Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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SACRAMENTO NWRC: Deputy Refuge Manager Greg Mensik Earns Department of the Interior's Meritorious Service Award
California-Nevada Offices , September 14, 2009
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Deputy Refuge Manager Greg Mensik shares his knowledge and passion for waterfowl with kids attending a recent duck banding event at the refuge. (photo: USFWS)
Deputy Refuge Manager Greg Mensik shares his knowledge and passion for waterfowl with kids attending a recent duck banding event at the refuge. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
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Ask Greg Mensik about his 32-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and odds are every anecdote, memory or belief in his response includes a passionate reference to waterfowl and National Wildlife Refuges.  Over the years, his passion for waterfowl and dedication to refuges’ role in conserving and enhancing their habitats has grown into a wealth of accomplishments that did not go un-noticed.  On September 15, Mensik, deputy manager of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was awarded the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award.

A native of Pacific Grove, Calif., Mensik began his Service career in 1977 as a temporary wildlife biologist at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but his passions for wildlife began much earlier.  “I knew I wanted to go to Humboldt State University and major in wildlife when I was in the seventh grade,” he said.  “I made the right decision. After 32 years, I love my work just as much today as I did on my very first day. I have no regrets.”

In 1983, Mensik came to Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Sacramento Refuge Complex.  He’s been a fixture at the Complex since, working as a refuge biologist, then supervisory biologist, and later as deputy refuge manager.

During an award ceremony at Sacramento Refuge headquarters, Mensik was recognized for his active leadership in community groups, irrigation boards, rice and wetland habitat committees, and Fish and Game Advisory Committees.  His participation and leadership resulted in improved community relationships and development of strong ties with landowners, duck club managers, farmers, educators, professional scientists, and government agencies.  He has worked with the agricultural community, a variety of conservation organizations, and other agencies on many complex issues including water management, wildlife depredation, and habitat management innovations.  His accomplishments include a primary role in the development and implementation of the habitat management planning system to inventory, monitor, and manage refuge habitats that has effectively guided the efforts at the Sacramento Refuge Complex for more than 25 years and was cited in June 2008 by Management Systems International as an example of an "exemplary inventory and monitoring system."

“I’ve been his supervisor the last 12 years and I am still learning from him every day,” said Kevin Foerster, project leader at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  “Besides being an outstanding biologist and manager, he is an incredible communicator.  Thousands of students and refuge visitors have benefitted from his impromptu wildlife seminars.”

Despite the accolades that come with a career-based Meritorious Service Award, Mensik still prefers the unspoken rewards of his daily work on one of the premier waterfowl refuges in National Wildlife Refuge System.  He is driven by seeing high quality habitat being put on the ground year after year, both on and off the Refuge Complex, for the millions of birds that will use California’s Central Valley.  He also enjoys sharing “the show” with as many visitors as possible, and has made great efforts to get as many people out as possible to see and experience it.

"I still have a strong appreciation for what we're doing for waterfowl and wildlife here on the refuge. This is my 27th year of flooding seasonal wetlands on the refuge and the birds are coming in. To see 100 white fronted geese turn into 100,000 every year is incredible. It still gives me goose bumps," he said.

This year’s fall migration will likely be the last for Mensik as the deputy refuge manager.  He is planning to retire from federal service in the spring.  “But I’ll still have access, still be driving the refuge auto tour route,” he said.  “We have great people here on the refuge, and hopefully they’ll let me volunteer and keep doing the fun stuff.” 



Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov
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