineer

College Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineer;
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Management

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to become a fairy (yes, I thought it was a job). In middle school, I realized that fairy was not a job and decided that I would become a teacher. In high school, I changed my mind again. This time, I wanted to become a flight attendance so I could travel around the world. When I was a new immigrant in the USA, my cousin told me that I should pick something easy because my English may not be good enough to study law or medical or engineering. I am now an engineer even though I still speak English with an accent. I always enjoyed studying math and science even though I was not the smartest student in those classes. Just believe in yourself and work hard. You can always train your brain to learn what you want it to learn.

How did you find out about being an engineer with the City?

After finishing my Bachelor of Business Administration, I wanted to find something more challenging to study. I always enjoyed math and science thus I naturally considered either medical or engineering field. Although I admire people who work in medical field, I know I cannot do it. I cannot handle needles and blood. Engineering is a logical choice for me. It is challenging to be a public servant, but I really enjoy being a part of an entity that protects the safety of the public.

What other jobs have you had?

As an immigrant in the USA, I have worked several jobs to support myself through college. When I was in Houston, I worked in several restaurants as a waitress. In Austin, I also worked as a waitress for a while. Then I was a cashier at an Asian supermarket. Then I was a teller at a bank. I worked as a library clerk for several years as well.

What job would you still like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

I would love to become an advocate for the environment and wild animals. I also want to work as a park ranger for National Parks system. I love hiking in our beautiful National Parks.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Don’t allow anyone to tell you what you can or can’t do. I made the mistake of letting my cousin make me believe that I was not good enough to study anything challenging. You do not have to be a genius to become a scientist or an engineer. If you believe in yourself and work hard, you will achieve what you want. Most importantly, always be kind to not only people but also any living things.

Have another question? Email: Hanh Thai

John Middletonf

John Middleton

Engineer

College Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

My job is really fun.  I’m an Engineer and work on protecting Austin citizens from flooding.  I use cool modeling tools and detailed maps to figure out how to prevent flooding.  And I go out in the field to look at flooding problems and meet people who need our help.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I grew up, I wanted to be an astronaut.  My sister, my best friend and I had a pact that we would go to Mars together.  We all loved math and science, and ended up with technical careers in engineering or computer science.  I’m not sure I will make it to Mars, but my curiosity in the world around us is as strong as ever.

How did you find out about being an Engineer?

I’ve always been drawn to the creeks in the Hill Country, and love hiking and swimming in them.  I got the idea to study hydrology watching Shoal Creek during a big storm.  Engineers and scientists at the City take care of all our creeks, and I knew I wanted to be part of that.

What other jobs have you had?

In high school and college, I worked framing houses.  I love building things, and that’s what led me into engineering.  My first “real” job was as an electrical engineer.  I designed digital circuit boards that look a lot like the motherboard inside your PC or Laptop.  My focus was on networking circuits and products – the thing that lets your computer communicate with the internet.  I loved designing things, building them, and making them work in the lab.  It’s a great feeling when people actually use the things you design!

What job would you still like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

If I could manage a third career, I’d like to work in a National Park – especially Big Bend.  I think the desert is a beautiful, but harsh, place that holds many treasures, if you are willing to look for them.  Being the steward of such an awesome place would be very rewarding.

Have another question? email: John Middleton

Maria Lancaster

Maria Lancaster

Graduate Engineer

 

College Degree

  • Civil Engineering

Is your job fun? What do you do and why do you like it?

I work for the Local Flood Risk Reduction team in Watershed Engineering. The goal of our team is to reduce flooding due to drainage systems. People are exposed to two types of flooding here in Austin, it can come from creeks or from drainage systems that no longer have the capacity to capture all the rainfall. I do love working for the City of Austin and more specifically Watershed Protection as our main goal is to help all of Austin residents against the risks of flooding. I love that our “clients” are the people of Austin, people from our community.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

As most kids, growing up I wanted to become a veterinarian, so I could help all the animals. But my interests shifted to environmental work when I realized, in my teens, that our resources and our planet needed to be protected. A certain anxiety made me aware of the importance, for my generation and the future generations, to be active in practicing a more sustainable lifestyle and consciously try to waste less for our own survival. I also always loved math and science so environmental engineering made sense to me.

