College of Science

Department of Applied Environmental Science

Alumnus Leads Environmental Compliance Projects in Northern & Central California

Shawn Wagoner smiles in front of a wetland habitat

Shawn Wagoner, a Biology alumnus with ties to the former Earth Systems Science Policy program at CSUMB, has been engaged in his professional career since graduating in 2010. We recently touched base with Shawn to gain insight into his career in environmental consulting. To learn more about his professional endeavors, check out his interview below. 

What is your current position? 

I am the Wildlife Biologist and a Project Manager for Burleson Consulting Inc., a Terracon Company in their Monterey office. I specialize in procuring and leading environmental compliance projects that require reconnaissance and protocol-level biological resource surveys, environmental permitting, habitat assessments and biological compliance monitoring throughout Northern and Central California. My daily work schedule varies greatly depending on the time of year and what projects I am working on. I usually split my time between the field conducting surveys and monitoring, and the office where I am actively engaging in project management by supporting field staff, writing reports, managing budgets and fostering client relations.

A lot of my field work revolves around surveying and monitoring for special-status wildlife species that often require special protection measures during construction/infrastructure projects on the Central Coast. Learning the biology and ecology of these species is integral in finding the best ways to protect them while also ensuring permit compliance and project progression.

I am also actively involved with local conservation and environmental outreach. I am the President-elect of the California Central Coast Chapter of The Wildlife Society and also a Vice President of the Monterey Audubon Society.

Did your experience as a science student contribute to your current career pathway?

Yes, definitely. I think the hands-on, broad spectrum learning and experience opportunities made me well-rounded with a diverse skillset to succeed in the professional field. The opportunity to work with Return of the Natives (RON) at The Watershed Institute as an undergrad allowed me to gain knowledge and experience with the flora, fauna and habitat restoration practices on Fort Ord. Burleson won a contract for habitat restoration in 2011 and I was referred to them to apply for a technician job. The experience working at RON gave me a leg up on getting an entry-level position with Burleson, and from there I developed my skillset further to be where I am at today as their Wildlife Biologist and Project Manager.

What was your favorite course in the undergraduate program?

I really enjoyed California Transect. This class introduced me to the diverse landscapes and ecosystems found in California, and the two week field trip around the state was an invaluable experience that helped me gain a real appreciation for California ecology.

Are there any specific skills that you gained while at CSUMB that have helped contribute to your current success?

Gaining technical skills such as GIS and GPS and developing critical thinking skills are essential in attaining and progressing in the professional consulting world. I utilize GIS and GPS often for mapping, make creation and imagery analysis.

I am very fortunate to have attended CSUMB and earned my degree in Biology. I think CSUMB does a great job in setting up their students for success in their professional careers.


Thank you for staying in touch, Shawn! For more information about environmental consulting in our community, check out Burleson Consulting