Planning and Environmental Coordinator
California State Office
You could say Erin is a native "desert rat" -- growing up in Yuma, Arizona, exploring the surrounding desert. Both her parents were involved in biology, her dad in agriculture and her mother as a junior high school science teacher. Summer family vacations were spent hiking, birding and "botanizing," instilling a love of all things living.
In the 3rd grade, at the Yuma County Fair, a biologist from Arizona Game and Fish approached Erin holding a gopher snake. She was hesitant at first, but once she held the snake, she was hooked. Soon, she had her own pet snake and knew she wanted to study reptiles.
While pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in biology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Erin spent her weekends hiking in the Grand Canyon and around Sedona. She worked at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming for two summers before applying for a seasonal job at the El Centro Field Office, monitoring flat-tailed horned lizards. "I could not believe my fortune," she says. "I was walking around in the desert, studying what I now believe is one of the most interesting lizard species of the Colorado Desert, finding all sorts of other wildlife --and getting paid for it!" She returned for another season after her senior year and stayed on to help with various projects.
2005 was a big year for Erin. She became a full-time natural resources specialist for the El Centro Field Office, taking on several programs (wild horse and burro, grazing, soil, water, riparian, invasive species, botany), she co-led the largest monitoring project in the desert with a 36 member crew in the Imperial Sand Dunes monitoring Peirson's Milkvetch, and she was given the opportunity to become a medical first-responder at the Imperial Sand Dunes. She was hesitant at first, but after the Halloween weekend, she discovered a sense of satisfaction in helping the many visitors at the Dunes. Since then, she has worked almost all of the major holiday weekends.
She began a detail as the acting NEPA coordinator for the El Centro office in 2007, taking on the Eastern San Diego County Resource Management Plan, and soon discovered the new duties allowed her to be involved in all projects in the office. She enjoyed the challenge of moving an RMP through the process and is now performing those duties at the state office level as a program lead for the planning and environmental program.