'Where Are They Now?' featuring SNR alum Chad Kelly

Chad Kelly currently works as a field environmental scientist for Terracon. (Courtesy photo)
Chad Kelly currently works as a field environmental scientist for Terracon. (Courtesy photo)

In the two years since he graduated, Chad Kelly has amassed a variety of personal and professional experiences.

"I returned home to Geneva, Illinois and started interning with the Kane County Forest Preserve District," Kelly said. "I spent the internship removing noxious/invasive species of vegetation, restoring remnant prairies, as well as conducting wildlife observations and trapping."

Upon completing that internship, Kelly moved on to a position with Fox Valley Park District in Aurora, Illinois as a naturalist/horticulturalist.

"With Fox Valley, I carried out identical duties and tasks as I did with the Kane County Forest Preserve District," Kelly said. "The fall and spring were the best with Fox Valley for the sole reason of being involved in controlled prairie burns – that was by far the coolest part about that job."

In May 2014, Kelly returned to Nebraska for an internship with Terracon, a consulting engineering firm with more than 3,500 employees in 140 offices and 40 states nationwide.

During his internship, Kelly wrote National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reports and conducted field oversight. Ultimately, he was offered a full-time field environmental scientist position with the company.

"However, this offer came from the Omaha office as well as the Naperville office in Illinois," Kelly said. "I chose to return home and continued working for Terracon. I am currently responsible for conducting Phase I reports, Phase II field work, as well as being involved in large-scale remedial projects across the Midwest."

Kelly, an environmental restoration science major who graduated in 2013, said the education he received at SNR enabled him to be successful in the working world.

"My SNR education prepared me very well for my career," Kelly said. "Looking back, I've found that the lab portions of courses have helped tremendously. Receiving hands-on experience with environmental field equipment made for a smooth transition into the professional world."

Moreover, Kelly sees the environmental restoration science becoming increasingly relevant and important.

"I have no regrets about majoring in environmental restoration science," he said. "It is a fantastic, stimulating program that will continue to do great things under Dr. Comfort. I recommend this program to anyone who has a liking or passion for environmental science and who doesn't mind getting dirty from time to time."

When it comes to the future, Kelly said his first priority is to complete the requirements necessary to receive licensure as a professional geologist. Eventually, he may return to school and pursue a graduate degree.

Kelly said that he advises students who may be uncertain about their career paths to stay focused and determined.

"For those who are unsure about their post-grad future, all I have to say is be patient," he said. "It took me two internships after graduating to finally land that 'dream job.' Try not to get discouraged while searching for your first job after graduation. Just remember – 'never give up, never surrender.'"

— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources