Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 3

This is part 3 of a four-part series about women in fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At King County March is proclaimed Women’s History Month. Historically, careers in STEM fields have been male-dominated. In the Water and Land Resources Division, 45 percent of the nearly 400 employees are women representing the STEM fields — the expertise needed to provide clean water and healthy habitat for all of King County.

We asked a sampling of our ecologists, biologists, engineers, planners and landscape architects how they pursued a career in a historically male-dominated field and what advice they might have for other women.

About the Water and Land Resource Division’s employees

20180412-IMG_4404.jpgJessica Engel is a water quality planner in the Stormwater Services Section’s Water Quality Compliance Unit. She develops and implements a variety of programs that improve water quality and climate resiliency throughout the region.

“I have a Bachelors in Sociology and a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy,” said Jessica. “Both have given me the ability to understand what drives people to treat the environment the way they do and the framework to ensure our natural resources are protected.”

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Mary Rabourn does environmental communications and is on the same team in Stormwater Services.

“I work with regional teams on effective outreach and multicultural communications,” said Mary. “Information needs to meet people where they are, in a form they can use, at a time they need it, and when it is relevant — and exciting — to them.”

Mary began her career in geology and remote sensing and has worked on industrial and residential hazardous waste projects, pesticide safety, and stormwater. She specializes in building personal and community connections to big issues.

DSC_0077Richelle Rose is a program manager for the Snoqualmie River team in the River and Floodplain Management Section where she manages non-structural, flood risk reduction programs to improve resiliency for residents and farms.

“Much of my 25 year career has been focused at the intersection of people and natural hazards,” said Richelle. “It is important to understand the natural environment and how people interact with nature to protect both.  Growing up in Alaska inspired my love for the outdoors and the environment which lead me to pursue a career that respects that balance.”

Richelle has a Bachelor of Science in Geologic Sciences from University of Washington.

Continue reading Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 3

Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 2

This is part 2 of a four-part series about women in fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At King County March is proclaimed Women’s History Month. Historically, careers in STEM fields have been male-dominated. In the Water and Land Resources Division, 45 percent of the nearly 400 employees are women representing the STEM fields — the expertise needed to provide clean water and healthy habitat for all of King County.

We asked a sampling of our ecologists, biologists, engineers, planners and landscape architects how they pursued a career in a historically male-dominated field and what advice they might have for other women.

About the Water and Land Resource Division’s employees

20180314-IMG_4344Beth leDoux is the technical coordinator for the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum and works in WLRD’s Rural and Regional Services Section.

“I pursued my interest in environmental science at a college and graduate school level,” said Beth, “and have leveraged my communication and leadership skills in my current job to support salmon recovery through improving technical knowledge and partnerships.”

20180412-IMG_4466Alison Schweitzer (née Sienkiewicz) is a stormwater pollution prevention inspector in the Water Quality Compliance Unit of WLRD’s Stormwater Services Section. She has a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from the University of Washington.

“I perform pollution prevention visits at all commercial businesses within unincorporated King County,” said Schweitzer, “providing education and technical assistance to businesses and property owners to identify and mitigate potential pollution discharges.

20180314-IMG_3688Olivia Wright is an engineer in WLRD’s River and Floodplain Management Section where she provides technical and engineering support for river and floodplain management programs and projects. Olivia is a transplant from Atlanta, GA who holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Washington.

20180412-IMG_4531Jo Opdyke Wilhelm is an environmental scientist with WLRD’s Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College and a master’s degree in aquatic ecology from the University of Michigan.

“I design, permit, implement, and monitor stream, river and nearshore habitat restoration projects with teams of restoration professionals in King County,” said Jo.

 

Continue reading Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 2

Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 1

At King County March is proclaimed Women’s History Month. Historically, careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have been male-dominated. In the Water and Land Resources Division, 45 percent of the nearly 400 employees are women representing the STEM fields — the expertise needed to provide clean water and healthy habitat for all of King County.

We asked a sampling of our ecologists, biologists, engineers, planners and landscape architects how they pursued a career in a historically male-dominated field and what advice they might have for other women.

About Water and Land Resource Division’s employees

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Fauna Nopp is a capital project manager in the Rural and Regional Services Section of WLRD’s Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit. She has a degree in landscape architecture and started working on restoration projects as a design team member 25 years ago.

“Over the years I took an interest in managing projects, obtained my project management professional certification,” said Fauna. “Now I manage and supervise some of King County’s largest capital improvement habitat projects.”

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Laura Hartema is an ecologist in the Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit of WLRD’s Rural and Regional Services Section.

She is part of team of engineers and ecologists that develops, designs, permits and builds habitat restoration projects along streams, rivers, wetlands and floodplain environments, followed by monitoring the projects and reporting on outcomes and success. Laura has a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in chemistry.

“I prepared for this job through years of volunteering, internships, stints at a state fish hatchery and a hazardous waste firm, completing UW’s certificate program in wetlands, working as a fisheries observer on Alaska’s high seas, and never giving up,” said Laura.

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Sophie Chiang is a senior ecologist in the Ecological Services Unit of WLRD’s River and Floodplain Management Section.

Sophie provides ecological guidance related to levee design, levee setback, and revetment design and is responsible for the environmental permits of these facilities. Habitat components include fish habitat, mitigation, and restoration for projects associated with flood risk reduction. She has an undergraduate degree in environmental analysis and design and a master’s degree in environmental science.

