Amy Wicks has been at the forefront of solving Florida’s myriad water quality issues long before it became a noted problem and, of late, a political debate.
With a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Florida, Wicks has worked statewide on several water quality improvement projects, from small treatments of wetlands to large cascading systems. A large portion of her work, going back at least a decade, has been in Babcock Ranch, the nation’s first all solar-powered master-planned community being developed in northeast Lee and southeast Charlotte counties. Although she doesn’t work for the developer, Kitson & Partners, Wicks has worked for engineering firms that work there, the latest being Kimley-Horn & Associates, where she’s the Fort Myers office practice leader.
Wicks is also the community engineer for Babcock Ranch. Her mission, to create a sustainable surface water system, includes heavy lifting, such as overseeing hydrological weirs to restore wetlands, and smaller details, such as curb choices to encourage more natural sheet flow of stormwater.
Although water is her work focus, Wicks says it’s the entire community plan at Babcock Ranch, from solar to other sustainably features, that drives her forward there. So much so the Wicks family, husband and three kids, are building a house in Babcock Ranch. They are renting there now while the house is built.
Another perk to her work at Babcock Ranch: working closely with Kitson & Partners Chairman and CEO Syd Kitson. "Syd’s just so passionate about this project,” Wicks says. “He just draws you in.”
In reflecting on her career, Wicks says her best steps, whether it was a promotion or projects, came from “doing the very best you can. Then a path will become clear.”
She has been with Kimley-Horn for five years, and in addition to her project work, she’s an office conductor for other projects and a mentor to several younger employees. “My career has grown so much, and I’ve been able to do so many things here,” she says. “I want to continue doing the best I can and helping others grow in their careers.”
ON THE RECORD: Amy Wicks
City of residence: Babcock Ranch
Employer: Kimley-Horn & Associates
Birthplace: Plymouth, Ind.
Years on the Gulf Coast: 15
Marital status/children: Married with three kids
Alma mater/degree: Rose-Hulman: BS in civil engineering; University of Florida: ME in environmental engineering
Where is the best place to network? Environmental Permitting Summer School in Marco
What's the best business lesson you've ever learned? You shouldn't want a job; you should want a lifelong client. Always think of how to best serve that client and [how] what is better for them today may not be better for them tomorrow. Let him know you are thinking about their tomorrow as well.
What's your top tip for being productive? Communication is key. You can't do everything yourself, so communicate with your partners, your clients and your team regularly to make sure everyone is clear on the goals and how achieving those goals are being accomplished and deadlines are being met.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? I feel like most of my jobs have been pretty basic, but the weirdest task: I once had to investigate why a person's downspout on their mansion, which had existed for over 10 years, all of a sudden started flooding their rooftop, and there were no clogs.
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Keep Lee County Beautiful or STEAM Society. It's a toss-up.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? I would totally be a party planner. I love planning all the little details that it takes to make a person happy. My favorite so far has been my daughters "Star Wars" birthday party when she was 3. It was epic.
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Traveling. With the "littles" (ages 7, 4 and 2), we do a lot of Disney Cruises because they cater so well to the little kids and allow us to still relax and explore new places as well. Our favorite so far has been our Norwegian 11-day cruise that went to Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Scotland and England. Our 4-year-old claims he made friends with the Loch Ness monster while we were shopping and still tells us all the secrets that the monster shared with him.
What's your favorite board game or video game? Cranium
What's the top item on your bucket list? National Geographic Galapagos Island
Where is your happy place? Jack's Branch Cypress Head
What's your favorite podcast? "Stuff You Should Know"
Who/what is your favorite musical artist/band? The Beatles
Who would play you in a movie about your life? I had to survey the office, and the winner is Scarlett Johansson. (We're going with the superhero theme here!)
What was your first album/tape cassette/CD? I'm fairly certain it was New Kids on the Block
What was your first concert? The Eagles Farewell I tour
What's one song that will get you out on the dance floor? Does "Baby Shark" count? (See above; I have 3 kids!)
What's your favorite karaoke song? No one wants to hear me sing.
What instrument/role would you play in a band? I did play saxophone. As it is attributed to my career, at this point I feel like I'm the conductor.
Please describe yourself in three words. Honest and results-oriented