Robert Wilson

Environmental Scientist | Chattanooga, Tenn.

“I'm a firefighter. I'm an emergency medical responder. I'm an Eagle Scout. I'm the spouse to my college sweetheart. I a proud daddy to my little ballerina and Cub Scout.”

Robert Wilson is a busy man. He’s also one who cares—about the environment, about his neighbors and about his family.

While he’s working his day job, you’ll likely find him in one of two places: Either he’ll be out in the field looking at wetlands, streams, archaeological sites, eagle nests or other sensitive resources that could be impacted by construction activities associated with TVA’s transmission system. Or he’ll be in his office developing plans to protect those resources so that construction can proceed.

At night, if he isn’t home, check with the fire hall in Red Bank, Tenn. Wilson could be out fighting a house fire or responding to car accident or emergency medical call. Since 2000, he's worked two nights a week as a state-certified firefighter and emergency medical responder.

Wilson says he loves both jobs.

“I grew up on a farm and developed an appreciation for the importance of taking care of the environment at an early age,” he says. “I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that my work helps to protect the Valley’s beauty, natural resources and recreational opportunities for us today and for future generations.”

An Idealist on the Job(s)

Wilson is an environmental scientist in the Project Environmental Planning group in Safety, River Management and Environment. He and his coworkers are responsible for getting storm water permits for construction projects associated with new transmission lines, existing lines and substations.

The goal is to keep the environment as pristine as possible, says Wilson: “Before construction starts, we look at all the resources on a project site and design storm water controls to minimize resource impacts— for example, silt fences to keep sediment from going into creeks or mats to minimize impacts to wetlands from construction vehicles. Then we document environmental concerns and protection plans in our storm water permit application.”

With 10 to 15 projects open at a time, it isn’t always possible, but Wilson tries to go back out to as many project sites as possible during construction. “That’s the best part of my job,” he says, “being able to see something I designed on the ground and functioning correctly.”

The best part of being a firefighter and emergency medical responder, he says, is the opportunity to help people. “It goes back to being in the Boy Scouts when I was growing up,” says Wilson, an Eagle Scout. “I learned the importance of service to others.”

Scouting also taught Wilson to be prepared—a motto that applies to first responders as well.

“We train hard and regularly,” says Wilson. “The initial fire fighter training is 360 hours. Plus, we train every other Monday for about three hours a night on different things, from climbing ladders to advancing hose lines.” The initial emergency responder training is 80 hours, plus 12 hours of continuing education every two years.

Wilson and his wife, Jessica, have been married for 12 years and have their three active children.

You can hear the pride in his voice when Wilson talks about his family. “Our son Jayden is 10 and into soccer and Cub Scouts. Our daughter Eleny is 7 and loves to dance. Our two-year-old, Iva, is into everything.” And they keep him busy—and caring—too.

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