An undergraduate elective changed Jaime Ritz Johnson’s plans. “I started in sports medicine and ended up in geology,” says the 1998Cal U graduate.

“My professor (Robert Vargo) was a fantastic person and mentor. He made me fall in love with geology, and that’s where I stayed.”

Johnson works as an asset development coordinator for Edgemarc Energy, a natural gas producer based in Canonsburg, Pa.

“I do all of the permitting,” Johnson says. “I am responsible for all the environmental permits, road permits, well and surface permits. If it needs a permit, they come to me for it.”

She also helps to determine the costs associated with drilling.

“Our land agents sign the leases, and then I go out to the locations as we site them to determine where we want to build the well pad. I help the company determine how much it will cost for permits and to get surveyors and environmental consultants out to the site — what it will cost to get a location ready to build a well site.”

Environmental erosion and sedimentation control, road permitting and pipeline construction are all within her areas of expertise.

Johnson has been employed in the geology field since 2001, spending a decade as an environmental consultant. She also has worked in the “midstream phase” of the oil-and-gas industry, or the processing, storing, transporting and marketing of the product.

At Edgemarc, she’s in the “upstream” exploration and production sector.

“We’re as mall company, so you need to know how to do everything,” she says. “Having a background in environmental consulting helps me to know the regulations and wha tour outside contractors are doing in the field. It helps me to speak on their level.”

Her career advice: Be versatile.

“It takes time to determine what you’re interested in or what you’re good at. You don’t know what’s out there, and you need a lot of different skills.

“People are in such a hurry to become a director or vice president. You have to earn those stripes.”