Environmental Professionals Radio (EPR)

Small Business Opportunities, Nationwide Projects, and Vegan Eating with Jennifer Walker

January 28, 2022 Jennifer Walker Episode 51
Environmental Professionals Radio (EPR)
Small Business Opportunities, Nationwide Projects, and Vegan Eating with Jennifer Walker
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome back to Environmental Professionals Radio, Connecting the Environmental Professionals Community Through Conversation, with your hosts Laura Thorne and Nic Frederick! 

On today’s episode, we talk with Jennifer Walker, President and CEO of Watearth, Inc. about Small Business Opportunities, Nationwide Projects, and Vegan Eating.   Read her full bio below.

 Help us continue to create great content! If you’d like to sponsor a future episode hit the support podcast button or visit www.environmentalprofessionalsradio.com/sponsor-form 

 

Showtimes: 

1:17  Nic & Laura Segment
8:51  Interview with Jennifer Walker Starts
13:12  Small Business Opportunities
15:41  Nationwide Projects
22:55  Veganism & Travel
28:07  Policy & Field Stories

 

Please be sure to ✔️subscribe, ⭐rate and ✍review. 

This podcast is produced by the National Association of Environmental Professions (NAEP). Check out all the NAEP has to offer at NAEP.org.

Connect with Jennifer Walker at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferwalker-watearth/


Guest Bio:

Jennifer Walker, President of Watearth, Inc., has an earned reputation for bringing unique insights to projects, whether the focus is green infrastructure or gray. As a water resource engineer chiefly concerned with developing sustainable and resilient solutions, 30 years of practice producing foundational environmental documentation and master plans, nuanced and complex hydraulic and hydrologic models, and civil designs grounded in solid science and reality have prepared Walker to work on a variety of project types. Walker is widely considered an expert in stormwater, water quality, flood control, green infrastructure, hydrology and hydraulics, water resources, and complex projects with multiple stakeholders.

Walker has provided operations training and continuing education to more than 10,000 client staff and engineers the world over through programs at ASCE, CASQA, FMA, USACE, and Stanford University. For the truly sensitive matters of litigation, Walker has been called upon time and time again as an expert witness.  Walker excels in environmental science and water resources largely because due to understanding the value of niche focus. Walker and the adept team at Watearth provide efficient project management, operating within their expertise at a capacity and level of elegance that suggests a larger firm.  By understanding systems at both ends of the spectrum, Walker has routinely proven an asset to project teams in need of a nuanced approach that addresses upstream and downstream project concerns. 

Walker’s resume includes highlight projects across our nation’s geography. Walker has consulted at a principal level for more than a dozen years, with projects for major municipal clients in California and Texas carrying fees and construction costs over $22M. Walker navigates grant funding and regulatory policy deftly and will provide your project with the same on-budget and on-schedule success provided to clients like Los Angeles County, Texas Water Development Board, San Francisco Estuary Institute, City of Houston, Caltrans, and City of Austin. Walker is looking to the future and developing solutions accordingly. Walker is ahead of the curve at integrating climate change adaptation into projects and assessing cost-benefit.

 

Music Credits

Intro: Givin Me Eyes by Grace Mesa

Outro: Never Ending Soul Groove by Mattijs Muller

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Transcript is auto-transcribed

[Intro]

Laura  
Hello and welcome to EPR with your favorite environmental nerds Nic and Laura. On today's episode, they can discuss the differences between working in small and large businesses. We talk to you Jennifer Walker about owning a small business working across the country in veganism. And finally, if you lined all the planets up end to end they would fit between the Earth and the Moon with room to spare. Pretty cool.

Nic
Yeah.
How about that.

Laura
Hit that music

[NAEP Event News]

Nic
 
Alright, before we get to our segment today, senior leadership for NAEP is hosting their next Happy Hour on Wednesday, February 9, at 7:30 Eastern 4:30 Pacific, or Pacific as most people say, it's always a good time with it's always a good time with really engaging conversations, so please be sure to check it out@www.naep.org Alright. We appreciate all of our awesome sponsors. They are what keeps this show going Laura, I love doing it. And if you'd like to sponsor the show, please head on over to www.environmentalprofessionalsradio.com And check out our sponsor forum for details. Let's get to our segment.

