By Denise Hawkins, USFWS
My interest in nature, wildlife, fish, and all things outdoors began very early with much time spent outside with my mom. She took us on walks, hikes, camping, swimming, etc. and made it fun and informative, always naming different trees, pointing out various birds, singing hiking songs, and generally instilling in us respect for the natural environment and also a very strong interest in learning.
This early learning led me to pursue college immediately after high school. I started at the local community college and was fortunate enough to be able to live at home, take a few classes and work two jobs. One of the jobs was as a lab tech at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which I learned about through one of my community college instructors.
Working in the lab. (Photo: USFWS)
This job made it clear to me that I really enjoyed lab work, and so after three years at the community college, I transferred to University of California at Davis to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. During this time, I began to spend time with my folks fishing and, although I have never been a true 'fish in any kind of weather' angler, I found that I really enjoyed freshwater fishing.
After getting my degree, I worked as a lab tech and was eventually promoted to lead the lab. I learned a lot about various lab techniques and ways to approach molecular biology.
But I felt as though something was still missing.
By Karen Miranda Gleason, USFWS
Although fire management has been an official Service program for barely three decades, fire is not new to lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the preface to his 1933 book Game Management, Aldo Leopold recognized fire itself as one of the five primary tools for managing wildlife habitat.
In 1931, Ornithologist Herbert L. Stoddard became the first researcher to establish a scientific connection between fire and wildlife habitat. He determined that fire played a key role in maintaining quality quail habitat in the Southeast. Other scientists followed in Stoddard’s footsteps. Much of this work took place on national wildlife refuges. Ecologists now know that more than 50% of refuge lands are part of ecosystems that need fire to thrive.
Early 20th century wildland fire management crew. (Photo: USFWS)
By Kim Flotlin, USFWS
It began with a tadpole.
I was three years old, and my mom insisted I take a nap each afternoon. (Although, I think it was actually my mom that needed the nap!)
Although I acquiesced, I wasn’t without power in this daily negotiation. I told my mom I wouldn’t nap unless there was a tadpole in a Dixie cup next to my bed.
So, one of my older siblings was forced to reluctantly take me to the nearest tadpole-bearing puddle about a block from our house. I’d take my Dixie cup with me, and my brother or sister would help me carefully scoop up one or more tadpoles into my little cup of pond water. We’d walk back home, and before my nap, I’d briefly hold those wiggling tadpoles in my little palm, loving the way they felt when they moved in cool, silky motions on my cupped hand, gazing in awed wonder at how their wet skin reflected the light. To my three-year-old eyes, they were beautiful.
I was hooked. I was a wildlife biologist in the making.
(Photo: Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS)
By Brynn Walling, USFWS
In Maine, the Penobscot Indian Nation has close ties to its land--sharing a name with a well-known river in the region. Not only is the Penobscot River the backbone of the Tribe, it’s also home to the federally endangered Atlantic salmon.
Working in the Penobscot River. (Photo: USFWS)
The longest river in the state, the Penobscot once flowed 100 miles through the North Woods to the sea. Over 200 years and 100 dams later, much has changed.
By Jennifer Von Bargen, USFWS
Why I do what I do? The simple answer … God. He has given me the drive, passion and opportunity for learning about the intricate and complicated systems of science.
As a kid I loved animals and learning about the world we live in. I had dreams of becoming a veterinarian to help and be with animals. My family went fishing often in the summers and my father was an avid hunter. I loved helping him clean the fish and learn about their inner secrets. What they were eating, where it went, and how it all worked together.
Working in the lab. (Photo: USFWS)
Then in my ninth grade biology class my future was sealed. I learned about the one thing that links all living things together ... DNA!
From there on I was hooked!
By Megan T. Cook, USFWS
Like many of us in the field, my journey to becoming a wildlife biologist and scientist began as a kid and developed with the help of fantastic teachers and mentors throughout my life.
I grew up in urbanized Stockton, California, but my family spent every summer camping at the beach and in the mountains. When I was younger, I used to let slugs from our backyard crawl all over my hands. I also remember literally embracing a boa constrictor at a local zoo.
Even as a kid I went for the slimy and scaly!
My mom was a science resource teacher, so curiosity about the natural world was always present and seemed completely normal to me. My high school biology teacher also took us on great field trips to the redwoods and tidepools
But my career in wildlife conservation actually started with math.
I get up close and personal with a green sea turtle near the San Diego Bay. (Photo: Megan Cook/USFWS)
By Jeff Lucas, USFWS
It was a cool, crisp morning on the Upper Mississippi River NWFR in Illinois.
For years, Federal Wildlife Officer Darryn Witt had heard about a group of waterfowl hunters taking over-limits of ducks in a remote area of the Refuge.
On this day, along with his partner, Federal Wildlife Canine Rudi, Officer Witt sat up on a vantage point hoping to finally get a glimpse of this elusive hunting party that he had heard so much about. On this day, Officer Witt and Rudi were in the right place at the right time.
Rudi helped Officer Witt find this stash of ducks. (Photo: USFWS)
Officer Witt observed two hunters shoot 18 ducks. On two separate occasions the hunters left the marsh to hide their take into the woods nearby and return for more. The daily limit is 6 ducks.
By Brynn Walling, USFWS
Most activities are more fun when done in a group, including conservation!
This is why we’ve partnered up with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and several sand and mining companies, including Western Sand & Gravel Co., Lyman-Richey Corporation, and Old Castle Materials Midwest Co.
This collaboration is helping a variety of species, including the federally endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover.
The piping plover. (Photo: Bill Byrne/USFWS)
Whew! The students at the Boise-Eliot/Humbolt School in Oregon have been busy!
The hundreds of eggs in their tank have hatched and the students have been able to observe salmon fry and integrate them into their classroom lessons.
The eggs have hatched! (Photo: USFWS)
We first told you about this one-of-a-kind learning experience back in January.