NRM Graduate Christy Cleaver Achieves Dream Job with U.S. Forest Service
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
The illusive ‘dream job’ is something that most of us have struggled to achieve since we joined the workforce. Those who have achieved this ambitious goal don’t mind sharing their path to professional happiness. Christy Cleaver is a Plant Pathologist with the U.S. Forest Service and a graduate of the Natural Resource Management program at Colorado Mountain College Leadville. She has achieved her professional goals, crediting CMC and subsequent professional opportunities for helping her get there.
Extensive Environmental Education
Like many traditional high school graduates, Christy enrolled in college fresh out of high school. She chose a major university, and quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated with large class sizes. A family member turned her onto Colorado Mountain College, where she discovered the Natural Resource Management program.
Christy graduated from Colorado Mountain College in 2007 and transferred to Colorado State University to complete Bachelor degrees in Natural Resource Management and Forest Biology. At CSU, she became involved in forest health research which allowed her to travel to 11 different western National Parks to investigate forest pest movement on firewood.
“Before starting graduate school,” says Christy, “I took a year off and did a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, backpacking from Georgia to Maine. What a life-changing experience!”
She started graduate school in 2011 and finished her Master’s in Ecology, with a focus on Forest Pathology, in 2014. During graduate school, Christy spent a summer working for a U.S. Forest Service Plant Pathologist in Alaska and knew this was what she wanted to dedicate her life’s work to.
These days Christy spends her summers in the field, traveling throughout Idaho and Montana. Her work in northern forests involves identifying and managing diseases through site visits, surveys and monitoring. Like many field-based environmental careers, winters are mostly spent in the office: writing reports, analyzing data, planning for the next field season and prepping for forest health education courses. Her work involves frequent connections with various departments within the U.S. Forest Service as well as organizations outside of the Forest Service.
“CMC’s NRM program gave me great perspective for working with multiple government and non-governmental agencies,” says Christy, “The hands-on classes and the NRM field internship gave me a solid foundation and knowledge of applied natural resource management of varying disciplines. Specifically, the GIS skills that I began learning at CMC have been invaluable.”
“I have achieved my dream,” says Christy, “a career that allows me to work outside doing something I love, makes work not feel so much like work. Now my goal is to continue to learn and grow in my current position.”
Reflections on Leadville
Though her environmental career has brought Christy around the country, she values the roots of her natural resource management education and treasures her time in Leadville, CO. Skiing at Ski Cooper, hiking up Mt. Elbert, exploring Turquoise Lake, and sipping lattes at City on a Hill Coffee Shop, are especially nostalgic memories.
“I miss everything about Leadville,” says Christy, “The mountains, altitude, people, location, proximity to hiking, biking, and skiing.”
Christy attributes her success at Colorado Mountain College to small class sizes, the connection between instructors and peers, the real life experience offered through the NRM internship, and access to outdoor activities.
“If you are looking for a program that provides real life, hands-on NRM experience, you will not be disappointed,” says Christy, “If you’re not sure where you want to take your education, starting at CMC provides a great foundation, and the NRM program will set you up to either start an awesome career upon graduation or to continue on with your education. Not to mention you will have a great time in the process and will meet some of your best, like-minded, friends for life.”