Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Missouri Ecological Services Takes Two STEPS Forward
Midwest Region, March 7, 2007
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Rebecca Willowood, STEP Intern, Missouri Ecological Services. 
- FWS photo
Rebecca Willowood, STEP Intern, Missouri Ecological Services.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a
Ashley Spratt, STEP Intern, Missouri Ecological Services. - FWS photo
Ashley Spratt, STEP Intern, Missouri Ecological Services. - FWS photo - Photo Credit: n/a


Meet Becky Willowood

Becky Willowood spent most of her childhood covered in poison ivy, literally. Growing up three miles outside Harrisonville, about 60 miles south west of Kansas City, she didn’t care much for television or video games. Exploring the woods surrounding her home provided all the entertainment a hot summer day could hold.  Sitting at her desk at the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office, Becky smiles as she recalls her childhood love of the outdoors, “Most mornings, I would yell from the front door, ‘Mom, I’m going exploring!’ She never knew exactly what I was up to, but when I would return with a red rash covering my ankles, she always fixed me up and sent me back out again.” Becky would head back into the woods, following creeks and shimmying across log-bridges, all in search of just one more oddly-shaped or colored rock to add to her growing collection.


Now that Becky is all grown up, and knows the difference between poison ivy and a pepper vine, she is putting her interest in nature to good use.  A Master’s student in Library Science at the University of Missouri, Becky joined the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office as a STEP intern in December 2006. “When I saw the opportunity to combine ecology and librarianship, I couldn’t help but jump right in!” Becky manages the Tri-State Administrative Record for Lead-Mining, an integral database for combating environmental contaminants across three states. “It’s great to have someone so organized and efficient to manage the documents involved in environmental contaminants issues,” said Dave Mosby, Environmental Contaminants Specialist at the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office. “Becky’s a great asset to the team.”


Becky will finish her MLS from the University of Missouri in the spring of 2008 and looks forward to a career in librarianship.


Meet Ashley Spratt

Ashley Spratt is no stranger to the wild world of the animal kingdom. She has fed lion cubs, been chased by Vervet monkeys, and been charged by an elephant. You may think that Ashley got lost on the way to the gift shop in the local zoo, but she was actually born and raised a short distance from one of the few places on Earth where animals exist in the wild, the Limpopo Province of South Africa.


“The memories and experiences of my time spent in South Africa are simply inexplicable.  There’s no doubt they have left a permanent imprint on my heart,” Ashley said. While thumbing through her day planner at the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office, Ashley recalls, “There’s no experience that can top braaing a meal over an open fire while listening to the nighttime grunts of hippos on a nearby riverbank.”  


When Ashley came to Missouri in 1998, she brought with her first hand experience of the benefits of environmental conservation. Nine years later, she is able to use that experience as a STEP intern with Missouri Ecological Services. Ashley wants the excitement of seeing animals in the wild to live on in future generations. “The feeling can come from seeing a humming bird outside your bedroom window, or catching a glimpse of a white tailed deer walking through the woodlands, or witnessing a gray bat in flight over Rock Bridge State park at dusk,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in Africa or Missouri. The animals and the environments in which they live should be respected and admired.”


Ashley joined the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office in November 2007 and specializes in community outreach.  Her role is to increase awareness for the conservation efforts of the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office by developing environmental educational programs and developing community partnerships. “Wildlife conservation is all about maintaining a balance between human activity and the natural environment, and my job is to communicate the importance of that balance to future generations,” she said. “It’s a big responsibility. But I’m confident in our office’s abilities to carry out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s commitment to connecting children with nature.”


Ashley is currently finishing her BA in Strategic Communication at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she plans to graduate in May 2007.



Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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