Welcome to Pro-West’s Staying Connected During COVID series! Meet the Pro-West team members who continue to collaborate and serve clients remotely, making sure we deliver quality service during a tumultuous time.

Meet Steve Long, a Senior GIS Technician at Pro-West, who has led a wide range of GIS data projects over the past 14 years since making a dramatic career change.

College: University of Minnesota and Alexandria Technical College

Degree: B.S. Agronomy, Certificate in GIS

Describe your route to the point in your career you’re at today?

During my first mid-life crisis I decided to go back to college, after many years working as a painter and carpenter, mostly serving Minnesota’s lake home snowbirds. I talked to a college professor about degrees that would almost guarantee a job. He said GIS; I said “whaaaat?”

While I was completing the course, 9/11 happened and I managed to get one of the few jobs available, working at a small firm in Fargo, where I compiled and georeferenced soil data for counties in North Dakota and Wyoming.

Three years later, I was hired by Pro-West. My first project was working on parcel data for St Louis County, MN, which began 14 years of parcel data development among many other projects.

Do you have a favorite project, or type of project?

We have been working with the State of Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation on what has become the Sage Grouse Project. This has been a multi-year progression of projects whose main intent is to catalog man-made areas of disturbance throughout designated habitat areas of the greater sage grouse.

The data created by myself and the rest of the team at Pro-West is used in modeling to help manage the habitat areas and ensure the survival of sage grouse along with many other sage habitat species.

It is rewarding to know you contribute to conservation efforts that will hopefully last a long, long time.

What’s been your most memorable career moment?

Being named Pro-West’s Best Dressed Employee by Pro-West co-founder Greg Proper. An honor I shall always cherish.

What do you like about working at Pro-West?

I like that fact that what we create will outlive us. The data we contribute to creating will be around a long, long time and will hopefully improve the lives of other people and other species on whose habitat we depend.

How have you adjusted to working at home since the COVID-19 pandemic hit? 

One of the high points is that I don’t have to live up to my Best Dressed reputation, which can be such a burden.

I like not having the commute, but I miss the comradery of the office, and having someone physically in the same room for support on specific project challenges.

And I do miss whooping others in ping pong.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?

I’m a hardcore outdoors enthusiast. About the only thing I don’t hunt is bears, and about the only thing I don’t catch fishing is walleyes – I let BABs (Brian Bjelland – Pro-West Application Developer) catch them.

What do you want to be doing in 5 years’ time?

Living, I hope. If that’s a success I’d like to live somewhere far from Minnesota during the brutal winter months, say mid-January to mid-March. Lots of hiking, biking, and turkey hunting.