Major: Environmental Science (ES)
Specialization: Water Science
Graduated: December 2014
My internship started with MAD Scientist Associates in April of 2014. At that time, if I had been asked whether or not I expected my full-time career to launch in the world of environmental consulting, I’d give a staunch and resounding “Not a chance.” After graduation, I was planning to move to the warm, sunny coast to scuba dive and conduct marine research for the rest of my life. I didn’t realize how rewarding, exciting, and opportunistic a job at MAD could be.
I’m Aaron Laver. I graduated from Ohio State SENR in December of 2014 with an Environmental Science major, specializing in Water Science. Since graduation, I have been employed full time at MAD as an Environmental Scientist as their Geographic Information System (GIS) and aquatic ecology specialist. Oh, and for the record… I still get plenty of diving in while on paid vacation!
For whatever reason, I feel the majority of employees are “broken in” at the company with an overnight excursion to conduct some sort of field work. I was no exception. I kicked off my experience at MAD with a four day wetland delineation in the Akron/Canton area. For those of you not aware of what a wetland delineation is, fear not. Google knows. The important thing to note from a personal perspective is that wetland field work often puts you in the middle of exhausting summer heat, a typical-Ohio blanket of humidity, 6 inches of muck beneath (and around) your feet, and all the in-your-face (sometimes literally) nature you can handle. I doubt I even need to say it, but I’ll clarify that from day one I was in heaven! Since those first days, I’ve become a certified delineator and conducted many more delineations throughout Ohio and surrounding states. Other field activities I conduct and participate in include mussel surveying, environmental education events, restoration and site enhancement planning, bathymetric and topographic surveying, and my personal favorite, ecological assessment and characterization. The thing I like the most about any field work is that it really makes you pay attention to and appreciate the intricacies of the biota all around you. There’s something to be gained even if your site is located in the middle of suburban Columbus. I try to leave every site having learned a new kind of plant or adding a “first-time life sighting” animal to my list. With that being said, it’s often times not the work itself that is so appealing, but rather the setting in which I’m conducting the work.
More on the nerdy side of things: I fell into my GIS specialization at the company by chance. I took just one required course on the subject in college. I’m so glad I got the introduction! As an intern at MAD, I found myself helping the full time staff with generation of the simplest maps and figures to be used in our reports. Over time, including many personal hours of learning QGIS and ArcGIS software, I found myself hooked to the technology, and I was quickly becoming the company’s go-to guy for all things that were map related. More importantly, I was learning how powerful of a tool a GIS can be outside of graphically representing field-collected data. Fast forward to today, and I never go into the field without first conducting a preliminary GIS analysis of the site. Two hours of GIS work can inform strategy and save the company hours, sometimes even days, in the field.
Even though I don’t have near enough time to share about my experience in depth, I want to stress just how diverse environmental consulting can be. I tend to get bored easily, so that’s one of the principles that I have grown to love. I’m always honing my craft, always trying new things, and above all I’m always learning on the job. At MAD, Mark and Chris (the owners) have created an environment that is conducive to creating top-quality products for clients while fostering each employee’s goals and aspirations in a way that brings both personal and company success, and for that I’ll always be grateful.