Meet the Team: Clean Water & GIS Manager Katie Hottel

January 24th, 2023

Each month, we introduce you to a member of the Upstate Forever staff through a few rapid-fire questions. This month, get to know Clean Water & GIS Manager Katie Hottel!

What do you enjoy most about working for Upstate Forever?
The people, for sure! Everyone at UF is smart, determined, and confident in what they do. It's a joy to work with such a collaborative and dedicated team of people who adapt to an ever-evolving organization so well. UF would not be the same without the strong team that's been assembled, and I'm honored to be a part of it for 10 years now. 

What does a typical work day for a Clean Water & GIS Manager look like?
While no two days are ever really alike, on a typical day, you can find me behind my computer with a cat on my lap and a latte on my desk. I call myself a "computer conservationist" because a lot of the impact I make is done through mapping; analyzing data and presenting it in impactful ways is really fun for me, especially as someone who doesn't particularly care for camping. Every day and every need is different, and I love the predictable unpredictability of mapping. Using a map to solve a problem is one of the most unique and exciting parts of my job and honing the skills to create maps that help secure grant funding or affect a policy change is thrilling.

What has been the most unexpected part of your role?
When I started at UF, I had a medium-amount of GIS experience, but I could never have predicted how much I'd learn over 10 years and that mapping would be such an integral role of mine. I'm largely self-taught which has been an adventure; figuring out how to analyze data in a certain way to answer a question is the most intriguing part of my job. The questions change and evolve with the organization, so I'm constantly learning new ways to present data on a map. 

Where's your favorite spot in the Upstate?
I'm a huge fan of public greenspace and parks, especially now that I have two toddlers running around next to me. Finding fun parks to take them to and run off steam is a favorite weekend activity. If I had to pick one or two, Legacy Park and Conestee Nature Preserve are both pretty high on my list — fun playgrounds, plenty of space to walk and run, and moments of quiet peace away from the hustle of the world around us.

What hobbies do you enjoy? 
I love sewing, and my favorite projects have been quilts! In the past two years, I've made 8 quilts with another in progress, mostly as baby gifts for friends. I'm a third-generation sewist, but the worst of the three, learning and improving one project at a time. I'm assuming that farmer's markets and coffee shops can't be considered hobbies, but I love those activities as well!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I never had any direction until I took an Environmental Sciences class in high school. That started me down the Environmental Sciences and Sustainability path at Furman University, where I took a GIS class and my interests were sealed. I still can't believe I get to do GIS and mapping for a conservation organization — my two true interests intersected into the most perfect job.

More about Katie

Katie Hottel joined Upstate Forever in 2013 with previous experience working for environmentally focused nonprofit organizations in the Greenville area. A graduate of Furman University with a degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences, she also holds a certification as a Senior Sustainability Professional. After studying GIS in school, Katie loves making maps for Upstate Forever!

Originally from Charlotte, NC, Katie fell in love with the Upstate during her time at Furman. In her free time, Katie enjoys exploring local restaurants and coffee shops, sewing, getting outdoors, and spending time with her family.

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