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District professionals in STEM careers

Jessica Beach:
Love of outdoors, STEM subjects drew engineer to district

Following her passions for nature and problem solving brought engineer Jessica Beach to the St. Johns River Water Management soon after graduation from the University of Florida (UF) in 2004.

“When I went to college, I initially majored in natural resource conservation but realized I wanted to do more of something that ‘engineered’ or solved problems relating to the environment but would also benefit society,” says Beach, who started out in the Bureau of Environmental Resource Regulation and now works in the district’s Bureau of Project Management. “I always enjoyed my science classes — science, physics, chemistry, etc. — in middle and high school. I also loved being outdoors, camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, etc., and wanted to do something that combined both of those areas.”

Beach’s mentor and role model during both undergraduate and graduate school at UF was Dr. Angela Lindner, a professor and engineer. She inspired Beach to excel in the field of engineering.

As Beach completed her master’s degree at UF, she began looking for potential job opportunities. A family friend with similar interests in the outdoors and environment worked for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which led Beach to look into water management as a potential career.

“I really connected with the St. Johns District’s mission of protecting natural resources and ensuring the sustainability of Florida’s water,” she says. “I felt that was something that I could support and be a part of.”

As it turned out, there was a job opening for an Engineer II in the district’s Environmental Resource Permitting and Compliance Program, for which she applied and was hired.

Her job includes reviewing applications for proposed development, alongside a district wetland scientist, to ensure that the project’s engineering and environmental design meets state rules and criteria. In this role, she is also responsible for addressing compliance issues that may be associated with a district-issued permit.

“I enjoy working with the various people — it ranges from developers, engineering or environmental consultants, local governments to homeowners’ associations,” Beach says. “I also enjoy being able to help others, whether its assisting them in the technical review of their application to be able to expedite their permit, or to assist residents in understanding how their stormwater system works, or working with the various entities to fix problems with their system to help resolve drainage issues that they may have.”

Recently, Beach transitioned out of the Environmental Resource Regulation program and into the Division of Projects.

For young girls considering a career in STEM, she shares this advice: “As my mentor encouraged me, I would also encourage others to pursue your interests and passions. There is a lot of support in that endeavor as this field continues to become more diverse. You will always face challenges or setbacks of different types, but don’t lose sight of your passion. The reward of working in a field that you love can help you prevail those challenges. You can make a difference!”

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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
(800) 725-5922