What did you study?

I attended the University of Texas and studied Civil Engineering and took most of my electives in Environmental Engineering. I had very interesting classes, like Environmental Sampling where we conducted a lot of lab experiments, learned about water quality and monitoring, and even learned how to make beer and made a batch in the classroom! I would say my favorite class was Indoor Air Quality, I learned so much about indoor pollution and how everyday activities that we don’t think about can have a big impact on our daily lives; such as the use of candles or incense and how many microparticles they release in the air and their effect on us. My studies combined my interests for environmental work and my mathematical skills.

What other jobs have you had?

I got my first job as a barista in a local coffee shop. I learned a lot about customer service, and I have now been in the service industry for close to 15 years. All throughout college I waited tables, and bartended. I am grateful for my experiences in the service as I learned how to interact with a lot of different people, also learned about time management while juggling full time classes.

What have you learned on the job?

Working for Watershed Protection, I learned a lot about flooding. The team I am part of deals with local flooding due to drainage systems. Before working there, I had no idea Austin experienced such bad flooding and why it did. Austin is in the flash flood alley and we don’t get that much rain but when it rains, it pours. I learned that creeks are beautiful, but you do not want to live next to one. My first job at the City was with the Onion Creek buyouts that were a result of the Halloween 2013 storm event, I learned quickly about the devastating impact of floods.

Have another question? Email: Maria Lancaster

 

Scientist

Donelle Robinson

Donelle Robinson

Environmental Scientist, Salamander Biologist

 

College Degrees

  • B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Biology with an emphasis on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behavior

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I didn’t know which career I wanted when I grew up. I think I didn’t know what adults did all day! But I knew that I liked discovering new things. I was interested in Paleontology and Archaeology but found out later that there was still a lot to learn about in ecology, and ended up preferring that.

What did you study?

I studied general biology and took as many ecology related courses as possible. It worked out well for my job and interests. It would be possible to have an environmental science career if you graduate from an environmental studies program that is focused on ecology (some environmental studies programs are more focused on policy or business).

What other jobs have you had?

I taught biology at the college level and I also had some internships with public lands doing environmental education. I also consider the time that I was in school a job-it was a lot of work and took many years! And graduate school was probably the best preparation for the job that I currently have. Graduate school in science focuses on research skills, data analysis, presentation skills, and writing.

What have you learned on the job?

The biggest thing that I’ve learned on the job that I couldn’t have learned in school is environmental monitoring on a construction site and reading site plans. I learned that because we sometimes do habitat restoration projects.

What job would you still like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

Probably an ecotourism travel writer, because I love exploring different parts of the world and that’s a job where you would get to travel a lot and still be in nature.

Have more questions?

Email: Donelle Robinson

Andrew Clamann

Andrew Clamann

Environmental Scientist

Biologist

College Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology, University of Texas at Austin
  • Master of Science in Applied Geography – Environmental Resource Management, Texas State University

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

I love my job because I get to help protect the water quality of Austin’s creeks and lakes.  I collect samples of water, algae and aquatic insects to determine if the water is polluted from things like fertilizers, sewage and other sources of pollution from the city.  I also find and protect wetlands from construction.  My favorite part of the job is being outside near the water of the creeks and lakes because I get to see all kinds of great wildlife like fish, snakes, turtles, salamanders, birds and cool bugs.  It makes me feel good to know that the job I do helps protect the habitat for all the animals that I see.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

 When I was young, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I really liked being outside near water, seeing wildlife and catching critters like fish and bugs.  I didn’t think that there were very many jobs that I could do that, but there are!

What did you study?

