Employee Spotlight: Eric Michel

Employee Spotlight: Eric Michel

Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 11:00am

CONTENT: Blog

Eric Michel

RECLAMATION ECOLOGIST

What are some of the efforts you have seen already, or are important for the company to do, to attract a strong workforce wanting to work in a more innovative and technological space? 
I started working at Mosaic in 2007, just out of college. While I was in school, a representative from one of the local government agencies came to talk about environmental protections in the mining industry. The representative focused on the wetland reclamation that Mosaic does, and their role as an industry regulator. I thought the mining industry sounded interesting, and I was impressed by the scale on which Mosaic was doing land reclamation. The idea of working somewhere I could make a difference, and the opportunity to work for such an innovative company, is what led me to Mosaic.

When I first started at Mosaic, I spent most of my time using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze the reclamation projects I was tasked with managing. GIS takes a set of attributes and gives them a geographical reference. For example, Mosaic’s mitigation wetlands are shown on a map in GIS. I can view these wetlands and their attributes, such as when was it constructed, what type of wetland it is (forest or herbaceous), etc. This technology was relatively new when I started but continues to advance. When I started in the environmental field I used a cumbersome and hefty GPS unit for data collection in the field. These early GPS units were carried in the field in backpacks and weighed 20-25 lbs. They were used to collect GPS waypoints that could be uploaded back into our GIS software. Now, we have smart phones and drones to make data collection much easier. I just drop a pin wherever we are mapping and its done. Mosaic continues to push the industry, evolve with technology, and provide resources to support our efforts. 

Do you feel the company has given you opportunities to grow your career at Mosaic?
I had always kept an eye out for positions at Mosaic when I was first out of school. When a lab position became available, I applied for it immediately hoping to get my foot in the door. A recruiter reached out and said they thought I was a better fit as a reclamation ecologist and asked if I was interested in applying for that position instead. When they sent over the job description, it really was and is, exactly what I wanted to do. It was a combination of working with the regulatory agencies, which appealed to my interests in policy, and working in the field – everything from earth work to establishing entire wetland and upland ecosystems. It touched on all those things that when you are in school you say to yourself, “wouldn’t it be awesome to have a job like that one day.” It was very exciting and spoke to all my hopes and desires of what I wanted in a career. I was even more excited when I was the successful candidate and earned the position. 

Mosaic has really invested in me while I have been here. The company has encouraged me to continue my education and obtain critical certifications. Several years ago, I was sent to school to be certified to conduct prescribed burns, and most recently, I obtained my certification from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to become a commercial drone pilot. I have never stopped learning at Mosaic. I get to work on new and interesting projects every day and that is exactly what I wanted out of a career. 

How does working at Mosaic align with your personal passions or beliefs?
We live where we work. There has always been a culture at Mosaic that this is our backyard. We need to do the best job possible – not just because of policy, but because we want to be proud of our backyards. The best thing about my job is when I look at aerial photographs and can see the changes in the landscape that I helped to improve over time. I can see new tree lines, or because of improved hydrology, wetlands returning or forests booming for the same reason. Those are the kinds of things that you can toggle back in time and see the impact that you’ve made. It’s neat to know that not only am I making difference, but a visible difference. And to know that because of our reclamation work, we have parks like the Alafia River State Park, where our community can play and recreate with their families on the weekends. I’m proud of that. I feel like I’m helping create a legacy.

Eric has worked at Mosaic since 2007.