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District professionals in STEM careers

Allyson Burke:
Parents encouraged her dream to work for the environment

For most people, crossing paths with a large diamond back rattlesnake wouldn’t be the highlight of their day. But for Allyson Burke, seeing the large reptile while on a site inspection was a reminder of why she loves Florida’s ecology.

Of her work as a Regulatory Scientist with the St. Johns River Water Management District, she says, “Every day, being able to go out and see places that some might see as wasteland, such as swamps, and see different animals, is exciting to me.”

Her interest in the environment was piqued as a child. With a love of the outdoors, she never had any question that she wanted to become a biologist and work in an environmental aspect of the field. Her parents encouraged her dreams.

“My dad fostered an adoration for the outdoors and encouraged me as a child to learn as much as I could,” she recalls. “He was always outside with us, helping us catch lizards, which we would proudly display in pickle jars, name them and let them go at the end of the day. My mother was ‘green’ before it became cool. She taught me to love the environment we have and to protect it through the small ways that we can every day.”

Her experiences showed her that people can make a difference in the world, further inspiring her career path. “I would tell any young girl interested in the environment or science, that if it’s your passion, go for it. Working in a scientific field has opened my eyes to so many new and cool experiences.”

While finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida, Burke started working with Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection as a dock inspector. In 2012 and ready for new challenges, she was excited to take on the role of field biologist at the district as a Regulatory Scientist.

In her role with the district, Burke reviews permit applications to ensure there will be no ecological impacts from proposed projects.

Through her work, Burke provides a voice for the protected areas of Florida that might otherwise go unheard. “Navigating the business world of development can be challenging, but there is a balance to be found in order to ensure sustainability in the future of our growing state. As a public servant, I try my best every day to make good decisions for the people of Florida so the next generation, and the next, and the next, can enjoy its beauty.”

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