What professional hat do you wear?

I am a Wildlife Refuge Specialist (WRS) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Region 3. I work at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District. I am the District’s solo WRS.

With this position I wear a variety of hats, from management, to biologist, to maintenance; I work with private land owners, partners, and other agencies to restore and manage wetlands and grasslands in our Waterfowl Production Areas.

What does a day in your life look like now?

Every day is different from fire, to running equipment and removing trees, to seeding prairies, to doing the management and policy paperwork and coordination that comes with managing a Wetland Management District.

There's always something to be done, from tree removal projects, pollinator and outreach programs, coordinating and planning efforts, and maintaining the lands we have.

What inspires you to go to work every day?

I hold the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service to heart: I truly believe that conserving/preserving/restoring and managing our nation's lands for the American people is a lofty goal and a service to my country.

It is a career and job where you need to be continually adapting and learning. It gives me purpose and keeps me inspired. Plus, getting to work outside and have the fulfillment of getting my feet on the ground and to dream up, put together plans, and then act on them and see the results makes everything worthwhile.

How did your degree set you up?

My master’s degree gave me a better and well-rounded view of restoration and management. The classes I took taught me new management techniques, research skills, and technical skills that I use daily. From GIS, to establishing a grazing plan, to grassland monitoring, and working with a team with different strengths and weaknesses. I know that my degree has made me a better and more competent member of the team here.

What words of wisdom can you offer current students?

Never stop exploring and finding out what it is that you enjoy, that you are passionate for. There will be challenges but if you have your goal and you have your passions, you will overcome.

Also, it isn’t just what you know, it’s who you know. So strive to meet and upkeep relationships with others. They will be invaluable resources in numerous ways and will help you reach and accomplish your goals.

What motto do you live by?

Work Hard, Play Hard. Keep a balanced life, and choose to be happy!