“Before working for King County, I worked in the field of environmental consulting and with non-profit organizations as a wildlife biologist and gained a wide breadth of project experience along the West Coast, including the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West, as well as throughout the United States,” said Sophie.

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Heidi Kandathil is a project manager, now with the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Parks and Recreation Division.

“I work on special projects for the Parks and Recreation Division and am currently working on developing the proposal for the next parks levy,” said Heidi.  “My background is in engineering and urban planning but the Peace Corps is what really instigated my interest in community development and conservation.”

 

Continue reading Water and Land Resources Division’s Women in STEM: Part 1

King County visits the Enumclaw iSTEM Expo

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Protecting our water quality depends on understanding science and using math.

King County will show some of the ways math and science skills apply to jobs in the environment, on Feb. 8 at the Enumclaw Schools Foundation iSTEM Expo, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Enumclaw Expo Center.

“Math – The Universal Language” is the theme for 2018 and  employees from King County’s Water and Land Resources Division will be there with hands-on activities. Look for our Stormwater “CSI” booth, try the Enviroscape and see how water flows through watersheds, test water using the same tools we use in the field, and ask about how to find pollution! Science rocks!

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Students learn how King County uses technology to map our stormwater system and protect it.

King County swimming beach monitoring starts up – data and alerts available weekly

Summer is on the way (fingers crossed warm weather comes to stay sooner rather than later) and King County has begun its seasonal monitoring of freshwater swimming beaches to ensure they are safe for recreation.

Water samples are taken weekly at the freshwater swimming beaches listed below and analyzed for fecal coliform bacteria, toxins, water temperature, and harmful algal toxins.

Beach goers, swimmers, and science enthusiasts can sign up to receive weekly alerts and status updates about the freshwater beaches being monitored. Visit the King County Swimming Beach Monitoring Program website to subscribe. Monitoring results and closure information are posted weekly to the web page. There you can also find information about “swimmer’s itch,” toxic algae blooms and hazards to pets, plus combined sewer overflow locations and status and a link to marine beach monitoring performed by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The Water and Land Resources (WLR) Division and Public Health – Seattle & King County work together on the program, with WLR managing the monitoring and analysis and Public Health being responsible for closing beaches when there is a risk to public health.

2017 swimming beaches monitored by King County

  • Andrews Bay – Seward Park
  • Beaver Lake Beach
  • Echo Lake
  • Enatai Beach
  • Gene Coulon
  • Green Lake Duck Island Launch
  • Green Lake – East
  • Green Lake – West
  • Groveland Park Beach
  • Hidden Lake
  • Houghton Beach
  • Idylwood Beach
  • Idylwood Creek
  • John’s Creek
  • Juanita Beach
  • Juanita Creek
  • Kennydale Beach
  • Lake Sammamish Beach
  • Lake Wilderness Beach
  • Luther Burbank Beach
  • Madison Park Beach
  • Madrona Beach
  • Magnuson Beach
  • Magnuson Beach Off Leash Area
  • Marina Park Beach
  • Matthews Beach
  • Mount Baker Beach
  • NE 130th Pl
  • Newcastle Beach
  • Pine Lake
  • Pritchard Island Beach
  • Rattlesnake Lake (monitored by Seattle Public Utilities)
  • Sammamish Landing Beach
  • Thornton Creek
  • Waverly Park Beach

 

Earth Week 2017: Celebrating science!

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Join us in celebrating science in the week leading up to Earth Day, April 22. Looking for a way to make a difference or pitch in? Check out our tips, volunteer events and green guidelines at our Earth Week Hub!

King County and its partners have committed to plant one million trees by 2020 as part of our Strategic Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for climate impacts. Trees store carbon and contribute to clean air and water, healthy habitat for salmon and other wildlife, and more livable communities. (If you want to help, here’s our video showing how to plant a tree.)

This type of commitment reflects why the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) is King County’s first carbon neutral agency — meaning we reduce and remove more greenhouse gas emissions than we generate.

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Science is at the bedrock of what we do here at DNRP. We are specialists in marine biology, nearshore ecology, environmental chemistry, limnology, toxicology, wildlife biology and biodiversity, microbiology, zoology and more. Our employees collect, analyze, model and interpret information that supports dozens of environmental programs, including those that address land use, habitat management, wastewater treatment, salmon and biodiversity, water resources, and surface water management.

To us, every day is Earth Day!

 

Engineering: See It, Solve It!

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Students take a quiz about their knowledge of native plants and noxious weeds, part of the STEM conference on Feb. 9, 2017

“Engineering: See It, Solve It” was the theme of the Feb. 9, Enumclaw STEM Expo. And since Science, technology, engineering and math are the cornerstones of the work done in the Water and Land Resources Division, naturally we were there to spark the interest of the next generation of our workforce.

As seen in this photo, many of the more than 3,000 attendees took the “Noxious or Native Quiz” to see if they could identify plants in their environment.

The Stormwater Services team showed kids how they map King County’s stormwater system digitally and did some hands-on water sampling demos with equipment to show how they manage stormwater and improve water quality.

King County’s Noxious Weed Program and Stormwater Services teams were two of more than 70 exhibitors that included Boeing, Fred Hutchinson Science Education Partnership, Pacific Science Center, Association of Chemical Engineering Graduate Students and the King Conservation District.