[Nic & Laura Segment]

Nic
So we had Jennifer on she mentioned you know talking about large versus small business and that's something that you and I want to talk about today. So why don't you  start us off.

Laura
 
Yeah. So you know, the I was working with another company who was talking about we were talking about their strengths and weaknesses and there mentioning how they have a hard time getting the employees to be beyond the you know, that's not my job mentality. And we're a small companies you have to do a lot of things and I was like, Well, you know, for the right people, that's, that's really great. You know, like, you need, like you can approach that as a strength and not a weakness or turn that weakness into a strength or however you want to be by by really just saying like, acknowledging this is how it is. And what's good about it, you know, and I think too for the career seeker side, you also need to do that you need to know that when you go work for a big company. If you're not the kind of person who likes to do the same thing day after day, you might get into that because you might just be doing road work or you might just be doing field work or you know, like, and then I mean I got bored of doing repeated field routines. Being in the field was awesome, but doing the same truck run, same thing. You know, after a year, year and a half it's really repetitive you know, but when you work for a smaller company, you might get to do field work and travel here you might think it's really different but you also have to show up without the not that's not my job mentality. Right?

Nic 
Yeah. 100% You know, I've worked for big and small companies in my career. And you know, I think there's some nuance to it. If you're in a big company, there are jobs that do those things that do different things and your work in marketing is kind of repetitive in some ways, but you're also always hunting for something new. And so there's a way for you to do it. But it's not the same as being in a small company, because you're not just doing one thing new. You're doing lots of different things that's far beyond what you may have thought you were comfortable with, but it also exposes you to a lot of different things. And if you're not even sure what you want to do, it's a great avenue to be like hey, let me go work at a small company where I'm gonna be a jack of all trades and find a way to kind of help guide where I want to go, you know, and it would be harder it is harder at a at a larger company. Sometimes when you work in a unit or business unit at a larger company. That's your unit. That's it.  You want to work outside of that. And you know, every large companies are all a little different, but some of them are very regionally focused, like you will work in the South. You will work in the northwest, you know, and that's it. You don't get to do other things outside of that which is which is really strange when you have conferences that are very national, right? You're going to these big national conferences, and you're like, Oh, well, I work in the Northeast. So there's no point in me talking to anybody from Florida. You know, it really is odd to me, because the opportunities kind of need to be organic. And you can't force it relationships in you know, like, Oh, I'm in the Northeast. And so yes, there's more people you can meet there and there's more ways you could connect it but shutting off one of those for me personally shutting off a relationship in an area was tough for me. I'm like, I want to know people I want to get to like, you know, work with people I like I want that aspect of it more than I want. Where, it's very important to me. And I know that so that's what I went after.

Laura  
Yeah, I think it's great. And I think that's not my job mentality. Also in the small company, you might find that you have to do some social media on top of environmental work or you might have to do some filing or photocopies, but at the same time, you might need to learn a new software but you're also just being a team player. And on the flip side, you might get to go work on a project that is on the other side of the country, or just something new and different. So I think you got to look at the bigger picture of maybe today I have to do some office work that I'm not really thrilled about. But I'm part of the bigger team and I and that's some cooler projects that I'll get to have on my resume. And you know, if you decide that you've done 10 different things and you really love doing wetlands work, then your next career jump can be specifically into wetlands, you know?

Nic 
Yeah, and there's all kinds of avenues for you to take and you know, like, that's one of the bigger differences. You know, there's, like there's doubt to say there's no benefit to big business because there is there's resources in particular, you have far more of those as well.

Laura 
Exactly. You're not probably not going to have to do marketing or filing if you're in a big company and they have people doing that.

Nic  
Yeah, and you can have like, it's easier for you to go to conferences, it's easier for you to network, because the companies will pay for that in some pays some ways you have to kind of take that on your own with smaller, especially very small companies, but it is different, you know, so you just have to kind of keep your eyes open, and don't be afraid of one or the other to try.

Laura 
Also get so like this company I was working with you are at any time zero or one steps away from the owners, you know, and that's a huge benefit, like having access to someone who's been doing the work for 20 years who you could just walk up to in larger company may not ever see those people you know, or have to make an appointment six months out. So to get that you know, like so that you know, there's just different things to look at different benefits from it, but it's not a weakness to say that I'm a small company and we have to do a lot of things.

