A Talk on the Wild Side.
My name is Madison Fladeland, and I grew up in the small town of Hatton, North Dakota. My hobbies include running, walking my dog, reading, trying new foods, and most recently herbalism. I attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and will graduate in December with a B.S. degree in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Originally I was going to school for pre-vet where that was the “cover-all” major. As I took more courses in the biological field, especially ecology, I became very interested in environmental resiliency; i.e. how nature sustains itself, how it corrects itself, how we effect it, etc.
As a kid I was often playing outside; whether I was climbing trees, building forts with my best friend down the road, or trying to rescue baby birds who fell from their nest (I didn’t knock them down).
As an adult, I still enjoy nature. There’s just something about being somewhere beautiful that’s not man-made, whether it’s the rolling hills of the South Dakota prairie or the dramatic expanse of the Rockies.
That’s what lead me to the Directorate Fellowship Program (DFP) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I had the opportunity to go to Madison, South Dakota, (I didn’t just choose it because of my name) to spend the summer as their DFP. There I have been able experience first-hand conservation work being done on the landscape.
My project involved creating a monitoring tool for law enforcement and managers to use out in the field, which enables them to digitally track non-compliant easements. This tool can be used on land or in the air, and you can map the violation out in the field and fill out all the necessary information and then sync the data. You can then access this information on your tablet, computer or phone. This allows officers to view the violations currently going on in the state and see if the case is open/closed in real time.
What I really enjoyed about being a DFP was having the chance to explore many of the different career paths available in the FWS. Everyone in the Madison Wetland Management District made me feel welcome and allowed me to participate in activities outside my project that I had an interest in. Even though my internship was geared toward law enforcement, I participated in several other projects at the station, such as Four-Square Mile, Native Prairie Adaptive Management (NPAM) Monitoring and the Neonicotinoid Project run by our station biologist. I was also able to go and visit the Ecological Services office in Pierre, South Dakota, and the Realty Office in Huron. They really made an effort to expose me to the diverse roles FWS employees play in conservation.
My next step is to volunteer at a few locations in the FWS until I graduate in December and start looking for a permanent position. Overall, this summer was very rewarding and I am so grateful I had the chance to participate in the DFP. I would like to thank everyone at the Madison Western Management District office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Student Conservation Association. I appreciate being given this opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it.