Land Use and Natural Resources Instructor Maggie Townsley

Instructor Spotlight: Maggie Townsley

A vice president at ICF International, Maggie Townsley has completed hundreds of environmental reviews throughout California. In her 34 years working in the environmental field, she believes that engaging with others and sharing her knowledge is one of the most compelling aspects of her work. For nearly 25 years, Townsley has been imparting wisdom to planning professionals across the state as an instructor in UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s (CPE) Land Use and Natural Resources Program.  

How did you become interested in environmental work?

My undergrad degree is in geological sciences, so I always had an interest in natural resources and environmental processes. In a class project in grad school for community and regional planning, I was the only student who redesigned a roadway to avoid a tree. That really surprised me—and I thought how we need more people to redesign things to avoid and minimize the negative effects on the environment. I was hooked from then on.  

How would a student describe your teaching style? 

Very participatory! For continuing education, it’s important to include your students in the discussion because it is so applied and hands on. Also, when students hear other students, they are more likely to participate themselves and retain the information.   

What do you want students to take away from your courses? 

Students are taking time off work to be here, so I want them to leave the course armed with answers and new perspectives. I want them to realize that what they know is just the tip of the iceberg and to want to know more.

What are the necessary skills for someone considering a career (or career advancement) in environmental planning?

Obviously analytical skills—being able to look at and interpret data is critical. But also, good reading and writing skills will help you advance more quickly in your career. And finally, great communication skills—verbal, written and being as concise as possible.

Check out Townsley’s Upcoming Courses

Get real-world training in the latest environmental laws and regulations from industry expert Maggie Townsley. Check out her upcoming courses in land use and environmental planning:

What jobs or career advancement opportunities are available to those with a strong background in CEQA/NEPA? 

Oh, there are so many! If you are interested in working for local, state or federal government, there are positions open at all levels, from entry-level to heads of departments. Nonprofit organizations and consulting firms also hire and promote environmental planners.

Why is an education or training in environmental regulations important? 

Understanding environmental laws and regulations—including changes in them—will help guarantee that your agency or employer is in compliance and it helps minimize harm to the environment and legal challenges.

How will learning about environmental policies positively impact a student’s career?

If you want to advance within your organization or outside, sometimes you need to invest a little in areas that you are not getting exposed to in your day-to-day job, and UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education is a great way to do that. When I recruit staff, I look for job-related experience, but also education, and CPE classes matter. 

Hear more from Maggie Townsley, see what she has to say about what’s trending in CEQA and NEPA Policy.

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