Written by:
Elaine Genest

Kelsey Costello

Graduate of Dirt Corp’s Green Jobs Program


Kelsey recently completed a green jobs training program that will allow her to
pursue a career that fuels her passion for creating sustainable, natural spaces for the community.

Q: Describe the personal and professional experience that led you to pursue a career in the green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) field.

A: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts during the 2008 recession, so jobs in my field were scarce after I left college. I eventually took a job in a local park focused on environmental restoration. Although I was always outdoorsy, this was my first exposure to restoration work. I learned a lot through hard labor, but the position ended due to funding cuts.

After a diverse career journey, including a stint as a truck driver and working in railroad operations, I’ve returned to my first love: environmental restoration. I recently completed a training program with Dirt Corps, which helps train and educate people for green jobs, reigniting my passion for creating healthy natural spaces and supporting community well-being through restoration work.

Q: What did the green jobs training entail?

A: This program, based in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, offered a hands-on approach to learning about restoration and environmental sustainability. It provided me with an opportunity to dive back into the field and apply my diverse skill set in a meaningful way.

The program included practical training in a range of projects like blackberry removal, plant propagation, and creating green infrastructure and drainage solutions, giving me a comprehensive foundation in environmental restoration. Now that I’m equipped with new skills and knowledge, I can’t wait to take the next step in my career path.

“Restoration work benefits the community and creates healthy spaces, rather than focusing on profit. It feels meaningful to contribute to projects that enhance natural spaces for everyone to enjoy.”

– Kelsey Costello

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being part of the GSI field?

A: The most rewarding aspect of this work is its contrast to my previous experiences in large corporations. Restoration work benefits the community and creates healthy spaces, rather than focusing on profit. It feels meaningful to contribute to projects that enhance natural spaces for everyone to enjoy.

As a parent, it feels incredibly fulfilling to contribute to projects that will leave a lasting positive mark on the environment. It’s heartening to know that my efforts today are helping create a healthier, greener world for my child to grow up in. This work instills a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the planet that I hope to pass on to the next generation.

I’ve also learned about the power of community activism in securing funds for environmental projects. I’m inspired by how community members advocate for necessary changes and improvements in underserved areas. I plan to join a local community action team to be more involved in these efforts.

Q: What are your aspirations for your career in environmental work?

A: My vision for the future includes designing impactful environmental projects that connect the community. A particular interest of mine is transforming neglected spaces into a functional and beautiful green area. I definitely see myself involved in projects that improve water quality in our area’s waterways and contribute to the overall health of our environment.

I also want to continue being an active community member to help shape the future of environmental restoration locally. The community’s involvement, especially in underserved areas, is crucial.

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© Kevin Arnold