Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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(from left) Janice Whitney and Pat Percy. Photo by USFWS.

(from left) Janice Whitney and Pat Percy. Photo by USFWS.

Regional Information Technology Chief Janice Whitney
Retires After 35 Years Service

Regional Information Technology Chief Janice Whitney retired in October after 35 years with the Fish and Wildlife Service. With this note, I want to pay tribute to her career.

As we come to work at our office, or work from alternative locations, the field, from temporary duty locations, or from home, the first thing we do is log into the network. We’re able to connect to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior networks and exchange incredible amounts of information instantaneously with more and more and increasingly smaller devices. Much of what we’re able to do has sprung forth from initiatives that Janice either led or worked on.
Before she came to work for the Service, Janice decided to take a break from college. She and a friend hitchhiked across the USA and got jobs in the Pacific Northwest. In telling the story, she always makes it sound like it was the normal thing to do. She eventually made it back to the Midwest, specifically Madison, Wisconsin and finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin. She was hired by the Service in 1979 as a Cartographic Technician for the Division of Realty in the Regional Office. Although she was just getting started, she has fond memories of an assignment to headquarters to work on preparation for the implementation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which protected 157 million acres of public lands.

From the Regional Office and Realty Division, Janice took a position at the Marquette Biological Station, Michigan, in 1981 as a Biological Technician. A year later, she was promoted to a Fishery Biologist position. She considers her three years at Marquette as some of the best moments of her career, particularly recalling the many months during field season that she spent in wild places surveying and sampling streams and rivers that feed into the Great Lakes. Being out on the water or trekking the country have always been a vital part of Janice's life.

In 1984, she returned to the Regional Office and began working for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The idea of personal computing was just an idea starting to become an everyday office reality. Janice began working to bring automation and desktop computers to the field. By 1987, she began setting up the first IBM personal computers at field stations. There was no network to speak of yet in 1987. Janice worked with each Refuge to install one IBM computer (with floppy drives for MS-DOS, Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3), and one Hewlett Packard printer. At that time, the hardware and software cost almost $10,000 per station.

Janice continued to work as a Computer Specialist for Refuges through the 1990s. In 1995 and 1996, the Region's effort to create a single IT organization began and IT staff and file servers were brought into what we now know as the Division of Information Technology Management. Janice rose to become the lead for that office and she has overseen the size and scope of IT change significantly. Janice has participated on or led many of the national efforts to enhance and streamline the Service's network to provide greater capacity and capabilities in a manageable and secure environment.

When asked about her career highlights, she said, "I love the Service and it's mission. I wouldn't have wanted to work for any other agency. I loved working in the field and working with the field."

It's no secret that Janice will go into retirement to paddle and trek in some incredibly amazing places. For many of us, Janice has been inspirational. Her work reflects detailed planning and insight and her focus on execution is unyielding. Janice epitomizes grace under pressure. She challenged herself by taking on national leadership roles on Service-wide teams while still tackling her day job. Her reward was a sense of accomplishment. To this day, she cares deeply about her staff and the careers that lie ahead of them. Janice never shied away from voicing her tightly held views. Over the last eight years, I also got to know Janice as the loving wife to Doug and a great mom for Ryan and Susie. Most of all, I will miss hearing about the next big adventure right around the corner, be it paddling in the Quetico or hiking in Argentina.

By Chris Jensen
Regional Office - Budget and Administration

Janice Whitney (far right) with her Information Technology Management staff. Photo by USFWS.g

Janice Whitney (far right) with her Information Technology Management staff. Photo by USFWS.


Last updated: November 4, 2014