Growing up, I watched every single nature show I could find and I loved to read magazines and books and about wildlife and nature.  I remember reading an entire 15 volume encyclopedia of animals as a kid. I couldn’t get enough.  In high school I took extra science and math classes.  In college I got a bachelor’s degree in Biology and took several extra classes in field biology instead of other electives because science is my kind of fun.  I also went back to college to get a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management.  I plan to never stop learning more about biology.

What other jobs have you had?

After college, I taught high school science for a few years.  I liked teaching science, but I really wanted to be out in the field doing science instead of just talking about science, so I quit teaching and took a job as a field biologist.  That job was great because I got to travel all over Texas sampling water, doing biological surveys, collecting fish and aquatic bugs.  The most valuable part of my job as a field biologist was that I learned all the names of plants and animals and how the important habitats like wetlands and riparian areas function.  It also taught me how the Federal and State rules work that try to protect nature.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours? 

You never know what kind of skill or knowledge will be the thing that makes you more valuable than other people applying for a job.  Don’t think that just getting a degree is good enough.  The reason that I got hired for my job is because I was the only applicant that knew how to identify aquatic insects and how to do wetland delineations.  The more types of different skills you have, the more likely someone will hire you.  So take as many different classes, do as many internships, and get as many certifications, learn as many types of equipment that you can.  Find someone who has a job that you like and ask them what kind of skills you need.  It’s often knowing people that already have jobs you like that helps you get those jobs, so use your free time to be a part of clubs and organizations in your field, go to conferences, meet people in that career and ask how you can help them.

Have another question? Send Andrew Clamann an email.

 

Todd jackson

Todd Jackson

Environmental Scientist

Biologist

College Degree:   

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of North Texas

Have another question? Send Todd Jackson an email.

 

Mateo Scoggins

Mateo Scoggins

Environmental Scientist

Aquatic Biologist

College Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication, University of California at San Diego
  • Master of Science in Aquatic Biology, Southwest Texas State University

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

Yes, my job is very fun.  I am a stream ecologist for the City of Austin and my job is to find out what makes creeks and rivers unhealthy and then to figure out how to fix them. I get to spend a lot of time in the creeks in Austin, looking at the bugs, algae and vegetation, using what lives in the creeks to tell me their story.  I also get to take that story and use it to change the laws and policies so that our creeks can be cleaner and more accessible for the citizens of Austin. That part in particular makes me really happy.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was very young, I wanted to be a marine biologist. After years of school, and even college, I lost that thread, thinking I wasn’t cut out for science and math, and thought I wanted to be a journalist.  Somehow, after some life experience, I realized I did love science and could even handle the math.  I went back to school, with a better idea of what I wanted, and it was pretty easy.

What other jobs have you had?

I worked in restaurants (dishwater, busboy) and then in construction growing up.  I went into the Peace Corps after college and installed small water systems, which really helped me decide that I wanted to do things that made the world a better place.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Explore your interests freely and openly until you start to discover things that really interest you.  Take time to work and gain life experience before you commit to a career choice (between high school and college, or between college and grad school).  In stream ecology, you really probably need to go to graduate school, and work on original research (thesis/dissertation) as that allows you to delve deeply into something that you care about.  Try to specialize once you start recognizing what you are really interested in.

Have another question? Send Mateo Scoggins an email.

 

Staryn Wagner

Staryn Wagner

Environmental Scientist

College Degrees:

  • Associative Science, Whatcom Community College in 2000
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Western Washington University in 2002

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

Yes, I love my job and have a lot of fun doing it.  I have been tasked with the job of helping to improve the water quality in our creeks.  To do this, I try to find what is causing poor water quality and come up with ways to fix it.  This job puts me in contact with all kinds of interesting people and forces me to use my creativity to solve problems.

What did you study?

In school I spent a lot of time doing math and science.  Now that I have a job I realize that every class I took has contributed to my skill base, especially the things I did outside of school, like helping my dad build and repair things.

What other jobs have you had? 

