Chemist is excited by the story that data has to tell about Florida’s water resources
Courtney Rickett confesses that she’s always been interested in nature, science and biology, but became keenly interested in a STEM career around age 13. It was then that a childhood friend too her to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.
“I remember seeing the animals and the people who worked to care for them,” says the Chemist with the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Bureau of Water Resource Information. “Learning about the rehabilitation of the animals and breeding programs to help preserve species, I remember hearing about shrinking habitats and I knew I wanted to work to preserve our natural resources and habitats not only for generations of people to come, but also for the animals that live in them.”
She adds, “When I was in college I took an ecology course and became absolutely fascinated with data and numbers and all the valuable information that can come from collecting data and properly interpreting it.”
Having started with the district in 2014, Rickett’s work today includes filtering, prepping and analyzing all of the Chlorophyll samples that come in from the field. “Because I previously worked on the sampling side of this process, I know all the hard work that goes into getting one of those samples into my hand,” she says. “As challenges go, I see it as my responsibility to make sure the samples are handled with integrity and we can obtain the most accurate data from the samples.”
Her efforts are used in many aspects of the district’s work, including helping scientists and leaders make decisions based on sound science. “I really love learning new things and I love the idea that the data has a unique story to tell and I am helping figure out what that story is, so that we can be the best possible stewards of the world around us.”
For others looking at what they want to do with their futures, Rickett says, “Look at every one of your experiences as an opportunity no matter how small it may seem. You never know what will be the thing that really sets you on your path. You never know what will work out to be the thing that helps you be great at what you do or helps you stand out in your field. Don’t give up. It may seem like a lot of work when you are looking at it from the beginning, but a rewarding and stimulating career doing what you love and making a difference is always worth it.”