Goats, GIS, and Van Life: Unearthing a Career

Discover how Taylor Danielson, a Customer Success Data Specialist, combined a passion for GIS with experience bushwhacking through Mt. Rainier, milking goats, and coordinating fine dining into her work at Unearth.

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“They look like aliens! With their tiny ears! I fell in love with them,” Taylor said, laughing, of the LaMancha goats she managed at a creamery.

“I was a jill of all trades,” she observed. “I was doing herd management - managing everything for a herd of 100 dairy goats - and I was a creamery technician, processing milk and making cheese.”

That was four years ago - and Taylor’s proven herself a “jill of all trades” with more than just dairy goats.

From coordinating events with James Beard award-winning chefs to working alongside construction foremen, Taylor’s work has spanned the country and several industries.

Starting at Unearth in early 2021, Taylor’s already been promoted twice on her team and is excited to combine her passion for customer service and data in her current role.

“I’m so excited to be on this path! Where you stay in a place and where you stay at a career, build it up, and grow within that company. It’s not a position I’ve ever been in.”

Taylor’s journey began with her interest in sustainable agriculture and college major in Natural Resources Management - which introduced her to Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

“In studying natural resources, ecology, and forestry, I found GIS. And from the moment I started studying GIS, I was enthralled by it. I saw GIS as a bridge between innovation, technology, and sustainability. There are a ton of applications within natural resources.”

This early interest in GIS is the first link in Taylor’s story to her career at Unearth.

After graduating, Taylor worked for the Park Service at Mt. Rainier National Park.

As a biological technician, she loaded up a pack with survey gear and hiked dozens of miles into the wilderness to pristine subalpine lakes. Paddling a pack raft into the tranquil water, she’d take measurements with pen and paper and then pack it all out to the office for manual data entry.

Though the scenery was beautiful, one thing stands out to Taylor today: these water quality surveys were horribly inefficient.

Improving the way data is collected, transferred, and stored is at the heart of her current work on Unearth’s Customer Success team.

In fact, the Park Service’s inefficient water quality surveys inspired a pet project at Unearth.

Every new employee at Unearth participates in what we call Project Catalyst. It’s an opportunity for team members to explore our platform, OnePlace, and apply it to a new problem - whether that’s building management or staying connected during the pandemic. 

Across industries, OnePlace improves efficiency by streamlining data collection and sharing - and Taylor saw potential for Unearth’s software in her role at the Park Service.

“Here we are, nearly ten years later, and the Park Service is still using the exact same arcane systems. With Project Catalyst, I saw it as a great opportunity to shed some light on how our platform can be used for natural resources management.”

Check out the tools Taylor built in Unearth:

Significantly, Taylor’s college studies and experience with outdated systems at the Park Service aren’t the only parallels between her story and what she does now.

After the Park Service, for instance, Taylor took a job in environmental compliance monitoring at construction sites.

“I was there in my hard hat and my vest. I was just a little biologist hanging out with contractors and foremen on site. I had to read stacks of environmental permits, and I helped these foremen do their job.”

And when Taylor hung up her hard hat, her work with foremen wasn’t over. Years later, many of the people she supports at Unearth are in the industry.

“At that job, I learned how to work with our current customers and developed many of the communication skills I use today.”

Taylor’s next gigs continued to build her experience in customer service - from farmer’s markets to fine dining.

Enter: LaMancha goats.

“Through some friends, I ended up on a goat farm.”

And after two years “living that farm life,” Taylor bought a van and spent a year driving it 25,000 miles around the U.S. for a farm-to-table, luxury event company.

At vineyards, ranches, urban farms, and more, Taylor supported the logistics and service of $400 dinners with James Beard award-winning chefs and local fishermen.

During her seasonal work, Taylor also found time to pitch in at the family restaurant in Seattle. Whether building their website or transitioning away from a cash-only system, she was “very involved in the family operation.”

When the pandemic hit, the restaurant closed down and Taylor found herself in Seattle without a job - a position familiar to many in 2020 and 2021.

“Part of me wanted to go off and work on a seasonal job in Vermont. But I felt it was time for me to get started on a real career.”

Wanting to put her college education to work, Taylor started on the job hunt. She was nearly finished looking when she stumbled on Unearth’s job posting.

“It didn’t seem real. It’s everything I’m interested in. It’s GIS, the most interesting piece of my education. And it’s customer service, the backbone of what I’ve done. From the moment I found the application, I was like, I have to get this job!”

Taylor’s career at Unearth is certainly a shift from the last several years of seasonal work.

“I’ve never worked at a company with Slack. I’ve never worked at a company with a desk before. I’ve never had dual monitors. There’s no hay laying around. There’s no compost I have to shovel.”

But she looks forward to diving deeper into data within Unearth’s Customer Success team.

“I’ve always been a data nerd, that’s for sure. I enjoy dissecting a customer’s business requirements, defining what that data infrastructure needs to be, and determining how best to serve them.”

Taylor’s been living with friends or her van for the past year - and now she’s secured her first apartment and looks forward to building her career.

“I never thought I’d be back in Seattle; I’ve always been on the move. It really took the right opportunity, the right company, and the right group of people to slow me down and get me to stay here. I’m just very confident that this is where I want to be for some time. And it feels good to have that for the first time.”

Interested in your own career at Unearth? Stop by our job postings and see if there’s a fit for you. Don’t see anything? Reach out to us. We’re always looking for talented people as we grow our early-stage startup.