Nic 
And you know, big business. A lot of times you have more experts, you can learn a lot more of the leaders in the industry, you may have more than one. But the relationships I think are more important than really which company you're working for. If you have a great relationship at a small company, and that great relationship could be actually the owner of the company. That's fantastic. You know, that is absolutely great. I mean, you can have it in small but a large business too. It's just different.

Laura
 
Yeah, and I know people Carrie Kelly at  Flatwoods Consulting in  Florida, she started with them when they were five people, you know, and now she's been with them for their entire lifespan and she's just under the owners and there's also a lot of opportunity to grow with the company when you start with a small company as well.

Nic 
Yeah, that's true. And there's a sense of ownership and pride and where it goes, you know, yes, it's a big challenge. It is not easy. We have we've had people on the show that run their own companies. We have a lot of those actually. And those are all success stories in one degree or another but there's also some where that doesn't work out there's more risk. There. But it's a really good challenge for some people. And you just have to know a little about yourself to see if that's what you want.

Laura 
Absolutely. And you know for anyone who is a business owner struggling with that whole like, that's not my job thing. That's an expectation you have to start from the beginning. So again, recognize that that is how it is factual and that this is how we operate and set those expectations even from your job description, where you will be doing a lot of things. So then when that comes up, you can say, you know, when you get hired, you knew this, you know, like it may not even come up because it was part of the hiring process, you know,

Nic 
But yeah, but I think it's a great point, right? Make that part of the hiring. process. And again, I think there's always like a connotation to it, you know, it's like, oh, you have to do well, you know, it doesn't have to be bad. Some people like doing that. Some people like being doing the same thing. Every so many people like repetition. You want to find people that are happy doing that. You don't want somebody who isn't because then they're going to leave or they're not going to do a job as well. It's just you want exactly match up? Yeah,

Laura
 
Yeah, there's no point in pretending it's not that way because like you just said you're not going to get the right fit the right people.

Nic 
Yeah. And if you have somebody who's miserable, they're just not going to do as good a job. It's just the truth.

Laura 
Yeah, so you know, let's Jennifer has a lot to offer and talk more about her small business and I often hear the birds here, but I'm enjoying Hawaii. We'll pick it up on our next episode.

Nic
Yeah, there you go. Gotta love a good tease. Let's get to it.

[Interview with Jennifer Walker starts]

Laura
Welcome back to EPR. Today we have Jennifer Walker, President and CEO of Watearth on the show. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.

Jennifer Walker 
Oh, thank you, Laura. My pleasure. And thank you to you and Nic for hosting the show.

Laura 
Yeah, Nic sends his regards. He was traveling today and so not able to make it on the show. But he did insert some questions in here for you. So let's just start off you have an amazing career and the work that you do is really awesome. And I love that you own your own company here. So let's just talk about how you first got interested in becoming an environmental professional.

Jennifer Walker 
Excellent question. I think it probably started back with water resources when I was about 11. My parents basement flooded repeatedly when it rained and I was the one tasked with sweeping the water into the drain. And I got tired of doing it. So I thought let's figure this out and realize that the whole backyard drained into the window well, which basically then just flooded into the basement so I not quite environmental but I did dig a little swell and reroute the water out to the front yard curb and gutter. So that's the Water Resources part, the environmental. I've always been passionate about working in the environmental field. And when I was moving into college, my mother happened to be going back to school at the same time. And her physics instructor suggested that I consider civil engineering because it would let me work in both worlds engineering and environmental. And I said sure that sounds fine. I knew nothing about it. That turns out to have been an excellent, excellent fit. So I've always really, I think worked or had a foot in both the environmental and the Water Resources  [unintelligible 10:38] field.

Laura  
That's awesome. So it sounds like yeah, your civil engineering started at 11. That's really cool. And then it sounds like you're a natural problem solver.

Jennifer Walker 

Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that really ties together for me, my environmental work and engineering work is having gone through permaculture training, which is a system of sustainable design. It's you know, it's usually geared towards the non technical professional, but I think a lot of landscape architects and environmental professionals are drawn towards it. And that's really helped me integrate both the environmental work that I did early in my career which included wetlands delineation, which is fun not so fun in the hot humid, the Houston summers wielding the machetes, but phase one, the ESAs, NEPA type work and so forth. And so I've been able to carry that work into waters into the environmental and water resources. And civil work that we do, but also integrate the permaculture and a lot of the hands on experience that I have in that world.