I have been a door-to-door salesman, paperboy, donut fryer, grocery store clerk, bicycle mechanic, neon sign maker, commercial fisherman, landscaper, and construction worker.

What have you learned on the job?

I learned that walking under a ladder is bad luck because there are usually people on top of the ladder working that might drop things on your head.  Being able to communicate your needs with other people is one of the most important tasks you will have in work and the rest of life.

What has been your most interesting encounter on the job?

One of the property owners whose land we cross to get to Barton Creek loves what we do so much that she wants to help us.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Whatever it is that you want to do for a living start now.  There is no reason you can’t begin volunteering to do the work you want later in life.

Have another question? Send Staryn Wagner an email.

 

Ana Gonzales

Ana Gonzales 

Environmental Scientist

College Degrees:

  • Undergraduate degree in Biology, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala
  • Ph.D. in Plant Ecology, University of Texas at Austin

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

I love getting into the creeks, exploring all the different plants that grow along creeksides and making discoveries! We never get bored! It may be hot out there, or full of poison ivy, but boring, never!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be in the woods, climbing trees, exploring nature. Reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Robinson Crusoe made me want to figure out how to live in nature. My favorite TV shows growing up were those that had people explaining how nature works or were saving wild animals. I studied biology so I could live in the jungle or the forest and protect it.

What did you study?

In Guatemala, I studied biology in college and got to learn a lot about natural systems. Plants caught my heart, they are so amazing at adapting to their environment that I wanted to learn more about them. I then came to the U.S. and studied for a doctorate in plant ecology. There is so much we don’t know yet, I am still learning!

How did you find out about being a biologist?

One of my cousins was a student at college. I was 12 years old. She came to our house for dinner one day and was explaining to my parents about her degree in Biology. Until then, I always thought that I was going to be a veterinarian or a doctor because those were the only careers I knew about that were related to natural sciences. I could not believe all the things she got to do, explore the forest, identify animals and plants, camp out in the woods! That very night, I knew exactly what my career was going to be: biologist!

What other jobs have you had?

I was a forester, helping take care of trees and identifying if they were sick or needed care. I also did a research project studying the vegetation in one of our natural preserves here in Austin: Indian Grass Wildlife Sanctuary. That project recommended burning the vegetation, just like Native Americans did a long time ago, to bring back our Blackland Prairie. For most of my life as a student, I was also a teaching assistant helping other students understand and practice the concepts learned in class, and I ran labs, too.

Have another question?  Send Ana Gonzalez an email.

 

Tomm Devitt

Tom Devitt

Environmental Scientist

Salamander Biologist

College Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology (Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation emphasis), University of Texas at Austin
  • Master of Science in Biology, Louisiana State University
  • Ph.D. in Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

Overall, my job is pretty fun. I'm a biologist, and I study aquatic organisms like salamanders and invertebrates to monitor the health of aquatic ecosystems and the water that sustains them. I get to spend lots of time outdoors in nature, which is one of the reasons I like my job. My job is fulfilling because I get to use the skills and knowledge I gained in school to help protect the environment in and around Austin, a place I grew up in and feel connected to.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I've always wanted to be a herpetologist when I grew up (someone who studies reptiles and amphibians). I've always been fascinated by snakes, frogs, turtles, and salamanders, and I developed a passion for them very early in life (from age 3 or so). I developed a love of nature and wildlands as a result of my interests, and have known that I wanted to work in conservation for a long time.

What did you study?

I studied biology in college and grad school. I sought out all of the field-based classes I could (entomology, herpetology, vertebrate natural history, etc.). My graduate studies took me all over the world doing research -- the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, and Costa Rica, as well as many parts of the U.S.

