Employee in the Spotlight:
Jeramie Strickland works in the Midwest Region's National Wildlife Refuge Program as a Wildlife Biologist.
Jeramie Strickland, a Wildlife Biologist in the Service’s Midwest Region at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson, Illinois, isn’t shy about relaying how his love for the outdoors and nature spared him from an uncertain future. Jeramie grew up in one of Chicago’s disadvantaged areas, where the negative influences of gang violence and drug trafficking proliferated the streets. However, he was determined not to become yet another statistic so, with the guidance and support of his family and through his involvement with his community and his church, Jeramie remained focused on his educational and professional pursuits. As a result, he has experienced great educational and career success. Jeramie’s inner-city childhood in Chicago was interrupted by a three year period of time spent in the backwoods of Alabama where he spent his days catching frogs, crafting homemade fishing poles, and exploring every nook and cranny of the ponds surrounding his home. “I moved back to Chicago in third grade and I couldn’t fish or swim in Lake Michigan, it was too polluted. I didn’t have that outlet anymore”, Strickland says. “When I started to have behavior issues in elementary and junior high school, my teacher’s response was for me to do math and science with guidance counselors as my punishment.” Those “punishments” led to winning science fair projects at the school, district, and city levels which led to Jeramie’s mentors and counselors strongly encouraging him to attend the Chicago High School for Agricultural Science.
It was while attending the Chicago High School for Agricultural Science that Jeramie’s exposure to the study of agriculture, animal and environmental sciences, and ecology began. His time spent at that high school sparked his interest in animal science and conservation and motivated him to continue with his education at Delaware State University (DSU) where he had received a partial scholarship. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal and Poultry Science in 2004 at Delaware State University and gained undergraduate research experience, holding internships at Purdue University, Michigan State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jeramie also participated in a Study Abroad Program in Nambia, Africa through Delaware State University. It was at this time that Jeramie realized that his true passion was sharing his knowledge with youth, especially minorities and urban youth. Jeramie knew that a Master’s degree would advance his career and provide more opportunities for him to work with youth so he attended Iowa State University where he earned a Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2008.Jeramie’s link to the Service began while he was conducting his turtle and reptile research for his Master’s thesis at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and while he was working with Iowa State University’s Turtle Camp program for high school students who presented their final work at the Refuge’s Visitor Center. Through those activities Jeramie impressed Refuge Manager, Ed Britton, and Supervisory Wildlife Refuge Biologist, Russell Engelke. After Jeramie finished graduate school and earned his Master’s degree, he obtained a 12 week intern position under the Career Discovery Intern Program at the Refuge through the National Council for Science and the Environment. In 2009 he was appointed into a developmental position as a Wildlife Biologist under the former Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP). Upon completion of his developmental FCIP appointment Jeramie was converted to a permanent position as a Wildlife Biologist at the Refuge where he continues to grow and develop in his field. Jeramie rarely says no to any opportunity to share his love for wildlife and the environment with youth. In doing so he realizes that he isn’t just teaching science, he’s showing kids like him a glimpse of a future that they may not have thought possible. “Getting kids involved in conservation and exposing them to the outdoors is my way of giving back,” Jeramie says. “I am truly thankful for my mentors and I want to give kids from my community a good role model.” Jeramie currently serves as a mentor for the Ecology Society of America, the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Program, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Career Discovery Intern Program. Both programs provide students with professional developmental opportunities, science exposure (including research), networking opportunities, and reciprocal mentoring opportunities. Jeramie plans to pursue his doctoral degree in Wildlife Biology and he will continue to promote environmental education and opportunities to attract more diverse students in becoming active in fundamental research and environmental conservation, education, and management. Jeramie is also an active participant on the Midwest Region’s recruitment team.Learn more about Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
"Here is your country. Cherish these natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children" ~Theodore Roosevelt