Christina Kuchle’s professional life has been nothing short of a whirlwind since her graduation from UK in 2011 with a double major in NRES and Forestry. In the first two years alone, Christina held three different positions in three different organizations. Her first two positions were in research labs; first in an invasive plant ecology laboratory at Indiana University, and the second in a molecular and analytical chemistry laboratory run by the U.S. EPA. Today, Christina finds herself happily working as the Northwest Region Scenic Rivers Program Manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, located in Finley, OH.

The Scenic Rivers Program is a partnership between communities, conservation organizations, private landowners, and all levels of government to conserve ninety-five river miles of the Maumee State Scenic and Recreational River and sixty-five river miles of the Sandusky State Scenic River, both of which are located in northwest Ohio. As Program Manager, Christina regulates all of the publicly funded projects that occur within one thousand feet of the Scenic River areas, like bridge construction, road expansions, and sewer line maintenance. In addition, she also manages the Volunteer Stream Quality Monitoring Project, a program that trains hundreds of volunteers each year to survey 150 designated stations throughout the scenic rivers and supply data for the agency’s annual Stream Quality Reports.

Being responsible for a wide variety of duties is what Christina enjoys most about her job; every day offers something different.  As she explained, one day may be spent teaching kids how to collect macroinvertebrates, while another may be dedicated to learning best management practices for reducing non-point source pollution. Whatever the tasks may be, Christina credits her classes in the NRES program for providing the background knowledge to take them in stride. Environmental Policy is one particular class that she mentioned because much of her job requires knowledge and application of the National Environmental Policy Act, which allows her to make recommendations on how to mitigate the environmental effects of bridge construction, for example. She also mentioned Forest Ecology, Geographic Information Systems, Soil Science, and Dendrology as being especially applicable to her career.

Having held three different positions in fewer than three years, Christina has knowledge beyond her years when it comes to the job market. Subsequently, she has plenty of advice to provide current students preparing to embark on their own professional careers. Her first piece of advice is to get involved outside of academia while still in school, whether it is community volunteering, working in a lab, or joining a club, it will all contribute to building your resume. Her second piece of advice is to be adaptable when entering the job market. The NRES program provides the foundation for this, but having proficient skills with programs like Excel or ArcGIS will certainly help. Her third piece of advice, and my personal favorite, is to be a good communicator when applying for jobs. This means being responsive and professional when communicating with potential employers over the phone or email. In addition, it means being honest with both yourself and your employer about unfamiliar topics, and taking the initiative to better understand those topics. But, if all else fails, at least remember her final piece of advice: “As you continue on with life, always make sure to keep a positive attitude, be curious and work hard.”


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