Studying Environmental Hydrology to galvanize conservation and education projects

DJ - Erin L. Gray 2Drought in the American West has thrown water conservation into the spotlight. Average citizens are becoming more aware of water issues, and as a resident of Southern Arizona and a believer in individual advocacy and education, I believe that this cultural shift is long overdue. As water levels in Lake Mead continue to drop, Arizona is threatened by a reduction of its allotment of the water supply. My concern for the future water security of the Southwest inspired me to pursue a career in hydrology.

In speaking with aid workers, I’ve learned that encouraging active participation in water issues has had a real impact on the successful implementation of lasting projects. With community engagement in mind, I was proud to serve on the fundraising committee for the University of Arizona’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, planning and hosting events to help offset the costs of implementation trips. Such work helped fund projects in Marquirivi, a village in the Bolivian Andes, where community members were interested in building improved latrines and warm-water showers to help address sanitation issues.

It was because of my specific interest in water resource management that I joined UA’s Green Fund Committee, a group of ten students dedicated to the advancement of sustainable practices. Together, we review grant proposals and allocate over $400,000 annually to deserving campus groups dedicated to sustainability. I’ve found an added personal benefit in the discussion and careful consideration of each proposal that comes before us, giving me new insight into effective green efforts.

Arizona Project WET has been a way I’ve found to support youth education in the community. In this Cooperative Extension group, we use STEM standards to make water education relevant, giving teachers the tools to work with students of all ages. Our goal is that students will take this knowledge home, starting conservation conversations with their families. With APW I’ve had a chance to visit local effluent treatment centers, interact with Tucson Water hydrologists, and explore Tucson’s groundwater recharge facilities.

My college experience has been enriched by student groups and engagement. I aspire to remain committed to outreach and education as a hydrologist dedicated to the conservation of water. I plan to bring my passion and values as well as my technical skills to my future career. With support from the professional hydrology community, I look forward to galvanizing conservation and education projects in the Southwest and beyond.

We are proud to announce Erin Gray is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.