The Water Log: Staff takeover and May event recap

June 10th, 2022
By Katie Hottel

With summer now getting started, our team is slowing down a bit after several very exciting and successful outreach events — more on those below. Events like these are a great opportunity to share our work with the community and meet some of you, too! 

For this month’s Water Log, we want to give you a glimpse into an average workday in the Clean Water Program at Upstate Forever. With this in mind, I am taking over the June Water Log from Erika to offer insight into my role as Clean Water & GIS Manager. Read on to learn more about me, a typical workday, and what keeps me happily returning to my job after nearly ten years at Upstate Forever. 

Katie Hottel
Clean Water & GIS Manager
Upstate Forever

A (work) day in the life of Clean Water & GIS Manager Katie Hottel 

At 7:45 AM, my husband loads our two young (wild) kids up in the car for school drop-off and silence washes over the house. I take a breath, make a latte, and commute upstairs to my home office to settle in for the day. Although my job brings many exciting adventures, my day-to-day routine stays roughly the same. 

After catching up with my team, sifting through emails, and making a list of priorities for the day, you can bet a good sum of money (or perhaps my next latte) on me finding my way to ArcGIS, a digital mapping software I could not function without. The cat finds her way into my lap within the first 5 minutes, and together we sit and map away.

My duties change all the time, but it almost always boils down to a map in need of creation: A landowner's prospective conservation easement, a specific area’s current water quality monitoring efforts, a high priority areas in most need of water quality restoration... 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 effect a policy change is thrilling. 

You can usually find a bag of M&M's or jellybeans next to my computer for easy access/mapping assistance, and yes, my team knows that maps in need of a quick turnaround can easily be bought with confectioneries of any sort. A lot of my time is spent on a computer, but other days bring landowner site visits, exploration days getting to know the watersheds we work hard to protect, and collaborative meetings with UF team members or other organizations.  

Katie and Clean Water Associate Rebecca Wade on a site visit, left. Monkey pays a visit while Katie works from home, right.

Time passes quickly when you're sucked into ArcGIS — 4:00 PM rolls around and it's time for kiddo pick-up. I grab one last jellybean and kick the cat off my lap. My husband always asks me "Did you save the Upstate today?" which invokes a smirk. But, seeing firsthand how UF works collaboratively both internally and externally to solve problems, address issues, and work diligently to protect the area we know, and love keeps me coming back happily every day!

May Event Recap

The Clean Water team’s May outreach events were a huge success! Discover Your Watershed on May 14 and Barrels and Beer on May 21 were excellent opportunities to check in with our stakeholders and promote Upstate Forever’s mission to protect drinking water resources.

´╗┐Here are just a few of our favorite moments at these events. Discover Your Watershed and Barrels and Beer are both hosted annually, so stay tuned for information on next year’s event!

Rebecca and Clean Water Director Erika Hollis enjoying Discover Your Watershed. Holding a rescued baby opossum was a highlight of the day!

Katie and Rebecca taking in the beautiful day at Magnetic South Brewery and fantastic art at Barrels and Beer.


Thanks for joining us for The Water Log, Upstate Forever's periodic newsletter dedicated to clean water issues and advocacy!

If you would like to receive The Water Log in your inbox or know someone who might like to receive this newsletter as an email, please send them to this link to sign up:

Have clean water questions or comments? Contact me at

Error Message