Designing and planning environmental projects within communities

Catherine Haar, Environmental Planner


Helping clients understand the full environmental impact of their projects, Catherine Haar is an Environmental Planner with RPS' North America Infrastructure group.

QHow did you get into your industry?

I interned with RPS (Klotz Associates at the time) the summer before my last semester of college and worked with the Environmental group. Then I got hired on to join the team after I graduated.

Quick Q&A

Which woman or women inspire you?

I’ve always been inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

What job did you want when you were growing up?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a meteorologist. I may or may not have been inspired by the movie “Twister.”

QIs there anything you wish you’d known – about the workplace, the industry you work in, the types of roles on offer, etc?

I honestly wish I had known about this type of career a little bit earlier on in college. I think making this type of career more widely known would really help college students who enjoy STEM subjects learn about what kinds of options they have when they graduate. I also wish I had taken a few classes on plant identification- it can be very tricky when you’re out in the field sometimes!

QWhy is this kind of work important? And what does it mean to you personally?

This kind of work is important because it is a crucial step in roadway design. The environmental clearance process looks at impacts a project could have on water resources, cultural resources, air quality, noise, and what community the project is located in. This is also an opportunity to receive input on the project from the public and that can be very valuable. To me personally, I feel like this type of work is important because you can be surprised by what you find in the field, and this can lead to making design changes to accommodate the field findings. You can do all the desktop preparation and feel pretty confident about what the area will look like, and still find something you didn’t expect to find. Doing that due diligence and presenting the information clearly is something I really enjoy about this work.

QThis year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Break the bias’, aiming for women’s equality and celebrating inclusivity. However, there don’t seem to be barriers for women entering consulting, ecology and similar roles. Why is this – what is this industry getting right? (And what else could it do?)

I think this industry does a very good job of being inclusive because of its focus on delivering good, detailed deliverables. No matter how large or small your team is, consulting feels like a close-knit group that puts the overall goals ahead of the typical biases other industries may have. There seems to be a culture of welcoming new opinions and I think that allows for women to enter consulting and feel like their voices are heard. As for what else it could do, I would say continue to be innovative and stay open to new possibilities and ideas.

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