Laura 
Yes, very cool. We'll talk a little bit about your company here in a minute, but looking back on your career path, and what advice do you have for students or people who are just looking to start their careers in water resources and like what kind of degrees should they be looking at or certifications?

Jennifer Walker  
It's gonna depend a bit on the person of whether they might want to go you know more the engineering route or the environmental route or related degree, like even geography which you know, a lot of our GIS professionals that work in the environmental field started out in geography and are able to do some really amazing mapping and database analysis. So think building on the person's particular interest. You know how much you want to work a little bit more, I think with the numbers and the math, you know, maybe more than engineering route versus there tend to be more field opportunities on the purely environmental side, but myself and you know, we have other staff who work in both worlds so there's opportunities either way but it's gonna depend on playing to the individual's strengths. And I would say the college degree in the field is a start, but it also opens up the door to, I think, make of it what the individual wants to and tailor a career in a direction. That's really of interest to them.

Laura  
Yeah, that's great advice. So on the entrepreneur side, what led you to starting your own business?

Jennifer Walker  
That's a great question, Laura. It's a time I was working purely in hydrology and hydraulics and flood control, which is a great field. I really love it. And I'm passionate about it, but it just didn't have the breadth that I was looking for wanting to tie back to some of my earlier environmental work and also a lot of the sustainability and resiliency that I was doing outside of work. I really wanted to bring that into our practice. I looked at positions that were out there, there wasn't really anything at the time that was a good fit in terms of where I was in my career and wanting such an integrated approach. And that's what led me to start Watearth if not necessarily at the best of times in 2008 /2009 the great recession was is a whole different topic, but here we are.

Laura 
Yeah, so that was many moons ago now 14 years you have this company and but specifically during that timeframe, like how did you have the courage? Did you have mentors or someone that inspired you? Or did you just take the leap?

Jennifer Walker 
A little bit of everything. There have been various mentors along the way I've gotten support from you know, different small business organizations like SCORE but all you know also even now is a diverse supplier. There's a lot of great programs out there, some sponsored by agencies and organizations. And, you know, for example, I received a scholarship from Wells Fargo to attend a program at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Similarly, yeah, similarly PG&E, sponsored myself to attend training at UCLA, Anderson School of Business. So that's all very helpful. I think it takes a lot of resiliency and persistence and not giving up when things are difficult. It's not the easiest career path, but it's been the right career path for myself.

Laura 
That's awesome. And now it's allowed you to to open some career paths for other people. And how many employees do you have?

Jennifer Walker 
We're right about a low 20s at this point. We're continuing Yeah, we're continuing to add staff and grow but we'd like to think of ourselves as Watearth been kind of a big DBE in the sense of we bring a lot to the table in terms of teaming with other partners.

Laura 
Yeah, that's great. What kind of projects are you working on?

Jennifer Walker  
We have a really nice range of projects. So you know, as I mentioned, we're doing a lot of work in Southern California for Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, and that ranges from stormwater capture projects to improve water quality within the watershed and region and those projects have everything from you know, environmental planning and permitting. They touched the CEQA process. Which is the California equivalent of NEPA, as well as civil design. We also have some watershed studies that we're doing with LA County Department of Public Works. In the city of Los Angeles. We've done a lot of really great water resources, water quality hydrology technical studies. To support the CEQA process, probably the two coolest ones were the LA Zoo vision or masterplan EIR which was a lot of fun. I got a super cool behind the scenes tour of all of the exhibits, and then also city wide support on hydrology and water quality for the LA sidewalk EIR, which is a big program to improve accessibility for the region. And then city of Austin watershed department is doing some really progressive, sustainable and resilient items with their streams. We're doing a lot of work on stream restoration, green infrastructure, you know, this projects they include our roles run the gamut from the environmental side, riparian assessments, touching, you know, biology and other aspects into more of the modeling and engineering design. And then city of Houston, some good work on a sidewalks program. This is a little bit more in the urban planning realm, but it's really multidisciplinary looking at improving sidewalks in specific neighborhoods. It addresses equity issues, which is a real passion of mine, both in terms of more trees in neighborhoods that have not had that kind of equitable distribution of infrastructure, but also looking at maintenance issues and infrastructure as basic as sidewalks Is there a safe path to get from a person's home to a convenience store or wherever it is that they're trying to go? So that's a really exciting, I think, groundbreaking project for the region. And then I'll touch on your neck of the woods with New Jersey American Water. We have a really interesting water conservation demonstration project. We're in final design, basically showcasing the use of native indigenous more low water use plants, and how consumers or their client base can help save water and improve the resiliency of the water system by making different selections. Yeah, yeah. So that's great. There's some environmental role on that in terms of permitting and stormwater erosion, as well as civil design. So many of our projects are really multidisciplinary, very integrated. And even when we're supporting, for example, providing environmental services on a project, it often touches the engineering work that we do.

