Environmental Policy and Decision Making ‘14
Master of Environment and Natural Resources ‘17
Assistant Farm Manager
Katy completed her undergraduate degree in SENR in 2014 after majoring in Environmental Policy and Decision Making. During her time in SENR, she was involved in OSU Rugby and studied abroad in Australia and Fiji. After graduation, Katy worked as a Forestry Technician with the USFS and earned her Master of Environment and Natural Resource in 2017. She is now working to convert her family’s farm in Blissfield, MI, to organic operations.
Read the full interview with Katy:
A Glance at Katy’s Current Work
I just left my jobs working for the Forest Service as a Forestry Technician (Fire) and the Gunnison Watershed School District as a Special Education Educational Assistant. I will now be dedicating more of my time in helping the family farm transition to organic. I work on the organic records remotely, but head back during harvest to help in person. The farm is located in Blissfield, MI.
A typical day for me includes managing all organic records pertaining to certification. I also assist in enrolling in Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, researching potential markets, securing grants, and day-to-day operational tasks (maintenance of equipment, driving equipment, etc.). The most rewarding part of my job is accomplishing organic certification and stepping away from our dependency on conventional inputs.
"Don’t be afraid of what job you might pursue, you never know what it can teach you."
What were you involved in during college?
During college, I was involved in OSU Rugby. I also took part in the Sustaining Human Societies and the Natural Environment, Australia and Fiji, which was an education abroad opportunity, in 2013. Additionally, during my graduate experience, I was a Policy Intern at OEFFA in 2016. I learned a lot from participating in both and wish I would have done them earlier. They helped to guide me in what I would like to study and where I would like to work. It was also a good opportunity to meet fellow students and network.
What advice would you give to someone who is still in college and hoping to do what you do?
I'm not exactly doing what I want to do yet, but my advice would be to volunteer and find internships. Networking is key. Lastly, be willing to move elsewhere for a job; you will have a lot more options and build experience faster.
What was a challenge you faced in your professional development and how did you overcome it?
Job duties seemed vague and/or trivial. I tried to learn as much as I could in researching certain topics as well as considering the skillset I was gaining in performing aforementioned tasks.
Katy’s Experience in Wildland Fire
What did you do post-graduation?
My first year at OSU was 2004, and then I joined the Army. I finally finished my BS in 2014 after I was honorably discharged. The Student Conservation Association contacted me before I graduated and offered me a spot on a Veteran Fire Crew. That’s how I secured my job with the USFS. I realized my interests were specifically related to sustainable agriculture and decided to pursue my MENR degree. Needless to say, while I thoroughly enjoyed my studies, I enjoyed working outside even more (which is why I’ve continued my work as a wildland firefighter and put off other job searches).
Any work related to wildfire is becoming increasingly important due to climate change. As a Wildland Firefighter, or Forestry Technicians, we are the “boots on the ground” that suppress or manage wildfires. A large part of the job, when we don’t have fires, is public land management. This management is usually the act of managing fuels (i.e., vegetation that can be a source of fuel for a fire). Work in this area can include timber stand improvement, meadow restoration, and/or prescribed burning which aid in the reduction of fuels and either promote wildlife habitat or decrease fire risk.
There are many facets of this job, and all are important for the health of our landscape. Unfortunately, there are simply not enough people who are willing to do this work. As fire season becomes longer and more severe, it is becoming quite clear that policy needs to change as well. I would encourage any EPDM student that is seeking a policy role to understand the system from the bottom up. This is part of the reason why I have chosen to go back to the farm. I realized I can’t be a part of any “change” if I don’t understand how the change should and needs to occur. I learned that the hard way during my tour in Afghanistan. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be afraid of what job you might pursue, you never know what it can teach you.
"I would encourage any EPDM student that is seeking a policy role to understand the system from the bottom up."
How to connect with Katy:
Post created November 2021