Name: Morgan “Mo” Stepp
Jobs: Water Treatment Operator for the City of Alcoa & Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
“My degree in Environmental Studies is being put to good use! I run lab tests on raw (river) water, finished water, and everything in between. I set chemical dosages based on lab and computer analyses, monitor plant operations, and ensure those operations are carried out in accordance with TDEC and EPA regulations. We provide quality water to the fine folks of Alcoa, Townsend, Walland, Wildwood, Eagleton Village, and other parts of Blount County. I love my job, and I love that I get to stay right here in Blount County!”
Hobbies: Hiking, playing bass, water sports, exploring country roads, and watching football and baseball
Years at Mountain Challenge: 2010-2014
How you got involved with us? Freshman Fellow and FRS 140 Classmate Lindsey O’Neal sent out an Email advertising that Mountain Challenge was hiring. I remember digging it during Orientation, and thinking, “They’re gonna pay me to do that? I’m in!”
Most meaningful Mountain Challenge experiences:
Meeting my lovely, artistic, & outdoorsy wife: fellow Mountain Challenger, Jennifer Deaver Stepp, Class of 2015. Thanks Mountain Challenge!
Getting a care package from my Mountain Challenge and Peer Mentor comrades in the Middle East when I got deployed halfway through my junior year. It was the first care package I received overseas in the Spring of 2012, and I still have the signed Redskins flag in my room. I will never forget that.
Hearing the reactions of international students on a GSMNP hike I led. That hike was made of awesome.
Feeding the Rat on the Alpine Tower and in Rock-climbing I & II. This is the first time I’ve ever admitted it, but I am somewhat afraid of heights. I just closed my eyes and powered up, and before long I was actually having fun climbing! Every single time I put a harness on I feed that darned ole rat, and every single time I climb I have an absolute blast (once my knees stop shaking)!
How it influenced your career: “Mountain Challenge solidified my desire to give back to the community in a sustainable way, and in a field I felt would make a difference. I get to do that now, and I’m so grateful.”
A funny story: On a canoe trip during Athlete Orientation, 3 “full grown” offensive linemen asked me if they could be in the same canoe. One canoe had to carry three, so I agreed, partly because I wanted to see what would happen, partly because water rescue IS my wheelhouse, and partly because, hey, it’s their experience that counts. About 50 feet from the dock, the canoe just kind of slowly sank. Once the water down flooded overtop of the sides, the canoe flipped to the amusement of all. The best part was that they laughed from the time they sat down till the time they made it back to the dock. I’ll never forget watching that canoe just slowly descend into the briny deep. Coast Guard Mo kicked in, and I towed them back to shore. Let’s just say a standard canoe rescue wasn’t possible with these guys! So much happy it can’t possibly be spelled W-O-R-K.
Anything else? Bruce must’ve told me I was fired about four hundred times, and never once was he serious. I loved it. It was just what I needed after six years of active military duty where I wasn’t allowed to quit nor could I be fired. It was a laid back “job” with like-minded people where I could show up in shorts, hiking boots, and an AC/DC shirt and my boss would just say something to the effect of:
“Momar, dude, that mohawk is ugly. Please wear a hat, you’re gonna scare the Freshmen, and seriously, nice shirt bonehead. I guess your staff shirt is? Dirty? So what! Smelling like sweat is part of orientation. Don’t worry, after a few years with us you’ll have more shirts. Well, have fun on the trail, and oh, by the way…. YOU’RE FIRED! See you tomorrow.”
BEST. JOB. EVER.