Interview with Mark Silva
Watershed Ranger Naturalist II, East Bay Municipal Utility District
53 years old
Why do you “work for water?” What do you love about the job?
Water is life! I went to work with the water company to build a stable, long term career. I started with the water company as a gardener and with some sacrifice and good timing, I landed the Ranger job. I've always loved to work outside and to be able to maintain watershed land - it just doesn't get any better for me.
Tell us about how your educational path that led you to this career.
My education is minimal compared to the requirements for current new hires. I have many junior college units, mostly in horticulture and earned my degree at Hard-Knock-U. I'm constantly learning something new through everyday work and observation in my outdoor office.
What does a typical day on the job look like?
The best part of my job is the diverse scope of work we do and the different seasonal conditions we have to do them in. Every day there is a different task to achieve and very seldom is there a long term redundancy to the job. The scope of my job ranges from cutting or pruning grasses and trees and maintaining fuel breaks, hiking trails, and fire roads to fighting wild land fires and educating school age children on the importance of maintaining and improving our watershed lands.
What skills and training transferred well into your current career?
Prior to joining the district, since high school I worked in the landscaping field, both as an employee and as a self-employed contractor. I became very proficient using various power tools from chain saws to tractors and learned how to prioritize job tasks efficiently.
What is important about the work you do today?
I feel that on any given day, while I may only touch a small piece of the 20,000+ acres of our responsibility, at the end of the day I know I've helped better the preservation of the watershed land.
What are some of the more tangible benefits of working in water?
As a young parent struggling with self employment, I sought employment with EBMUD primarily to provide my family with steady employment and exceptional benefits. Over the years this has proven to be a wise investment and now that retirement is on the horizon, this has been a terrific and personally rewarding career choice for me.
Why should others consider working in the water sector?
Working for the water district gives back to its employees through the many benefits provided to us. One can set career goals and achieve them through the promotion process and inter-company job transfers. The vast array of jobs offered within the water district is endless, from blue collar to white collar and everything in between. I have met so many really nice people along my journey with EBMUD, employees, customers, and volunteers helping us maintain the watershed, it's a great place to work!