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To the Service With Love: Why One Biological Science Tech Loves Her Job
Pacific Region, February 19, 2013
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Kira working with Kokanee Salmon around Lake Sammamish
Kira working with Kokanee Salmon around Lake Sammamish - Photo Credit: USFWS
Kira on an elk capture with state and tribal employees.
Kira on an elk capture with state and tribal employees. - Photo Credit: USFWS

I have a confession. I love playing in the dirt and mud; I love coming home exhausted and dirty from a hard day working in a river; I love going out and collecting information; and I love getting paid to work outside. I currently work as a Biological Science Technician for US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Lacey, WA, and I have also worked for the National Park Service (Crater Lake National Park and Biscayne National Park), several state agencies, and the private sector. My job makes me work my mind and body in ways that test my mental and physical endurance, and at the end of the day I always have something to show for it, be it information gathered, a new tracking or monitoring device placed, an invasive species removed and a native replaced, and/or a sore muscle to remind me that I worked hard today!

 

The field of science has allowed me to travel many places already and it could take me anywhere in the world in the future. At Biscayne, I was privileged to scuba dive on some of the most pristine coral reefs in the U.S., removing invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles), monitoring algae growth on coral heads, and documenting the population dynamics of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus). At Crater Lake, I worked to assess the chemical and biological health of the lake by netting and trapping invasive fish and crayfish, collecting water samples for lab analysis, and installing equipment that will allow scientists to monitor the lake year-round.


I currently work for USFWS. My job is to go out into the field and gather information for new and ongoing projects. The best part of my job is that I don’t have one set thing I do. Here is a short list of things I could be asked to do on any given day:

Work on the urban stream WRIA-8 project (collecting fish and habitat information),

  • Organize/fix/maintain field equipment,
  • Strap on my waders for a river survey,
  • Don my dry suit to snorkel for freshwater mussels or for a night fish survey in the lake
  • Collect fish for brood stock at a hatchery,
  • Collect genetic samples,
  • Bio-sample and retrieve coded wire tags (CWT’s) from adult fish and enter information into an international database,
  • Remove and relocate endangered fish,
  • Work in the lab, or
  • Assist other departments on projects they have going on

In short, my job is to be versatile.
I have a great feeling of accomplishment when I consider all the information I have gathered and all the organisms I have helped. You always hear “one person can make a difference,” and sometimes that is hard to believe when you think of how big the whole picture is. My job has allowed me to experience that one person CAN make a BIG difference! I see positive changes in the world because of things I have done.

I tell everyone to follow their dreams. I am living my dream.


Contact Info: Amanda Fortin, (503) 872-2852, amanda_fortin@fws.gov



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