Dirt isn’t just dirt and water isn’t just water — they’re life sustaining elements. That’s what I’ve learned from working in soil and groundwater remediation. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I never thought twice about drinking water from the nearby spring or running around barefoot. However, in some parts of the United States, the soil and groundwater are contaminated. If a person ingests that water, or if a child plays in those areas, their health could be endangered. This is why I’m proud to be part of an AECOM team working to clean up environmental hazards and make these places safe — places where you can have peace of mind.

From a young age, I’ve always been aware of how my actions can impact my surroundings, conscious of the fact that we have one home (Earth) and we need to protect it. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in geology from James Madison University, I moved outside New York City and began working at AECOM on a chromium remediation site. I was part of the remedial investigation team for about 11 months, surveying the site by collecting soil and groundwater samples. Once analytical data was available, our findings were used by the remedial action team to design the excavation efforts. Having the ability to see the full project life cycle was very rewarding and also gave me a great sense of accomplishment — we were doing our part to protect our “home.”

I soon found my next opportunity with AECOM in Washington, D.C., working at the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. Having no experience with wastewater, I worked with a team of senior-level engineers to learn about the plant and how it functions. With the onsite knowledge I gained, coupled with safety, health and environment (SH&E) training, I joined the project’s SH&E team to develop Job Safety Analysis documents for the client. I once again found myself working on a project where we were converting a potential hazard into a clean end-product.

After being with AECOM for nearly two years, I know I’m moving toward my goal to better our world, one soil or water sample at a time.