Mary Kay Wagner, Nevada Project WET Coordinator
(775) 687-9454
(775) 687-5856

Mary Kay Wagner

Nevada Project WET Coordinator, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection

Mary Kay Wagner, Nevada Project WET CoordinatorMary Kay Wagner is the Project WET Coordinator for the great state of Nevada. Mary Kay was born in Kentucky, grew up in a small town in northern Utah, and then nested in Carson City NV, at the base of the Sierras to raise her family. She has lived in Nevada since 1991 and loves the wide-open West.

After earning a B.S. from Weber State University in 1978, Mary Kay began her career as a youth advocate for a tri-county juvenile corrections facility in Utah. She served with the U.S. Air National Guard for 6 years and completed an M.A. in Public Administration from Northern Michigan University in 1989 where she worked with the Kellogg Youth Initiatives Program in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

Since 1996, much of her work with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has involved water quality planning and non-point-source pollution management program using CWA 319(h) grants and contracts. Her responsibilities have included being the lead Nevada PWET coordinator for over 16 years, which has included coordinating and conducting water festivals, educator workshops, citizen monitoring events, and other environmental outreach for schools and communities in Nevada.

Meet Mary Kay:

"I get a lot of gratification from conducting workshops with our school and community educators. There is a saying that 'it takes a village to raise a child'; it also takes a village for communities to be environmentally educated citizens with stewardship.  With the coordination of effort and the engagement of many, I help bring awareness of the importance of stewardship and environmental awareness to our schools and communities. It is also gratifying to supply educators with supplies to conduct the PWET activities with their audiences.  Grant funds helps purchase materials like graduated cylinders, inflatable globes and posters, maps, reading booklets, pony beads, chenille sticks, pipettes and more. It is tremendously beneficial to equip workshop attendees with resources to conduct the activities they have experienced in the workshop.

Workshop participants continually request more in-depth background information on local water issues and watersheds. I coordinated a 2-day symposium, Waters of the Western Great Basin, that featured experts presenting on topics and concerns on their locale, but which addressed matters that relate to all watersheds in general, e.g., water quality, water management, stormwater issues, aquatic species, impacts downstream users, interbasin transfers & interdependence of water users, drought conditions and restoration efforts. We mixed in a tour of the Peppermill Resort’s Geothermal Plant, a picnic lunch at the McKinley Arts & Cultural Center and tour of the Center’s Low Impact Development (LID) demonstration project and best practices to capture and treat rainwater on-site. We also plunged into investigating macroinvertebrates from the nearby Truckee River.  I’m pleased to say it was a grand success!

Brian Crosby, our Regional STEM Training Facilitator, sent this Flickr site out to participants from the symposium.

I felt moved by this email I received from one of the symposium attendees, “Thanks again for an outstanding conference. I am already chatting with staff and volunteers about potential museum applications of the lessons learned. On a personal level, I noted that you were very kind to everyone at the conference—a much needed quality in today’s world.”  -Deborah S.

When it comes to a favorite WET activity, I have too many favorites to have just one.

My daughter, Hannah, is an avid ultra-runner and is very good at it.  We participated in a Grand Circle Series run through Bryce Canyon National Park this past June 5th.  I successfully completed the 50K course, trotting through the finish line.  Hannah, on the other hand, finished the 50Mi course as the 2nd female runner in and 15th overall.

I enjoy yoga, bicycling, swimming, backpacking, travel, and being staying connected with family and community."

Interviewed June 2015

New! So what do you do when you're not doing Project WET?

To decompress, I enjoy a reading, quilt making and ballroom dance lessons. I also enjoy an active lifestyle and succumb to weekly workouts with the Masters Swim program, yoga, hiking and biking.  Part of my personal training consists of hiking to the top of C-hill. From my house it’s an 1100’ elevation gain in 1.4 miles.  I hike up and jog back in 55 minutes.  I also enjoy riding the BMW R850 on Nevada’s open highways just about as much as I enjoy zipping out a 30 mile ride on my bicycle. 

Carson City offers wonderful recreation and hosted the inaugural EPIC rides event which is the grand slam for mountain biking competitors.   

Interviewed June 2016

Become a partner in the Project WET Network:  USA  INTERNATIONAL