Deborah Oaks shares her career in restoration ecology

Deborah Oaks ('08, Science, Technology & the Environment) met with students to share her experiences.

Photo of Deborah Oaks with students
Deborah Oaks (center) with students

Deborah has been playing on rivers her whole life and working to restore them for nearly a decade. In her earlier days, she studied on the Quileute River studying Japanese Knotweed. Finding the work rather buggy, she moved inland to the Snoqualmie River and worked for five years with Stewardship Partners to reconcile farms and fish. In her time along the Snoqualmie she oversaw over four miles of riverbank restoration and more importantly, made valuable connections with local communities and the land. As a result of these efforts, she has served on the board and remains involved with Sno-Valley Tilth, working across jurisdictional boundaries to ensure healthy relationships between farmers, ecologists and local governments.  Deborah joined Sound Salmon Solutions in January 2014 as their Habitat Program Coordinator, where she is expanding her work with fish, private landowners and governments into the entire Snohomish, as well, the Stillaguamish and Island County watersheds. She is driven and sustained by her passion for cool, clean, restorative water and her dedication to her family (both blood and otherwise) and this place they call home together.

Deborah imparted valuable advice to IAS students, including:

  • Employers are screaming for interdisciplinarity because the world is so siloed.   Interdiscplinarity fosters innovation and collaboration and teaches you to communicate specific skills across cultures, including professional cultures.
  • Know your network and use it.  Every moment is an opportunity to build your network.
  • Find a research position as a student -- or beyond.  It’s never too late to tap your network for opportunities, and it will allow you to test the waters and yourself.
  • Group work matters!  Deborah said, “Everything I do professionally is group work. My group projects in IAS taught me how to do this.”
  • Trust your own personal timing.  At one point in her professional journey Deborah realized: “The journey’s not over.  I wasn’t late. No boat has left."

Post archive