Laura 
That's really cool. That is a wide range of projects and also all over the country. So how does a small company accomplish that? Do you go after the projects and then put people in place or do after projects where you have people? How do you make that work?

Jennifer Walker 
It's primarily the projects first, we have been fortunate to add some great new hires during COVID with folks working remotely that are in new geographies, but our markets city of Austin City of Houston area, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, those are big markets for us, where we do a lot of work. And so we really like to provide good service, good quality deliverables, working with the agencies or with our teaming partners. We do a fair amount of sub consulting work and so continue to grow in that way our newer markets as we get a project in a new area, we do try to build on that now. Historically, I did quite a bit of work in Anchorage right after I started Watearth. Yeah, a little difficult to get to in terms of marketing and everything else. So we're not not as active up there anymore, but overall, you know, trying to build on successes and areas.

Laura 
That's cool. Have you connected with Shannon Oelkers. She was on our program and owns a company in Anchorage, and you guys could partner up on some things.

Jennifer Walker 
And that sounds great. I have not but thank you.
Laura 
Yeah, you'll have to check out her episode. Okay, one more thing on your on the small business kind of topic because I was just talking to another company about this the other day, a company that was thinking about in their hiring how being a small business and trying to get their employees to understand that they're gonna have to work on a lot of different types of projects what they had seen it as kind of a weakness but I really feel like that, you know, for the right person, that's really a strength to be able to not have to do a stormwater project over and over and over, you know, but to do something in a different location or a different type of project. I would imagine that your employees get that opportunity to work on a lot of different kinds of things.

Jennifer Walker  
Yeah, that's an excellent observation, Laura, I think some folks may prefer to be very focused on certain things and that's going to be a better fit, most likely at a larger companies. It's a little bit more segmented. I've worked very hard on our org-structure to not get into silos. I mean, we've all had the experience with the big box retailers have, you know, you tell five different people the same thing, you know, nobody communicates and we're far from that but I'm really working hard that that not ever apply. So I think for the right people, the the working with a small firm that does a lot of different types of work. We Are Water Resources, environmental and civil and it's pretty broad for size, but it's also very focused. There are certain things we clearly don't do, we don't design bridges. There are other items that we just don't do. We would have teaming partners who could have could handle those. But we have great staff, our operations managers, our technical staff are excellent and part of the reason they're an excellent fit besides technical skills and meshing with our core values. Is that interest in working on a diverse type of projects, whether it be like you said geographically, or we may have an engineer who gets to step in and do more environmental work in the field or wherever, and vice versa. And I think that's really helpful, both for engagement. And also for skill set. But it's also extremely important in a small business, because we're not of the size where everybody can just wear one hat.

Laura 
Yeah, that's awesome. I think that's great. So people listening if you're looking for a job, that's something that considers whether you'd like to be an expert in one specific thing or if you want to learn a lot of different things and the size company that you're applying to you can make a big difference. Let's switch gears a little bit. I think you told us a lot about some travel that you do and Nic and I both love travel and obviously the snow that's why he's not here today. Doing something some fun travel. What's the most recent place you've been to have you been able to travel and COVID

Jennifer Walker 
My travel has been extremely limited with COVID I think besides Austin, Houston, you know, being in Texas and then also being in California. The most recent place I've been to was New York City and Hudson Valley area which was partly for work, partly together for wedding and partly for fun. So I slid in right before things closed back down again, which was great.

Laura 
Yeah, another perk of owning your own business and deciding where your projects are right.

