Newsroom Midwest Region

Honoring veterans in the midwest region

November 8, 2017

In honor of Veterans Day, we’re highlighting some exceptional employees. These are just a few of the veterans who have gone above and beyond in their everyday duties. We honor and thank you all for your bravery and commitment to protect our freedom and the opportunity to fulfill our mission of conserving fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

Learn more about veterans from across the midwest and across the country.

Jess Campbell

Cartographer for the Division of Realty in the Midwest Regional Office

Left: Jess on active duty. Right: Jess running in San Francisco.
Left: Jess on active duty. Right: Jess running in San Francisco.

Jess has been serving in the Army National Guard for 15 years, allowing her to be a true “citizen-soldier.” She is ready to assist her community, state and country in times of need - especially during natural disaster response and security operations. Jess couldn’t continue to serve in the Army without the support of her family, friends and coworkers.

“Being a member of the military, even part-time, requires great personal sacrifice and even more from my family and friends,” said Jess. “I am thankful to have a loving spouse who ‘holds down the fort’ when I am away for days or sometimes months at a time.”

Jess has learned a lot about leadership in her time in the military, which has directly contributed to her current position. She realized that there are always opportunities to step-up and take charge, even if it's not a daily part of her work. Jess’s typical work day includes responding to immediate mapping questions and working through cartography helpdesk tickets. She also researches historical records to update errors and omissions. She enjoys using GIS data, tools, analysis and products to assist others in making well-informed decisions and completing tasks or projects of their own. Her position gives her the opportunity to work with people outside of her program and the Service, making internal and external customer service a priority. There is never a dull moment and she enjoys meeting new challenges!

Scott Gilje

Refuge Manager at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Left: Scott overseas on active duty. Right: Scott during a bison roundup.
Left: Scott overseas on active duty. Right: Scott during a bison roundup.

Scott served 21 years in the U.S. Army. He had always wanted to serve and when his recruiter said he could be a combat engineer and blow things up, that's all he needed to know! One of Scott’s favorite, or as he would say - most therapeutic, activities was detonating several thousand pounds of ordinance.

“Overall, serving our country was a great experience,” said Scott. “I met my wife, Melissa, while I was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and married shortly after returning home in 2006.” Scott’s first sergeant instilled discipline, dedication and commitment into his platoon. Those skills helped build the bonds that brought his platoon together so they could accomplish any task. Scott brings those same values with him everyday at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.

Some days he may spend most of his time replying to emails, answering phone calls and sitting in meetings, but Scott gets the opportunity to look out his window to see elk and other wildlife. With his dedicated team, Scott helps restore native prairie habitats, interacts with refuge visitors and spends time face to face with our national mammal, the American bison.

Laurie Larson

Financial Specialist for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program in the Midwest Regional Office

Left: Laurie riding a camel in Afghanistan. Right: Laurie with her grandson, Oliver.
Left: Laurie riding a camel in Afghanistan. Right: Laurie with her grandson, Oliver.

Laurie spent almost 25 years in the U.S. Army, where she learned the importance of being flexible in what can be an ever-changing work environment. As a result of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990, Laurie was stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany where she had the tough task of helping the military downsize and close bases.

Laurie’s team was constantly working behind the scenes on briefings, not only for their lieutenant general, but all the way up to the commanding general for the United States Army Europe. These 50 to 70 page presentations weren’t as easy to prepare and present as our standard PowerPoint and Google Slide presentations of today. They required a fair amount of work with Harvard Graphics and Lotus 123. Printing could take hours with dot matrix printers. Although she was not actually in the briefings, Laurie was the one behind the glass listening, taking notes and changing the slides on the overhead projector.

“The days were long and childcare was complicated, since my husband was deployed in support of Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Still, I wouldn’t give up those experiences for anything! My office was not only a team, we were a family and some of us have stayed in touch to this day,” explained Laurie.

While her time in the military is near and dear to her heart, Laurie realized that she needed a change for herself and her family. That epiphany came after she was deployed to Afghanistan at the same time that her husband was mobilized to Camp Shelby, Mississippi and her son was deployed to Iraq in the U.S. Marines. In all of this change, their 20 year-old daughter stayed at home for a year to watch after her 13 year-old sister. This was when Laurie decided it was time to retire from the military. At that point, she went back to college, earned her bachelor's degree and started a new career within our Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.

Laurie may not be working for majors, colonels or lieutenant generals now, but the structure is similar and flexibility is still key. Laurie loves the work she does to support our partners in the name of conservation and recreation.

Mallory Mackey

Administrative Technician at Iron River National Fish Hatchery

Left: Mallory during her tour in Iraq. Right: Mallory at her desk at Iron River.
Left: Mallory during her tour in Iraq. Right: Mallory at her desk at Iron River.

Mallory spent six years in the U.S. Army. In 2009, she did a tour to Iraq where she met her husband. Throughout her military service, Mallory learned that “you don’t know what you are truly capable of until you do it.”

Today, Mallory is an administrative technician at Iron River National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. She describes mornings as a “mad rush,” getting herself and her twin daughters ready and out the door. When she gets to work, the hatchery holds a morning meeting of daily and upcoming tasks. Mallory ensures the hatchery is presentable and pleasant for visitors, answers phone calls and emails, maintains files and sets up tours. She also manages the hatchery’s Facebook page, which means she is always looking for something attention-grabbing to share.

Mallory does a lot of behind the scenes work with the hatchery’s budget, runs reports, arranges travel and compiles receipts and necessary documentation. Her work includes assisting her coworkers and the Friends of the Iron River National Fish Hatchery with any administrative needs they may have. When needed, Mallory helps with other tasks around the hatchery including raceway scrubbing, sorting and spawning fish, sample counts and retiring broodstock. Mallory enjoys the variety of responsibilities that make every work day unique.

Landan VanCleve

Biological Science Technician at Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

Left: Landan on tour of duty in Iraq. Right: Landan holds a lake trout during an assessment at Isle Royale.
Left: Landan on tour of duty in Iraq. Right: Landan holds a lake trout during an assessment at Isle Royale.

Landan joined the U.S. Army and served six years after his best friend at the time convinced him it was something he would be good at. He joined in 2003 shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

“Some things I took away from my military service and have applied to my present job include the lesson to be in the right place, at the right time, in the correct uniform. I also learned the importance of attention to detail, the ability to follow instructions and to always make your deadlines. These things, however small, are the foundation to being a valuable member of a team,” he said.

There is no typical day at Ashland. If it's the field season, Landan is getting prepared to head into the field, already in the field or decompressing from a field sampling event. In the off season, Landon handles fleet maintenance and shop keeping, along with other fisheries duties. Landan added that what he enjoys most about his job is being able to work outside with fish in a diverse and stress-free environment.