In May of 2009, I had just finished my freshman year at Scottsdale Community College and began searching for a career path in the environmental field when I found the Hydrologic Studies Program at GateWay Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. I went down to the school and spoke with the program director where I learned about the great career opportunities the program had to offer, including working as a hydrologic technician for the USGS.
I was very interested in this opportunity, so I enrolled that same day for the following semester. The USGS came to the college to interview and recruit students for summer internships, and I was fortunate in being recruited for a summer internship as a SCEP at the Redding Field Office in California.
I completed my summer internship in Redding and was offered the permanent position after completion of the program. I graduated in May of 2011 and was then converted to a permanent position and promoted shortly after.
As a hydrological technician, my primary duties involve managing real-time surface water gaging stations. This consists of making monthly gage inspections, stream flow measurements, processing field data, and performing necessary maintenance to ensure the gage is operating properly. This hydrologic data is collated for record computation and analysis, which is provided for the public, sister agencies, and cooperators.
During my time at USGS, one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had working in the field was during the 2011 peak flow release on the Trinity River, a part of the Trinity River Restoration Program peak flow releases for the fisheries.
The Trinity River in northwestern California supports large populations of several different fish species, including salmon and steelhead. Since the late 1950s, 75 to 90 percent of the River’s annual flow has been exported for surrounding populations’ water and power needs, and this habitat alteration has resulted in declines of salmon and steelhead populations.
Since the 1900s, restorations flows have been introduced in an effort to rehabilitate populations, build gravel/cobble bars, and provide adequate habitat conditions for different fish species.
This year I was able to participate in a high flow release of water on the Trinity River from the Lewiston Dam. This event was marked as the second highest flow released from Lewiston Dam since 1960, when regulations began here.
For several days, our crew made a series of intense boat measurements at the five gaging stations below the Lewiston dam. We started taking measurements at the peak flow and continued measurements as the release of water subsided and the current gradually subsided to its base flow. The vast importance and intensity of this project instilled a memory that I will never forget.
From here, I will continue to enhance my knowledge and skills working as a hydrologic technician through work experience, a variety of training courses offered around the country, and any new opportunities for advancement that arise along the way.
I am also back in school in pursuit of a bachelor of science degree with the intent of becoming a hydrologist. I am taking courses locally at Shasta College in Redding before I transfer to California State University, Chico, where I plan to graduate in spring of 2014.
I really believe the USGS is a great place for youth and students to look for a career because it is a well-respected scientific agency that encompasses a variety of career opportunities with room for advancement in the study of water, earth, biological sciences, and mapping.