Trace McKellips

Portrait of Trace Mckellips

It has been a long journey that has led me to the MES program. I started  out in South Dakota, spending my childhood rollicking in small town  adventures--playing baseball and the baritone, exploring gravel roads, sometimes traveling to the Twin Cities for big city fun. After my freshman year  of college, I worked as a political canvasser. It was a little jarring for my 19  year-old self to be introduced to how destructive industries can be to people  and the environment alike, often with government support. I returned my sophomore year and changed my path from business to political science, working to understand how and why decisions are made in our political system.

 After college, I traveled with my wife to Togo, West Africa with the Peace Corps. As a Natural Resource Management Volunteer, I helped facilitate the building of a reforestation and gardening center--a physical space where folks could grow food and seedlings to replace the firewood they used as cooking fuel. Returning home, I headed west to the golden hills of Sonoma County, where I worked in habitat restoration and water quality monitoring with the Sonoma Ecology Center for three years. My time there was extremely important for my professional trajectory, helping me see that these crucial issues of resource management and combating climate change are being fought at the local level. 

Sensing a ceiling over my head, I realized that I needed to focus on my education. I spent a semester taking some science classes that I avoided like the plague in my undergraduate years. And--who knew?--I loved them. This past summer I worked as wetlands monitoring intern for WSDOT mitigation projects, a great position for people who want to get acquainted with Pacific Northwest plant communities. My interests in the MES program are directed at finding solutions to the great balancing act of human needs and the needs of the planet, making targeted investments in securing clean water, protecting habitat and open spaces and transitioning away from our carbon economy. So you know, just the small tweaks to our decision-making that will save the planet.

I look forward to my role as an MES Ambassador and hope to share my experiences in the program and answer any questions you may have as I am able.