Original Member Series- Eric Welsh
Born and raised in Northern Arizona, Eric has always been fascinated with the beauty and intrigue offered through National Forests and Public Lands. His interest in Geology grew after taking an introductory class at Yavapai College while working on AA in Business Administration; this inspired him to continue his education and enroll in the Geology Program at Northern Arizona University where he earned a BS in Geology. Upon graduating from NAU, he formed a consulting agency and began working as a geologic consultant with individuals and small companies looking to claim mineral rights or expand operations on existing claims by completing basic survey, mapping, and safety assessments on a contractual basis. After working with small miners in the Nevada desert, he was awarded a GeoCorps Internship with the BLM which led to his being contracted as a liaison with the Bureau of Land Management in the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program in New Mexico, assisting in their inventory and remediation project work as a geologic consultant. It is through this experience that Eric decided to change his consulting agency into a non-profit organization benefiting geoscience students struggling to find jobs due to lack of experience or contacts within the industry. It is Eric's dream to create an environment through GEM's programming where students can apply the knowledge they have acquired in school to the practical industry applications used by many leading geologic and mining companies before they graduate, giving those students a higher chance at landing a job in their area of study, post-graduation.
What do you enjoy most about being involved in GEM?
The thing I enjoy most about being involved in GEM is knowing that the work I do in the field as a geologist helps support the organization's non-profit initiatives. GEM has provided me the opportunity to do what I love while simultaneously impacting the community in a positive way. You can't ask for much more than that in a job, I have it made!
What were your feelings when GEM first started and being part of the organization?
The initiation of GEM both scared and excited me. I worked for two years as an intern and contractor with the BLM and realized that there were needed improvements to the hiring and training systems in place, but in order to create change, I had to work for two more years without any guaranteed income. I took that risk despite the fear because change was necessary, and I knew that I had the support of my family and friends to carry GEM through.
What kind of progress has GEM made and what kind of progress do you see GEM making in the future?
You will probably hear this a lot as these stories are published, but it is an important part of the narrative and our family business. GEM started at my mother’s dining room table. With the help of family, friends and the support of many in our local community, we were able to grow from the dining table to a multi-suite building that houses the main operation center for our many growing programs. I would like to see GEM grow into an organization that spreads across many states, incorporating AmeriCorps programming, professional development, and workforce solutions that help students transition into highly sought-after employees in career paths with the reputable companies and agencies across the nation.
In what ways does GEM feel like a family and what do you like most about GEM?
GEM is my family. Not just because it started with the help of my family, but because each and every person that comes into the fold with GEM becomes a part of my family. I think of the people involved with the organization as my family; I care for them, their happiness, their well-being, and their success. We all come to this organization as diamonds in the rough, and with the support and encouragement of our amazing team we polish out to be shiny GEM stones.