2021 Women of Distinction – Education
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Jessica Thrasher – Colorado State University
FORT COLLINS — Education has been the driving force and water the lifeblood of Jessica Thrasher’s career.
“As a student, I have experienced many “a-ha!” transformative moments that have energized me into pursuing new ideas or learning more about a certain topic,” she said. “I experienced one of these moments while achieving my master’s degree in International Development Anthropology from Colorado State University. During one of my courses, I suddenly found my true passion — water. This moment was the first step in my journey to a career in the water field.”
As education and outreach manager for CSU’s Colorado Stormwater Center since last November, Thrasher has educated more than 715 community members through stormwater certifications, training and classes. She teaches about rain barrels and rain gardens and developed strategies for getting the message out to businesses, nonprofits, municipalities and Latino communities.
Thrasher holds a bachelor’s degree in markets and culture sociology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a minor in Spanish, and a master’s degree in international-development anthropology — specializing in sustainable watershed management — from CSU.
“As an applied anthropologist, I continually look for ways to achieve community change,” she said. “Prior to joining the Colorado Stormwater Center, I started my own business, Headwaters Institute, and developed and taught rainwater harvesting classes after observing a lack of available resources on this topic.”
She also carries on that mission as director of community engagement at Headwaters Realty. She directs, coordinates and supervises five volunteer projects per year, administers and manages a grant program, expands and cultivates community and corporate collaborations, launched the Northern Colorado Corporate Social Responsibility Group in 2017 and presents at panels on corporate social responsibility.
Her list of certifications includes stormwater control inspection and maintenance, permaculture design, water harvesting irrigation systems training and stream restoration, and the aptly named Project WET.
“As I am creating the content for my classes, my goal is always to give people the tools, information and spark they need to make change,” she said. “Another critical component of my work is outreach and partnerships. Partnerships are an integral component of reaching new audiences and ensuring diverse communities have access to educational materials.”
Thrasher also served as corporate volunteer engagement manager for United Way of Larimer County from August 2012 to September 2014. She conducted volunteer project-management training, oversaw 30 to 40 volunteer projects per year, and was a Business Cares corporate consultant for developing employee volunteer programs.
“Water is a critical issue in our community and the world. Education is one of the best ways to inspire people to be part of the solution to our water crisis by letting them know that their actions matter today and for future generations,” Thrasher wrote. “As an educator, there is nothing better than seeing the ‘a-ha!’ moments. I strive to give the participants in my classes as many opportunities to experience this spark of inspiration as possible because you never know when an ‘a-ha!’ moment will change the course of someone’s life and lead to community transformation.”