Diving In: My first week with NepRWA
Hi! My name is Chris Hirsch. I’m the new Environmental Scientist with the Neponset River Watershed Association; one week in and I’m hooked.
I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and in the past 10 years I’ve lived in 2 countries and 4 states. The one constant through all of that change has been ecological/ environmental research. I’ve worked on projects ranging from the heat tolerance of ants, to the social structure of wild capuchin monkey families, to improving the water quality of the Baltimore harbor and its tributaries. Needless to say it took a lot of trial and error before I discovered my passion for protecting and improving our aquatic resources, and I am very excited to now settle in the Boston Metro Area, and pursue my passion with the Neponset River Watershed Association.
Starting a new job is always a stressful experience but starting a new job in a new city can be especially so. I have a lot of experience working on water quality issues in Maryland, but everything is different here in Massachusetts. For example, In Baltimore there were two local municipalities we worked with, Baltimore City and Baltimore County. In the Neponset River Watershed there are 14 separate municipalities that we work with! Just getting to know all of the towns we serve is a fairly large task, and that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the topics that I was debriefed on last week.
Sarah Bounty, who has been the Environmental Engineer at NepRWA for the past two years, has been amazing in helping me transition into taking her position with the organization. She scheduled lessons and activities for every day of our two week overlap to help me get started on the right foot. In just one week we covered the Unquity Brook Assessment Project and stormwater permits; toured the watershed and attended a meeting of the Neponset Stormwater Partnership in Foxborough; reviewed the stormwater partnership and the upcoming MS4 permit; was introduced to the upcoming hotspot monitoring program and the Citizen Water Monitoring Network; and learned all about stormwater BMPs and federal grants. In addition, Ian gave me a new reading list, which consists of a stack of permits and technical manuals about a foot tall, and I’ve been slowly chipping away at it during any time I find that I don’t have anything scheduled.
We’ve covered a ton of information in a short time and I’m excited about working on these projects. It has been a whirlwind, but what I learned about the culture of NepRWA and about my coworkers was equally as exciting of a prospect. I am very grateful for Sarah and Ian taking the time to go over all of this with me, because I can’t even imagine how last week would have gone on my own. So here’s to the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and rewarding journey cleaning up the Neponset River.