employees, families and friends participate in Duluth’s dragon boat race each summer

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Jennifer Koehler

Senior Water Resources Engineer

Hiking on the Fox Glacier in New Zealand
Jen and her boyfriend on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa

Growing up around the Great Lakes instilled in Jen Koehler a love of water and the outdoors. And it was her interest in math and science and a desire to protect the environment that led her to environmental engineering. However, it was her undergraduate research experience and a lake-quality modeling class that turned her focus to surface water management. She went on to earn master’s degrees in both water resources management and civil and environmental engineering.

In her work at Barr, Jen enjoys the process of discovery—studying a system and putting the pieces together to understand how it works (or doesn’t). That understanding, in turn, leads to possible project alternatives and solutions.

But success is more than just the technical aspects of the work.

“Learning how to communicate and navigate the complex relationships of the people you’re working with is a critical component in successful projects,” said Jen. “You need to understand history, background, and personalities. They don’t necessarily teach that in college, especially in engineering programs.”

Beyond the variety of challenging projects at Barr, one of the things she appreciates most is the ability to pursue interests outside of work.

“I’ve gotten to travel a lot and see how critical water is to other cultures,” said Jen. “When I was in Peru, I was amazed at how ancient cultures managed water in the Andes Mountains. I also hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. You could see how much the glacier has receded. When it’s gone, the villages around the base of the mountain and the nearby urban areas that depend on it for water will be significantly affected. I wish I had a good solution for the problem!”

When she’s not traveling, Jen spends plenty of time outdoors—whether it’s mountain biking in the summer; cross country skiing in the winter; or camping, backpacking, hiking, or canoeing whenever she can. She has even tried skydiving and whitewater rafting. And she doesn’t hesitate to bring her adventurous spirit into the kitchen.

“I rarely repeat the same recipe twice!”