Pursuing the ‘Next Big Thing’

February 1, 2020

Kerri Wright is a recent graduate (2019) who holds a Masters of Science in Environmental Policy and Regulation. Currently, she’s a project scientist with Walden Environmental Engineering LLC, right here in the Hudson Valley. Kerri earned an undergraduate degree in Business Management and Administration from Empire State College and has “experience working in environmental regulatory compliance; property easements and grants; hazardous waste handling and reporting; stormwater management and field sampling,” she noted.

Kerri was also a volunteer/intern with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust in 2016/17. As part of a series of Q&As with supporters, volunteers, and former interns, Kerri reflects back on her experience with the WVLT and how it shaped her experience.

What was your experience like as an intern for the WVLT? What was a typical workday like?

Kerri: My days always began by being greeted with friendly smiles with Mel and Christie and of course her adorable pups. A typical workday at the office on Huguenot Street began reviewing the legal documents and preparing property easement documents and reports. The afternoons would include trail maintenance and management such as invasive species and garbage pick-up.

How did your coursework inform the intern work for the WVLT?

Kerri: When I was at the WVLT my coursework related to intern work in several ways. I was just starting my degree so we begin with Research and Development and Environmental Principles. These foundation classes had given me the ability to understand how infinite the environmental industry can be.

The WVLT enlightened me on so much, from fundraising and benefits to trail maintenance and management of different invasive species in our community. The experience at WVLT reflected throughout my curriculum as I would use the experience and skills, I acquired during that time to complete many assignments!

What were some of the challenges you faced as an intern, and how did it help you grow?

Kerri: Any of the challenges I faced were very minimal. The internship helped me grow by understanding the importance of property easements and preservation of especially in Ulster County. The internship provided a foundation of knowledge on how to protect and preserve beautiful property and wildlife.

Do you have or had mentors? What role do they play in your career?

Kerri: My sister has been my biggest mentor in pursuing my career as a young woman determined to make a difference. She has taught me from the beginning of my education that perseverance, passion and dedication is what I needed to succeed. Mel and Christie were also influencing as I witnessed how important their role in the community and the environment are. Their passion to conservation ignited my drive to complete my degree and continue to pursue my career in environmental services.

My Project Manager and other advisors within Walden have taught me so much about the field. Being involved with a strong and dedicated team is the best opportunity for my career I could have asked for.

Can you briefly describe your current work? What is a typical day like in your current role?

Kerri: Currently, I work as a Project Scientist with Walden Environmental Engineering LLC in the Hudson Valley including New Paltz! I work in the field performing air monitoring, soil sampling and even assessing wetlands. Currently, I assist in the administration of the Town of New Paltz Stormwater Management Plans under my Project Manager, Ted Nitza.

We have also been working with the Town on the new Solar Panel development on the landfill to improve the community with renewable energy infrastructure.

If you could travel back in time and offer your younger, college-bound self some career/education/life advice, what would you say?

Kerri: One thing I would change would be to pursue my goals far earlier than I waited for. I decided to complete my undergrad with a Business Management degree, although it has helped me immensely, Environmental Services is where my passion has always been. I pursued my Graduate Degree in Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Denver where I graduated in August of 2019.

My best advice would be never stop chasing your goals and always pursue the next big thing!