Klon Waldrip (UNG '12) - Rockdale County Stormwater Department - Stormwater Infrastructure Specialist
The Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis (IESA) regularly features graduates from its Bachelor of Science in environmental spatial analysis (ESA) and certificate programs in its "Alumni Focus." Because our graduates are hired for public and private sector jobs and accepted to graduate schools at a very high rate, we want to highlight these outstanding students and find out what made their experiences at UNG so unique.
What does a Stormwater Department do and what does your role encompass?
The goals of the RCSW Utility include reducing flooding and pollution due to stormwater runoff as well as maintaining infrastructure, providing public education and outreach, and fulfilling regulatory requirements. My title is Stormwater Infrastructure Specialist and some of my tasks include:
* Inspection of pipes, structures, ditches and ponds
* Maintaining GIS data and providing GIS services to the department
* Providing assistance with the NPDES Annual Report
* Illicit discharge detection and elimination
What was your primary motivation for earning the ESA degree?
My original intent was to focus on environmental science, but after taking a few GIS courses I knew that I’d fallen into the right spot. Translating field collected data into formats that could be analysed and made presentable was fascinating to me.
Describe the most challenging or most rewarding project you have worked on since graduating that involved the use of geospatial technology.
I’ve been lucky to be able to work with an organization that works toward minimizing the impact of development on state waters and, by extension, the overall local ecology. I’ve also been able to create maps as volunteer work for organizations like the Athens Land Trust.
What are specific skills that you acquired in the program that have helped you in your current position?
I built the position I’m in from the ground up, meaning I needed to have GIS skills firmly in place. I had to know what software and extensions would be appropriate for the tasks ahead. I came to the department with more GIS knowledge than anyone there and I’ve been able to help them learn more about how and when GIS is appropriate.
The field work I was able to do while earning the ESA degree has been invaluable. The hands on experience I had with chemical test kits, colorimeters and probes allowed me to make educated equipment purchases and help guide policies and standards for the department.
Development of an academic writing voice has enabled me to author reports for regulatory bodies such as the EPD.
I’m honored to be IESA’s Alumni Focus! My degree perfectly prepared me for the job I’m in and allowed me to make close friends in the process. Some of the things that made my degree so valuable were the chances to work on internships such as the Chattahoochee National Forest project, the opportunity to interact with other students, the availability of the professors and the quality of the education offered. Thanks, IESA!
Thanks, Klon, for taking the time to answer our questions!