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Bill Becker: Finding his voice

Bill BeckerIn his more than 20 years at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Bill Becker has had to face city councils and other public forums. And while he knew his science, “I was really nervous about public speaking,” he says.

Not anymore. Over the course of the PSM program, Becker says his public speaking skills improved tremendously, as did his confidence. So much so that he now teaches part-time in the biology department at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1981, Becker says he had “just a smattering of knowledge” about plant systematics. The PSM program gave him a comprehensive survey of the plant kingdom. “I took every botany class offered,” he says, and that led to yet another career opportunity: consulting for Oregon’s Wild Harvest, an organic medicinal herb farm in Sandy, where he verifies the identities of nearly 50 herbal species.

Becker is still with DEQ and has earned a promotion since completing the PSM. “Science is a business now; it’s not just science anymore,” he says. “You have to be able to write a business plan and submit a budget for the science you want to do. To have expertise in both worlds is invaluable.”