Kari Bigham was a typical Kansas farm kid: like any adventurous youngster, she spent her time fishing, fossil hunting, building forts, and exploring the banks of the creek on her parents’ farm just west of Marysville. When she thought about her future, Kari entertained ideas of becoming a park ranger or a meteorologist, but thanks to advice from her father and brother (a K-State civil engineering student at the time), Kari discovered she had an interest and aptitude for engineering.
“As a senior in high school, I didn’t know what an engineer was. Coming from a railroad town, I thought an engineer was just a train conductor,” she said. Later on, she realized that choosing to be a water resources engineer actually combined her two original career paths. Like a meteorologist, her work develops and uses models to make predictions; but, instead of forecasting weather patterns, Kari predicts the environmental processes surrounding streams. Plus, like a park ranger, her work protects and promotes the environment – all while avoiding being “bound to a desk.” According to Kari, her job provides the best of both worlds.