Midwest Region


Women in Science: Connecting with the Future

Sarah Inouye-Leas built in LEGO. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS
Sarah Inouye-Leas built in LEGO. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

Sarah Inouye-Leas

Visitor Services Specialist
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Bloomington, Minnesota

How long have you been working with the Service?
15 years

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian. After a couple of years in college, I ended up re-thinking that track. I realized that I really liked Biology and continued taking different classes within that realm. I found that the classes I enjoyed the most had to do with the outdoors.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
I don’t know that there are a lot of typical days - it seems like something is always popping up. I guess it would depend on the time of year. During the school year, I lead field trips for kids, visit their classrooms, help people who come into our visitor center, and manage our trails. I supervise a team of three and coordinate the refuge volunteer program, so I get to work with people of all ages and backgrounds. It seems that on a daily basis, the only consistent thing is working with people, whether it’s the public, volunteers, or staff.

What is your favorite part about your job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
The variety! I really like that I am able to do a variety of things from teaching kids about nature to working on invasive species removal to helping out on prescribed burns.

What is the coolest plant or animal that you protect, conserve, restore or educate about?
Birds, in general. There are so many different species and they have so many different amazing adaptations. I really enjoy watching them and seeing what new species are coming through during migration.

What advice would you give a young girl who dreams of working in a science field?
Go for it! We definitely could use more females in the sciences. I’d say, follow your dreams – the way they look may shift and change a bit along the way, but it will definitely be rewarding.

This article is part of our Women in Science: Connecting with the Future series, inspired by LEGO’s recent “Research Institute” set featuring female scientists at work. Our goal is to connect future female scientists with real employees who make up our diverse science-based agency, inspiring them to follow their dreams.

Sarah outside of the Bloomington Visitor Center. Photo by USFWS.
Sarah outside of the Bloomington visitor center. Photo by USFWS.

Sarah helps a child make a cast of a deer track. Photo by USFWS.
Sarah helps a child make a cast of a deer track. Photo by USFWS.

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Last updated: June 15, 2016