What job would you still like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

I like my job, but would like to do more for nature conservation on a global scale. Or, maybe, I'll go back to teaching and doing research, which I also loved. That said, I'm pretty happy in my current role.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

The best advice I could give someone who wants to be a professional biologist is work hard, do well in school, and seek out opportunities to meet people doing the work you think you might like to do.  Ask them if they'd ever let you shadow them at work for a while. If you have a passion for something, follow it, and don't listen to people who might say that you'll never make a living doing it. A college professor I had used to say to me, "The world needs more plumbers, not herpetologists. But, if you have to be a herpetologist, you'll probably be a good one."

Have another question?  Send Tom Devitt an email.

 

Scott Hiers

Scott Hiers

Environmental Scientist

Geologist

College Degree:

  • Bachelor Science in Geology, University of Wisconsin

Is your job fun?  What do you do and why do you like it?

Being a geologist is fun, especially if you like being outdoors some of the time, like I do. I love being outside, in nature, studying earth systems. I especially love knowing how to read the rocks.  Growing up, I loved looking for rocks and minerals and had a rock and mineral collection. I found rocks and mineral to be beautiful because of all the many different colors and shapes that they come in. Some can be quite rare and contain fossils of corals, clams and plants or large crystal minerals.  As a Geologist, I love hiking and mapping all different rock units and unlocking their history from its primordial past to present day.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

As kid, I wanted to be chemist, but I wasn’t very good at organic chemistry. I struggled through my first organic chemistry class and I knew that being a chemist might not be right for me. I recalled that I had a passion for the outdoors and for rocks and minerals. I collected rocks and minerals as a kid, so I decide to take a physical geology class in college.  I loved it. My desire to learn more about the earth was kindled, and my passion grew into a love of nature and the natural environment and rocks and minerals that make up the Earth. I knew I wanted to work in a job that would help me protect my planet, so I decided that I was going to be a geologist.

How did you find out about being an Environmental Scientist?

 I started as a part-time volunteer with the City’s Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program – ‘The Water Watchdogs’. As a volunteer, I learned of the position opening that involved studying and protecting  Austin’s surface water, so I applied.

What job would you still like to have that isn’t the one you work now?

I don’t know. I’m still having fun as geologist.  I’ve done so many jobs, and I’ve enjoyed all the people I have worked for and with over the years. Perhaps my next will be a job helping people or playing bass guitar in a band. 

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Don’t ever give up! Find volunteer and internship opportunities to work with people in your field of interest and use these experiences to meet and network with people.

Have another question? Send Scott Heirs an email.

 

David Johns

David Johns

Environmental Scientist

Hydrogeologist

College Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Geology, Texas A&M
  • Master of Arts in Geology, University of Texas at Austin

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young I wanted to be a vet because I loved animals and did my best to rehabilitate injured animals, but I wasn’t very good at that. I think that was probably part of my initial love of nature – water, woods and most all things outdoors.

What did you study?

It became clear to me in high school that I loved the outdoors and wanted to help keep the environment clean rather than exploit it. I had a very inspirational high school biology teacher who was also a chaperone for an Explorer Post (called Adventure Scouts today) that took kids on canoe and hiking trips that helped kindle my love of the outdoors. I knew I wanted to get a job in something related to the outdoors and biology seemed to be a path to get me there. In college, it became clear to me that biology wasn’t doing for me what I had hoped. A friend was taking a geology class and I looked over his text books and talked with him and realized that I had been fascinated with rocks for many years. So I gave geology a shot. I absolutely loved it! Why? Perhaps because it helped me understand so much about what I was experiencing outside – rivers, lakes, beaches, oceans, mountains, forests. So in college I studied many basic geology areas like mineralogy, structural geology, sedimentary/volcanic/metamorphic rocks, mapping, and global geology and how the continents have moved over geologic time of billions of years, economic geology (think metals and oil and gas and coal) and finally groundwater, which helped me get the job I have today.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve been fortunate that all my post-college jobs have been in my field of geology - it doesn’t happen that way all the time.

What have you learned on the job?

That no matter how much you think you know, there is so much more to learn.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Don’t give up when things get hard and difficult, because you never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Have another question?  Send David Johns an email.