Jennifer Walker
Right.

Laura
So when you travel, I saw that you like to try out vegan restaurants. Are you vegan?

Jennifer Walker 
I do love to try out vegan restaurants and I am vegan I have been for, I won't say how long but more than a couple of decades. So quite some time.

Laura  
Very cool. So I love to check out vegan restaurants too. I just had to beyond chicken the day it came out. At KFC I should say.

Jennifer Walker 
Yeah, yeah, there's some great new products out there. Now for sure. You know when I was in New York City I really loved P.S. Kitchen was very close to our hotel and just really kind of casual but excellent food. It was great. I would love to go back there. I think most recently in New Orleans. There's a all vegan restaurant called Feed which is just outside the warehouse district but also the famous Gumbo Shop and no, I'm not putting in a plug for them but they have some excellent vegan options there. So New Orleans. Yeah, New Orleans is such a great food city for sure. Probably my long term longtime favorite for several decades is the Millennium restaurant used to be out of San Francisco is now in the East Bay in Oakland. And I think is as long as we're talking more high end restaurants, Crossroads in Los Angeles, and Sublime in Fort Lauderdale area. So now I'm getting hungry. It's about lunchtime.

Laura 
We'll have to talk more about this later because I have my own list going and I have got my places I need to visit.

Jennifer Walker  
Yeah, there's so many more I just can't list them all but I really like the Happy Cow app and tend to look at that and depending on who's traveling with me if it's myself, that's great. I picked for myself if there's others with me, I'll look at you know either all vegan or good options so that we're all happy.

Laura
 
Yeah, it is nice to see that that's just becoming more normal. And comment on on a regular menu.

Jennifer Walker
Yes, it is.

Laura
And then along with the travel, you've had some really cool experiences. And I grew up in Florida. So I'm very familiar with kayaking with alligators. I've actually wakeboard in the Hillsborough River where you could see alligators so so I know what that's like. And if people are like, Oh my God, that's crazy. But you've kayaked with crocodiles, but that to me is a whole another level of crazy

Jennifer Walker 
To be clear when Yeah, when I was in Nepal, I think there were some risky things that happened that I didn't realize they were risky until after the fact so I guess there's no risk management there. But yeah, we had a kayak trip in the ship one or Chitwan National Park with crocodiles in there and you know, someone asked, Well, so are you carrying a gun or anything and they're like, Oh, no. We just wont capsize. It was it was a great experience. Yeah. And you know, we of course there were the crocodiles and gorgeous other birds and wildlife that we got to see. We did see, you know, the use of the river as more of like waste and other things, but then people taking drinking water right there. So it's, it was really mixed because I saw the state of the infrastructure and you know, how things were being done. juxtaposed with the natural beauty. I mean, also outside of the national park in Katmandu, some of the devastation from earthquakes that were somewhat recent at that time and just the crumbling infrastructure. So it was a great eye opening experience and I did see a lot of natural beauty, a lot of wildlife, elephants within sanctuaries, that also taking a hike and there was an elephant like right there across the river, and you know, jeep safari with rhinos, and it was a very cool experience.

Laura 

Sounds like it. Do you have plans to go back? Or anywhere like that?

Jennifer Walker 
No particular plans for Nepal. It's a really, really long trip and kind of hard to get there. But definitely have been pining to go back to South and Central America or Mexico and just kind of stayed was in the US was COVID. So looking forward to that changing.

Laura 
Yeah, for sure.  All right. We love to talk policy. So when I say when I say we, I mean Nic. We're gonna ask a question for Nick here. You're working in a city of Houston sidewalks. I think you mentioned it before. And I guess he would like to know that it has a potential to shape policy in a big way in the city. And I was wondering what sticks out about that project to you?

