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Profiles of Members of EPA's LGBT Community: Sherry Banks

Profiles of Members of EPA's LGBT Community

Picture of smiling womanSherry Banks, Life Scientist
Office of Site Remediation and Restoration
Emergency Response
Boston, MA (EPA Region 1)


Where were you born?

I was born in South Carolina. I grew up in a military environment as a U.S. Army dependent and traveled extensively during my childhood. I continued to travel through study abroad programs, which shaped my character and world view. I have now lived in Boston longer than any other place in the world and have decided to call it my home.

What brought you to EPA?

I successfully began my career through the Student Intern Program while finishing my graduate degree. My internship focused on Environmental Stewardship, specifically the Water Technical Unit. I loved my intern position. I was able to go out in the field, assist on multiple projects and shadow others. This opportunity provided me with a great understanding of the different jobs EPA has to offer (not just science).

Describe the type of work you do at EPA.

I am a Federal On Scene Coordinator (OSC) in Emergency Response.  Part of my job duties include inspections, Time-Critical Removals, and emergency response work.  For larger scale responses, I can be deployed to natural disasters under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). So far, I have deployed for Hurricanes Maria, Sandy, and Irene; and a major flooding event in Minot, North Dakota.

What is your highest level of education? What was your major?

I have a master of science degree in environmental earth and ocean science with a focus on physical and biological oceanography.

When did you know you were a member of the LBGT community?

I have somewhat known since elementary school but I didn’t really have a full understanding until high school. I didn’t come out until college due to the area I was living in at the time. I met my wife right after Hurricane Katrina in our school’s  Biology Club.  We were both Biology students and passionate about the environment and  endangered species.  We are currently celebrating 8 years of marriage. I am happy to see more and more LGBT awareness and allies in schools and places of business. I even see tiny rainbow flags displayed on my fellow EPA co-workers’ desks.

What message would you like to send other members of the LBGT community who are considering college or a career in environmental protection?

If your passion and focus is in the sciences, I would definitely recommend applying for internship positions with federal, state, or local government or a non-profit organization. All of these groups work together to protect the environment and internships are a great way to find your fit.

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