Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
What was your first job out of college?
Field Biologist, Arcadis
While working as a hazardous waste sampling program manager at an environmental engineering firm outside Washington DC, I met several field biologists responsible for stream, wetland, and wildlife habitat work. Until then, I didn’t know there were careers focused on these areas of the natural environment.
Why are you willing to serve on the Advancement Council?
I did not have access to very good education or career advice when I graduated from high school so when I went to college for my first undergraduate degree I changed majors several times before getting a generic business degree. I think it’s especially important for female students to know there are jobs women can enjoy in natural resources because it often turns out they don’t know of any women working in that field. I would be willing to talk to any female students interested in a career in a natural resources field (forestry, wildlife, natural resources, etc.)
How has your education at NC State affected your career and/or personal life?
I changed career paths in the middle of my life. To do it, I returned to school to get a B.S. degree in Natural Resources – Ecosystem Assessment at what was then NC State’s College of Forest Resource. Even though I’m working full-time now, in recent years I returned to NCSU for a dual Masters program and recently graduated with a Masters degree in my field and am continuing work toward a second Masters degree.
What is your fondest or funniest memory of school?
I was a non-traditional, adult student and was always the oldest student in my classes. I was always glad when there were students closer to my age in class. I didn’t feel so left out when everyone else was talking about their fun plans and I knew my only plans included studying and caring for my family.
Did you have one class that was particularly tough?
Yes, a graduate level statistics class.
What have been some of your biggest professional challenges?
It’s always a challenge to be a woman doing work in a field dominated by men, especially when the clients you work for are men and are used to dealing with men. Even in 2011, there is still a salary discrepancy that favors men when they are both equally qualified and doing the same work.
What are some of your greatest rewards during college or in your profession so far?
My work has taken me to many places across NC where few people would go, from the middle of cypress-gum swamps in Pender County to steep mountain side-slopes in Cherokee County and I’ve loved the plants, animals, and habitats I’ve been privileged to see first-hand.
How did you find your current position? Please tell us a little about your job and what a typical day is like.
I was working for a consulting engineering firm and noticed the NC Wildlife Resources Commission had a position open for the Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator. Since being hired for this job, I am responsible for the State’s wildlife conservation document and am currently working toward a federally mandated revision that will incorporate climate change impacts to wildlife species and their habitats. One of the best things about my job is that I get to work with many people who care about wildlife, habitats, and the environment.
What do you see as the most important issues that face your profession? What should prospective students, current students, and graduates know about the future of your profession?
Understanding how the various levels of policy affect the work you do: federal, state, and local entities have rules, regulations, and laws that will affect what you do. If you have access to policy classes you will find the information useful later.
What advice do you have for students considering Natural Resources as an undergraduate major or those thinking about graduate school in Natural Resources?
There are a lot of different ways to specialize your degree program, so think about what interests you currently and visualize whether that’s what you want to do over the next 10 to 20 years. Keep in mind that technology changes could open new doors in your chosen field. And always remember, you can return to school if you want to make a career change. I’m proof of a successful change based on returning to school to complete a degree for a very different field than what I had been working in.