Going Beyond What’s Expected: Mikayla Boche on Environmental Compliance and How We Can Do More
October 11, 2022
Mikayla Boche, who recently joined Ulteig as Environmental Technical Manager, draws on her deep love and knowledge of natural resources to set new standards in sustainability.
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota – When the stakes of one’s work are the prosperity and longevity of our world’s natural resources – the task at hand needs a special kind of person to look beyond protocol and address all facets of the problem. Mikayla Boche, Ulteig’s new Environmental Technical Manager, is just that kind of person.
Boche leads a team of environmental experts at Ulteig who are seeking to redefine the value of the environmental services they are providing to the firm’s clients. It’s no longer about checking off boxes. By fully integrating with every Lifeline Sector team at Ulteig, Boche believes clients can see the value of getting everything they need through Ulteig. No longer do clients need to go to an outside environmental services firm. Technical expertise combined with passion for the environment, plus delivering incredible value, is why Ulteig clients are increasingly shifting their environmental work to Ulteig.
“We, as consumers, are going to use resources,” said Boche. “We all rely on roads, electricity, water and other infrastructure to live our day-to-day lives. So, this raises questions, such as: How can Ulteig and our clients use our resources better? How is our project going to contribute to fighting climate change? And, how will our project be affected by climate change?”
Boche joined Ulteig in May 2022 after more than a decade of gathering experience in natural resources management. She’s held positions as an Environmental Planner at a competitive firm, a Biological Scientist Research Technician with the US Forest Service, and a Native Plant Community intern with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A Certified Minnesota Wetland Professional, Boche’s focus is on leading a team that analyzes all facets of the environmental, social, and economic impact of Ulteig’s projects. She ensures that projects not only meet national and state-specific standards for environmental accountability, but exceeds them.
“There is so much opportunity to serve existing and new clients with our environmental compliance work,” said Boche. “The phone has been ringing off the hook asking about what our environmental team can do. We are a small but very well-rounded team that cover National Environmental Policy Act review, wetland delineation and permitting, sensitive species studies, contamination identification/prevention, and water quality protection. If we grow a strong team around the knowledge we already have, I really believe the sky is the limit.”
A Wildlife Enthusiast Through and Through
Boche and her husband own a house located at the top of a “great big hill” in the midst of a forest near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. It is Boche’s greatest passion to preserve the land so plants and wildlife can continue to flourish. One of her dream projects is to work on wildlife crossings.
“One of the most fun tasks I have worked on was assessing the need, feasibility and design requirements for wildlife crossing along a highway as part of an expansion project. I was fortunate to attend a week-long training program in the Sierra-Nevada mountain range, where wildlife crossings are plentiful, and learned all about wildlife highway interactions,” said Boche. “It’s more complicated than just building a crossing structure. It’s about what species are in the area, where they’re crossing and where the collisions are. Just because you don’t have collisions doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem. It could be that a particular species has given up trying to cross a busy road, effectively fragmenting their habitat.”
“Once you figure out what and where the problem is, the right crossing structure has to be designed. For example, a whitetail deer will use a long, small box culvert,” added Boche. “But a bighorn sheep…they need a large, open structure like an overpass to be able to see everything around them because they’re paranoid that a predator is going to jump out and eat them.”
Boche’s extensive knowledge of natural resources came from years of diligent work and a fierce passion for learning. As an undergraduate, Boche showed interest in a diverse set of subjects. While she explored cultural anthropology, astronomy, and biology, she eventually wrangled her interests into a master’s degree in natural resources management, which she earned from North Dakota State University. In her own words: “If I could go to school forever, I would.”
“I eventually realized that I needed to get a little bit more practical,” she joked. “I knew that I wanted to be part of making sure that development and resource extraction was sustainable and followed regulations. For our clients, I’m always trying determine what the real problem is and what is the most efficient way to get the documentation done so that we’re doing the project right and efficiently.”
Finding the Perfect Fit at Ulteig
Boche was motivated to make the move to join the Ulteig team by a few former coworkers who made a similar move over to Ulteig over the past year or so. Their high reviews of the company’s culture and steadfast focus on renewables made the firm “sound like a really exciting place to be.”
“The work just feels different here,” said Boche, who also is a part of the firm’s Knowledge Management Committee. “The culture and the focus on sustainability and renewables is different from anything I have experienced. It’s not just something that the company just says they do. There is a lot of real activity around those values.”
When she’s not setting a new standard for natural resource management, Boche enjoys wandering the beautiful forest surrounding her home, checking out what mushrooms are growing, taking in the aroma of the blooming flowers and watching the frogs leap from one precious spot to another.
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