The SKiNNY on the job: Environmental Science Technology

On this episode, we’re going to take a closer
look at environmental science technology. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t
know a lot about that, but I do know…we’re at the beach. So let’s get the SKiNNY on the job. Here at TCC, the associate of science degree
in environmental science technology, which is part of the STEM metamajor, is growing
in popularity as this field continues to expand. Technicians in this field are responsible
for testing water, soil, and air for contaminants and finding out where they’re coming from. Precision, attention to detail, and the ability
to communicate with a team are common traits of an environmental science technician. It’s also important to have a love of nature
and a desire to make a difference. I’m here with Russ, now Russ, what’s your
background in this field? Well I went through school at Florida State
University, got my degree in biology, then I worked for the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection for 35 years. I was in the field a lot, in the lab a lot,
writing reports and doing data analysis, that sort of thing. Wow, that’s amazing! What first drew you to this kind of work when
you were thinking about what to go to college for? I love nature, I love the interconnections
between all life, you spend your whole life studying it and you still just learn just
a little everyday. You can learn your entire life, that’s what
I really enjoy about it, it’s really fun. Right, what kind of growth opportunities are
you seeing in this field right now? Well, you know you’ve got state government,
federal government, local city and county governments, you’ve got consulting firms
that all will need environmental scientists of some degree. So, there’s definitely openings in the field. Well it sounds like you’ve worked hard in
your career, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us today! It’s my pleasure. Thank you! I’m here with Heather Krutchfield who’s
about to graduate from TCC, and currently volunteers with the Alligator Point Sea Turtle
Patrol. Heather, what made you decide to get involved
in the environmental science technology program at TCC? Well I started at TCC with an AA degree and
I switched over to an AS degree because I felt like it fit my personality better as
far as wanting to be doing field work, and through the AS degree I was able to get in
touch with Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol and started volunteering with them last summer. What is it about your personality that you
mentioned that works really well with this program? I like being outdoors, so that was very important
to me, helping the environment, cleaning up the environment, educating people. I’m very much a people person, so I really
enjoyed going and educating people about the beach in general and about these turtles,
and what we need to do to help them survive into adulthood to be able to lay these nests. Sounds like you’ve learned a lot! Now, what are you gonna show me today? Well today we’re gonna walk the beach and
look for sea turtle crawls, and hopefully we can find a nest where turtles came and
laid some eggs overnight. Awesome, let’s go! Thanks! So we actually got lucky today, we found a
turtle crawl. We identified that it was a loggerhead, and
so what we normally do is we’ll come out and we’ll actually screen it off and put
up a sign so that people do not bother the nest, and so that way we also know where the
nest is when it’s time to evaluate it. So this is the screen you were talking about? So this is a predator screen, it helps protect
the nest. If you want to take it, I’ll show you how
we set it down where it’s horizontal, so that way the predators can’t get it. We set it horizontal so the sea turtles can
come out if they try to make it out of the nest before we come back to evaluate it. By about day 55 we actually will come and
evaluate the nest, because that’s how long the incubation period lasts. After we put down the screen, we flag each
four corners on the inside of the fencing. What does that mean? Just so that way we can easily see it, even
from a distance, we can then say, “Hey, that’s where our nest is at that we need
to go evaluate”. Oh okay, so that helps. About how many nests could you have in any
given season? Last season we were really low, we only had
about 20 nests, but the season before that we had about 72, so it can really vary from
year to year. Wow, so this way you can see them. Yeah, and after we flag it, we put this sign
up that says “do not disturb”, that way people know that they can get in real trouble
for messing with this. Really, really detailed, I like that! Alright, so we can just continue our patrol
this morning and look for something else. So another important thing we do out here
as patrol is that we look for anything that people leave out on the beach overnight, and
we just try to inform the public that this can be potentially dangerous for a turtle
if she’s trying to come up and nest. So what we do is we use these signs, and it
gives them all the information about what we do and that they’re out here nesting,
because unfortunately, some people just don’t know and they don’t do it and they don’t
think that this could be harmful. Right, I didn’t know that! That’s why it’s so important to educate
the public about this. Well thank you so much Heather for taking
me on your route today. Yeah no problem! So if you have as much passion for the environment
as Heather does, this might be a great career for you. Talk to your adviser or visit the TCC website
for more information.

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