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Mississippi field office welcomes three new hires

The Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office in Jackson has added three members to our team: Tamara Campbell, Kelly Morris and Timika Morris (no, they are not related.) The new teammates started off the new year in their new jobs – and we couldn’t be happier to have this new dynamic trio on board.

Tamara Campbell is new to the Fish and Wildlife Service, but not new to conservation. Her background is in forestry and wildlife, and she has been in natural resources for 12 years. At the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, she served as a private lands biologist. She will continue to do some private lands work. ”Working with partners and landowners to conserve habitat for rare species” is one of the things she looks forward to, she said. She will also be busy with section 7 responsibilities, prescribed fire duties and threatened and endangered species projects.

A female employee wearing camo at night holding a bird.
At Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, an American woodcock named Elvis “left the building” quickly, as Tamara Campbell released him from being captured and affixed with a transmitter for future tracking and data gathering. Photo by Kamen Campbell.

In addition to having many rewarding experiences while collaborating with partner organizations, Campbell was honored by several of them over the last few years. The Mississippi Wildlife Federation chose her as “Wildlife Conservationist of the Year for 2015.” In 2016, Tamara and her husband, Kamen, were named “Friends of Forestry” by the Mississippi Forestry Association in Lawrence County. They were selected for this award for their work with prescribed fire, and it was the first joint award the Mississippi Forestry Association has ever given. In addition, Tamara was recognized for her contributions to the “Fire on the 40” program, an important fire initiative in Mississippi.

Campbell earned her master’s degree in wildlife science from Mississippi State University. Her research was part of a long-term study on the effects of intensive forest management on wildlife habitat. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Wildlife Management from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.

Originally from Louisiana, Campbell and her family have been calling Mississippi home for the last six years. Tamara and Kamen enjoy being outdoors going backpacking, hunting and fishing. But that all comes second now as their main activity these days is taking care of their beautiful one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Eden Rose.

A female employee takes a selfie while high up in a tree.
Kelly Morris is “up a tree” at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge to capture and band red-cockaded woodpecker nestlings and then return them to their nests. Photo by Kelly Morris, USFWS.

The beginning of 2017 also brought Kelly Morris to the Mississippi Field Office team. She is a fish and wildlife biologist and will specialize in section 7 consultations for threatened and endangered species. Morris transferred to the Mississippi Field Office from the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge which in Suffolk, Virginia.

Kelly, “Coming from refuges, where most projects were developed on the refuge scale, I am looking forward to working on projects that have a more landscape-scale emphasis on conservation biology throughout Mississippi and the Southeast,” she said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity to get involved in a variety of projects that both expand on and highlight my skill set.”

The field office is already putting Morris’s skill set to good use as she works in coordination with other local, state and federal agencies to determine effects that projects might have on protected species in north Mississippi. She recently helped coordinate a meeting between seven organizations to continue development of a bat conservation strategy for the state of Mississippi. Part of her new responsibilities include working with bats, as well as migratory birds; she is well versed in both. She has also worked with red-cockaded woodpeckers on a reintroduction project while she was on the refuge and did various marsh bird and coastal sparrow research projects.

Morris earned her master’s from Mississippi State University in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture in 2015. She did her thesis work on the coastal ecology of yellow rails in pine savannah habitats in Mississippi and Alabama. She has been involved in prescribed fire and spent time working in forested swamps and doing forest wetland ecology. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Christopher Newport University in f Virginia. She is married to Tracy and they are sharing their lives with two orange tabby cats. Recently, Morris started learning how to home brew and she also enjoys biking, hiking, fishing, and “anything on the water, but no running, please.”

A female employee in business atire poses for a photo outside.
Sergeant Timika Morris recently joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo, Sydnee Tapley.

Timika Morris is the third fresh face on the team. She reported for duty in late January as a new administrative assistant. In addition to doing “everything administrative,” Morris says that she is “a jack of all trades.” Her favorite motto is “to know a little bit about everything instead of know everything about a little.”

As the admin assistant, Morris said that she is looking forward to learning new things, since this job is more on the business side, as opposed to her previous position as a Medicaid specialist, which was more like social work. She has also served in the Mississippi Army National Guard since 2007. She works in communications as a signal support specialist, assembling and troubleshooting communication equipment. Her last deployment was for a year in Washington, D.C. where she defended the National Regional Capitol,” which is the White House no-fly zone.

Morris has strong leadership skills and knows her way around computers, but helping others is what really drives her. Her current passion is working with the non-profit Delta Upsilon Sigma Educational Advancement Foundation on Project Impact Mississippi. The project offers educational opportunities for adolescents and provides book bags and schools supplies to Mississippi students. She works on the foundation’s social media accounts and reaches out to school counselors regarding the foundation’s scholarships for kids.

Morris earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Criminology from Mississippi State University. In May, 2017, she is expecting to finish her master’s in business administration from Belhaven University. After that, she plans to continue in school by pursuing a doctorate in media psychology.

Morris grew up in Carthage, Mississippi, and she now lives in Pearl with her first-ever feline friend, Charlie.

Each of these unique women brings a range of talents, perspectives and experience.

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