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Career Series: Two Bay City District Office staffers make a difference
December 13, 2022
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has a main office at Constitution Hall in Lansing and 10 district offices. Today’s MI Environment article – the latest in its Career Series – looks at two EGLE staffers in the Bay City District Office.
The two staffers listed below answered these five questions:
- What is your position at EGLE and what office/city/region do you work out of?
- Discuss your education journey.
- What is a typical workday like?
- How does what you do in your job have an impact on Michiganders’ lives?
- What advice can you offer to students considering your career path?
- I am an area geologist for the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division in the Bay City office.
- I attended Eastern Michigan University for my bachelor’s degree and Northern Illinois University for my master’s degree in geology. I gained experience working in the oil and gas industry for eight years in Bakersfield, Calif.
- For a typical day in the field, I will drive around one of my areas (Isabella, Midland, and Tuscola counties) and inspect oil/gas wells and facilities. I make sure the that the sites are in compliance and that there aren't any threats to people and the environment, such as an oil or brine spill. A typical day in the office consists of writing up violations for issues I observed in the field and reviewing various applications submitted by operators.
- I ensure that oil/gas wells and facilities are not posing a threat to natural resources, especially ground and surface waters, and if they are, I take immediate action to minimize any negative impact.
- Although it may not seem like it at the time, a lot of the educational and work experiences you have early on will prove to be very valuable when it comes to starting your career. Don't devalue an experience just because it was boring or difficult!
- I am an Environmental Quality Analyst in EGLE’s Remediation and Redevelopment Division, and I work out of the Bay City District Office.
- My education journey is kind of spread out. When I was very young my mom was reading “The Hobbit” and she would read it aloud to me when she had time, which of course was never often enough for me. I couldn't wait to start school so that I could learn to read so that I could read about that dragon whenever I wanted. Thing is though, once I did learn to read and I had the skill I wanted so badly, I lost all interest in school and spent most of my time reading about the things I wanted to know and barely put any effort into my classes. I did manage to graduate high school, but mostly because no one really cared, and kids like me just kind of passed through the system. After which I spent years working all kinds of different jobs: dish washer, janitor, car detailer, convenience store clerk, shop rat, telemarketer, general construction, roofer, flooring installer, tattoo artist, etc. Finally, in my mid-thirties I decided I should go back to school and take education seriously. I spent two years at Delta College to obtain my associate degree in Environmental Technology. Then, while working in a lab in Dow Chemical, I took online classes with Southern New Hampshire University, obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and graduating summa cum laude.
- Some days I spend a lot of time reviewing reports and going over analytical data related to releases at Part 213 sites (dealing with leaking underground storage tanks) and Part 201 sites (where contamination comes from various sources). This is where my experience with lab work helps out immensely. I also respond to complaint calls to help the incident manager of my district. This is the most interesting part of my job, as each situation is individual and leads to direct contact with the public. Sometimes it can be a little scary walking into unknown situations on someone's private property, but for the most part people are willing to cooperate. This is where my experience working a lot of different jobs in the past comes in handy, because it makes it where I can relate to most people, and makes them feel like they can relate to me, which typically leads to a more comfortable discussion about the issues at hand. I believe my varied background also makes it easier for me when I am dealing with consultants in my capacity as a project manager, again because I feel I can be more relatable.
- What I do in my job keeps Michiganders safe. Whether it is as a project manager, making sure that releases of hazardous substances are cleaned up properly, or by responding to incidents to stop the release of hazardous substances, or by investigating sites to see if we can clean them up so they can be put to use by new businesses.
- Really pay attention to the chemistry classes, especially if you can get into a class that covers analytical data. Understanding the data, and how it is generated, will be invaluable to understanding what is going on with your sites. For your electives, take the extra geography and ecology classes to get a really good picture of how things interact and behave in the environment. And while you're at it, take the history classes of your state. It really helps to know what kind of industries have historically operated in the areas you are going to be working in.