Since she first jumped into a kayak just north of Philadelphia back in high school, Susan has combined her passion for kayaking with adventure, advocacy, teaching cancer survivors, and ultimately to her current role as an Engineer in Training. Teaching on China’s Yangtze River (today, the same stretch is under water) led to working with American Whitewater as the public liaison for Washington’s Condit Dam removal, and eventually to graduate school for a masters in Water Resources Engineering. Following grad school, she worked with the Chinese government in the development of a river tourism management plan within China’s first official National Park, SanJiangYuan, on the Tibetan Plateau, the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong rivers. “We worked with the government to develop a plan that benefited ecosystems rather than just control them,” Susan says. Interspersed with her work in China, she spent the better part of two years traveling the US in an RV with her husband and co-writing a book titled Paddling America: Discover and Explore Our 50 Greatest Wild and Scenic Rivers. Why? “We wanted to help promote the conservation and restoration of rivers and the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic River Act was a great platform to share that message.”
Today, in her role as an EIT, she’s focused on learning the technical expertise of restoration. “I want to understand the system, to be able to look at a river and tell the story of how it got there or how it could have gone somewhere else,” says Susan. Working side by side Inter-Fluve’s engineering staff, many who have worked here for over two decades, she’s rapidly gaining experience in hydraulic modeling, bank and channel stabilization, large wood design, estuary restoration techniques and more. She’s currently working on a tidal reconnection project in the Columbia River Estuary, fish passage and new channel design in Bellingham, WA, and floodplain reconnection and habitat augmentation in Idaho.