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EGLE Career Series: Water Resources Division staffers highlight their career paths

Today’s MI Environment article profiles several staffers in the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Water Resources Division. It’s the first in a periodic Career Series that will feature the backgrounds and careers of EGLE staffers.

The staffers listed below answered these five questions:

  1. What is your position at EGLE and what office/city/region do you work out of?
  2. Discuss your education journey.
  3. What is a typical workday like?
  4. How does what you do in your job have an impact on Michiganders’ lives?
  5. What advice can you offer to students considering your career path?


Danielle McLain

Danielle McLean headshot

  1. I’m an environmental quality analyst, Lansing District Office Water Quality.
  2. I attended Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. for my bachelor’s degree for biology (minor in environmental ecosystems) and attended the University of Toledo for my master’s of science degree in biology/ecology. Prior to working at the State, I worked for a small consulting firm as a certified wetland delineator but since the business was small, winter months were spent doing compliance assistance for industrial facilities for storm water and air. This work ultimately gave me the experience I needed for my current position. 
  3. All of my programs, Industrial Storm Water, Construction Storm Water, and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, divide my time between field inspections and in-person compliance assistance and complaint responses and the formal documentation, MiWaters data entry, and progressive enforcements. A typical field inspection day would include a file review of the site, meeting with a facility and reviewing the last three years of inspection documentation, training logs, permits, and reviewing the site conditions and verbally communicating issues and corrections to the facility. The field inspection is about 25% of the effort of an overall evaluation. After the field inspection I come back to the office and complete my inspection reports, generate photographic logs, generate photo location maps, generate violations in MiWaters, upload any associated communications or documents, generate either a violation notice or general transmittal letter, and create a response schedule. The in-office paperwork and site follow-up is about 75% of what I do.
  4. Each one of my inspections results in the reduction of exposure and potential contamination to surface waters of the state of Michigan, which ensures that the citizens of the state have access to the fun and clean recreational waters that Michigan is known for.
  5. Classes or trainings you can take that focus on environmental policy development, incident command, emergency responses, wastewater, and water treatment will offer you a leg up in working within the department to accomplish your goals and address a rapidly evolving suite of programs in environmental health and safety.

Marissa Buehler

Marissa Buehler headshot

  1. I am an environmental quality analyst (groundwater permits project coordinator), and I work out of Constitution Hall in Lansing.
  2. I went to Grand Valley State University and graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in geology. I was an intern with EGLE during my last year at Grand Valley, and while this wasn't required for my position, it was a really great experience that allowed me to work and network with staff from a variety of divisions within EGLE and see firsthand the wide range of work that we do in the department.
  3. A typical workday involves many meetings and emails to coordinate permit reviews and responses. I review permit applications and work with business owners and environmental consultants as well as internal staff to ensure that the permits we issue for wastewater discharges to groundwater are protective of groundwater, drinking water, and surface water.
  4. My work directly affects Michiganders' lives by protecting our drinking water, Michigan's beautiful lakes and streams, and the state’s invaluable groundwater resource. Through regulating groundwater discharges, I ensure that Michigan businesses are able to thrive, while properly managing their wastewater to protect their neighbors and the environment.
  5. There are so many opportunities in the environmental field and a wide variety of jobs. I would advise students to explore the different career paths and find what fits what they are passionate about and what fits the lifestyle that they want. It is so rewarding to work in a job where you are able to make a difference and have a balance in your life!

Marcy Knoll Wilmes

Marcy Knoll Wilmes headshot

  1. I am an aquatic biology specialist within the Water Resources Division at Constitution Hall in Lansing. I am the monitoring coordinator for the Surface Water Assessment Section (SWAS).
  2. I attended Central Michigan University (Fire Up Chips!) for my undergraduate degree in conservation of natural resources with a minor in environmental education and my master's degree in aquatic ecology. I knew early on in my career path that I wanted to work for state government to protect Michigan's water resources. After completing my bachelor's degree, I started as a student worker with the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division where I gained field experience in fisheries sampling and identification. I returned to CMU for my master's degree so that I could design my own research project and learn the skills needed to become a biologist. I started working for EGLE in a district office as environmental quality analyst to minimize proposed impacts to water resources including wetlands, lakes and streams. I transitioned into an aquatic biologist position within EGLE in Lansing and have worked in the same office since that time assessing the water quality of Michigan's lakes and streams.
  3. In my current job there are two different types of days: office days and field days. Office days consist of emails, meetings, report writing, and administration of contracts/grants with the overarching goal of monitoring Michigan's lakes and streams, filling monitoring gaps, the protection of Michigan's surface waters, and identifying emerging issues. Field days consist of monitoring rivers for water quality by assessing the macroinvertebrate (aquatic insect) community, monitoring the trophic status of inland lakes, or reviewing nutrient expression of algae and plants in streams and lakes. Sampling could include collecting water, sediment, fish, or macroinvertebrates to assess the water quality.
  4. The surface water monitoring conducted by my coworkers and me seeks to restore and protect Michigan's surface water quality for the public to recreate in, on and around our lakes and rivers.
  5. My advice would be: Find mentors within the field you are looking to enter; take advantage of opportunities to gain new skills through volunteering with different groups, including watershed councils, conservation districts, state/federal government or EGLE programs like MiCorps; and be a life-long learner.