Jennifer Walker 

Well, what sticks out to me about the sidewalks projects with the city of Houston is, you know, there's always been an emphasis on flood control and flooding. And so over the past couple of decades and definitely sort of starting Watearth. I've been involved with regional flood control studies for the city, you know, looking at regional detention, opportunities for low impact development, multi use facilities, incorporating wetlands into the basins, that type of infrastructure, and then, you know, also focus more on you know, neighborhoods and residential areas, looking at solving flooding issues, whether it's structural flooding, or just like street and yard flooding. So that's been ongoing and that's been a priority. I think, what's new and interesting about the sidewalks is it's really a focus on now, as I mentioned, it's starting in a couple of neighborhoods that have not, I think, always had equitable access to trees and maintenance and other infrastructure. So that's exciting to be to see it approach from an equity standpoint, but then also to know that it is potentially going to set policy for the city and for other neighborhoods. And so we're looking at how to make the sidewalks connected. And it's not just a matter of you put in sidewalks Well, there's other infrastructure associated with it and then that additional impervious cover for a typical concrete sidewalk will require mitigation, at least from a stormwater perspective. So looking at, you know, green infrastructure, trees, you know, ability to help with the urban heat island effect. There's just so many different aspects to it, that are really exciting and I think will be good for policy moving forward.

Laura 
That's great. It sounds like a really great project that other people can model after. I like that. Absolutely. We're getting close to the end of our time here. So do you have any other like field stories or hobbies that you want to talk about?

Jennifer Walker 
In terms of hobbies, I think, probably my main hobby besides checking out vegan restaurants, just landscape photographs on the fly. And what I mean is, you know, what can I get with my iPhone that doesn't require fancy equipment. So, you know, I really love I've been taking film photos for my entire career, which spans almost three decades and then with Watearth is one of the things that I've made a point to do is visit a lot of different stormwater and natural features, especially green infrastructure and get photos. So I love landscape photos. I love sunrise, sunset photos, that's really a hobby and passion of mine. But I also Yeah, I also don't position and like try to wait and do all of that. It's more what can I get in real time and just try to make it look as good as possible.

Laura 

Awesome. Do you share are you just have your own personal collection?

Jennifer Walker  
You know, I share them periodically. We just posted one on LinkedIn actually, that I was able to pick up after a project visit for a design build project. So just kind of depends on the on the photo and the inspiration. Okay, cool. Well, now that we're connected, I can keep an eye out for those.

Jennifer Walker 
That sounds great. I think in terms of field stories, have an interesting Nepal story if you'd like.

Laura 
Yes. I love travel travel.

Jennifer Walker 
Yeah, yeah. So my mom actually went on that trip with me. It was a group trip and the story involves a jeweler. Obviously, we didn't get the Alexandrite she thought she was buying it was sapphire like alexandrites comes in find out back in the US. That's still a great story of a good bargain. But the jeweler invited us home for tea, which we did decline, but we did follow the jeweler into an abandoned dilapidated courtyard. Actually, my mother went first that I thought maybe this isn't so safe, I should hang back and make sure everything's okay. It all turned out fine. But I'll end it with working with the jeweler and the Buddhist painters to purchase some of the Mendala type paintings. So we were discussing price and it kept changing and the change kept changing. And finally I said, Look, I'm an engineer. You're not going to get me on math. So let's settle on this. And I'll pay what we agreed upon. So that turned out quite safe.

Laura 
That's good. Yeah, I've had a couple of those moments where you're like, Is this, is this a trick?

Jennifer Walker 
Yeah, did we did we really do this yeah. How do we back out without letting them know that we're backing out?

Laura 
Right? Or even just how do you make like a totally innocent person who you're just like, I don't know not feel bad.

Jennifer Walker 
That's great. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. out there. That's right. That's right. So I really appreciate the opportunity to chat and also in NAEP for hosting the show with yourself and Nic.

Laura 
Yeah, thanks for coming on and sharing all this information. I think the work you're doing is fantastic and the opportunities your employees are getting into sounds really cool. Where can people connect with you if they're so inclined.

Jennifer Walker 
I would love to connect. They're welcome to connect on LinkedIn. If you look for Jennifer J Walker, it should pop up or you can also type in Watearth. My email is JWalker, first initial last name at Watearth.com.

Laura 
Excellent. Well, thanks so much for being with us today.  And I hope to talk to you again soon.

Jennifer Walker
 
Wonderful. Thank you, Laura.

[Outro]

Laura

That's our show. Thank you, Jennifer, for joining us today and please be sure to check us out each and every Friday. Don't forget to subscribe, rate and review. Bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


Nic & Laura Discuss Working for a Small v. Large Business
Interview with Jennifer Walker Starts
Small Business
Nationwide Platforms
Veganism & Travel
Policy & Field Stories