Meet Your Local Environmental Professionals

10/01/22  By: Kailey Kreienbrink

When people hear that I am a college student, the first question they ask is, “What are you studying?”. Sharing that I am studying Environmental Studies gets me lots of love. The most common response is that it is so important what I am studying and how there are going to be so many job openings for me in the future. As the climate is changing we are going to depend upon jobs where people learn how to manage land correctly, create alternative energy and transportation, conserve natural resources, etc. President Biden recently passed a bill that sets aside over $300 billion dollars to be invested in energy and climate reform. This bill is going to increase solar panels, wind turbines, efficient homes, etc. and it will also create jobs for people to help implement these changes. These jobs are going to be brand new, they didn’t exist 100s of years ago, some of these jobs will not have existed even 20 years ago.

As a kid my dream job was to be a teacher, as I am sure it was for many other kids. A big reason that this was my dream job is because it was one of the only jobs that I had even been exposed to as a kid. It is hard to have a unique dream job as a kid because you have not been exposed to the unlimited possibilities of careers within our world. As a senior in highschool I was still sticking to this idea of being a teacher, but I didn’t really feel too passionate about it. It was just an easy option for me. But then I took an AP Environmental Science class. My world was changed. I had never taken a class that got me that excited before. I was learning all of these things that felt as though they should have been common knowledge…but weren’t. We had a unit on Environmental Justice, and the rest is history. I went to college and started studying Environmental Studies and Sociology with a passion for the  interaction of social relationships and the environment. Had I never taken that class though, I would have missed out on this entire Environmental field, and I would probably be student teaching in a school for my final year of college preparing to be a teacher. 

Although the future is going to have a ton of jobs in the Environmental field, there is a missing link between these jobs and public knowledge of the careers. We need more of the connections to this field like I had with my AP Environmental Science course. This October WREN is launching a new page on the WREN website: “Meet Your Local Environmental Professionals”. The creation of this website has been a large portion of the work I have been doing as the Americorp Intern with WREN this summer. I was inspired to create this database due to my own personal career searching. As an incoming Senior at the University of Oregon I am finding that I do not feel prepared for what comes after graduation…getting a job! There are a lot of careers to choose from, so many that a majority of people don’t even know most of the jobs that exist! I created this page for people interested in pursuing a career within the environmental field. On the webpage you will find a variety of careers, many you may have never heard about – I know I never had! My goal for the page is for you, your kids, or your grandkids to be able to use this resource as a gateway to the professional field. You will find video interviews that answer some basic questions about the career along with a written portion below the videos that has a job description, ways to get involved, an average salary, and advice from the professionals themselves. I want to highlight that I have also provided contact information for the professionals! I highly encourage you to use this to do some networking. 

Networking is building connections with people. People already in a career are an excellent resource for those of us looking to enter careers. They have first hand experience that they can share with us! I encourage you to reach out to the professionals of the interviews you find to be the most interesting and write some of your own questions that you have for them. You will have the opportunity to learn more about a potential job, who knows you may even end up getting an internship out of the deal or a connection that leads you to your future career!

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