Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Acting Regional Director Charlie Wooley. Photo by USFWS.
Acting Regional Director Charlie Wooley. Photo by USFWS.

August 2019

Farewells and thanks highlight
a successful summer in Region 3

This month is rapidly becoming the month of goodbyes in Region 3 as we say our farewells to three leaders who have been a very important part of our success.

First let me start with a big thank you and goodbye to Thao Tran. Thao has been a tremendous help while serving as our Acting Deputy Regional Director. We’ve kept Thao very busy and on the move (see Thao’s story below on just some of what she experienced while with us). While I’m sure she is looking forward to returning home and to her duties with the Department of Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire, her 90 days with us as part of the Senior Executive Service Career Development program has been a great experience for us all. Best wishes and thanks again, Thao, for such a great job!

Our other two goodbyes are bittersweet as we congratulate both Todd Turner, Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries, and Charlie Blair, Regional Chief of Refuges on their retirements. While I’m happy for them that they can now spend more personal time enjoying the resource, they will be missed. Both made a lasting impact through their many accomplishments in their respective programs. You can read more about Todd Turner and Charlie Blair in this month’s issue.

I’d like to give a shout out for the commendable efforts by Federal Wildlife Officers Alli Goldman, John Below and Rob Hirschboeck during a recent tragic event where one Minnesota family lost a loved one on Lake Pepin. These three from our Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge spent about 42 hours assisting state and local authorities in a search and recovery effort to return the remains of an individual who had drowned. To quote the family in their thank you letter, “Your diligence and persistence to help bring him home was remarkable.” I thank you and salute you for all of the work you did to reunite this family with their loved one for burial.

We’re nearing the end of what are known as the 101 Critical Days of Summer, a period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, where heightened safety awareness is important. We’ve had a great year so far and I simply remind you to stay vigilant, whether enjoying recreational time with family and friends, or taking care of the day-to-day work of another busy field season, you will always be our most important asset. As always, use good common sense, and the good training you’ve received to do potentially dangerous jobs in a safe manner.

In closing, a quick reminder that we’re coming nearer to the deadline for all of us to complete our annual diversity training for this fiscal year, for supervisors and employees alike. Not only do the wide range of training opportunities we have throughout the year meet a requirement, but they offer invaluable information that help us to keep our region one of the best places to work. Putting what we learned into action is just one of the ways that we, as a Service family, keep Region 3 a place where people feel welcome coming to the office each day and connected to one another as we complete our important conservation work.

I hope you’ve been reading information about our Interior reorganization recently from the Secretary.  Things are moving quickly, but there are still many details to be addressed.  My commitment is to keep you informed as I learn more details.  In the interim, please focus on our mission, your work and your colleagues and our partners.

Keep up the great work and enjoy this month’s issue of Inside Region 3.



All Hands on Deck

Thao's husband Erik Singer gets in a little angling during their recent trip to Voyageurs National Park. Photo by Thao Tran/USFWS.

Thao's husband Erik Singer gets in a little angling during their recent trip to Voyageurs National Park. Photo by Thao Tran/USFWS.

Thao's husband Erik Singer gets in a little angling during their recent trip to Voyageurs National Park. Photo by Thao Tran/USFWS.
Thao fishing during their family's recent trip to Voyageurs National Park. Photo by Thao Tran/USFWS.

By Thao Tran
Acting Deputy Regional Director

In July, I had the privilege of embarking on a unique vacation to Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota. Named after the French-Canadian voyageurs who transported goods for fur trading companies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Voyageurs is primarily accessible by water.

With over 270 boat campsites, the park is best explored by houseboat. With a lot of planning and a zeal for adventure, my husband and I commandeered a houseboat in Rainy Lake to enjoy the spectacular access to nature and wildlife – along with a rambunctious 16-month-old boy. While we had a steep learning curve in figuring out how to drive, navigate, and dock a boat, it was all worth it to discover the wild beauty and hidden treasures of the area. There are few places in the world where you can truly escape and revel in the cry of loons, the howl of wolves, and the majesty of bald eagles as you fish in a sparkling lake teeming with smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye.

But most importantly – it was an adventure that could only be accomplished by having all hands on deck with each of us contributing to the success of the trip. This resonated with me even more so this week, as I look back over the past three months since I’ve arrived in the Regional Office. My Senior Executive Service Career Development Program detail will be completed soon, and what stands out the most for me during this time is the phenomenal team atmosphere I’ve been so privileged to engage with during this time.

Caption coming. Photo by Thao Tran/USFWS.
Thao's son Oberon (Obi) Singer takes the helm. Photo by Thao Tran/USFWS.

There are not enough words for me to express my gratitude to Charlie Wooley for his admirable leadership and mentorship, to all the Assistant Regional Directors for their invaluable partnership, and to all the remarkable staff in the region who have demonstrated inestimable intelligence, passion and warmth in the impressive conservation work they are doing that is creating real change and impact in our environment.

It has been an honor to work with all of you. My family and I have truly enjoyed our time here, and we will depart with profound fondness for the Twin Cities and all that it has to offer. Hopefully, our paths will cross again in the future.
Thank you for your friendship and your commitment to creating a better world.

Navigating Inside Region 3

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Last updated: August 16, 2019