By Olivia Beitelspacher, public affairs specialist
Meet one of our newest biologists Erin Arnold! Erin discusses her path to the Fish and Wildlife Service and the work that she’s most proud of. Learn more about Erin in the latest Faces of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service interview.
Olivia Beitelspacher: Welcome to the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office Erin! What role do you play in the agency?
Erin Arnold: : I work onconsultations. Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act provides a way to conserve endangered species and the habitat upon which those species depend. I am new in this role, but I hope to contribute to and represent the mission of our agency and help reach our conservation goals.
OB: We’re very lucky to have you working with us! What led you to a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
EA: My path to the Service was somewhat circuitous. I knew I wanted to work in the wildlife biology and conservation fields from the time I took a formative biology class in high school. Since then I pursued two biology degrees and worked years in the field with the dream of joining the Service. My work with raptor species led me to the California Condor Recovery Program where I not only was able to join the Service in my first role as a Wildlife Biologist but able to work with what became one of my favorite species.
OB: You’ve certainly worked very hard to get here! So Erin, where did you go to school and what did you study?
EA: I received my B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I received my M.S. in Raptor Biology from Boise State University.
OB: Do you have a conservation hero or mentor?
EA: There have been many biologists and conservationists that have inspired and motivated me throughout my career, but my personal mentor would be Dr. Loren Cassin Sackett and her work in evolutionary conservation biology. When I first met her about 15 years ago, she was a T.A. for one of the first biology courses I took in college. She was the first one to get me in the field and hands-on experience with, in this case, black-tailed prairie dogs. She has been an invaluable support to me as I have navigated my way through the years and ups and downs, both professionally and personally. I can only hope to someday provide such mentorship and support to others in their careers.
OB: She sounds like a wonderful and inspiring person! It’s so great that you had someone like her to support you through your career! Do you have a particular project from your career or schooling that makes you really proud?
EA: I am proud of the work I was involved with in the California Condor Recovery Program. I was part of the southern California field team for 3.5 years and although the work was some of the most challenging, I very much treasure the years spent in the field with the condors, working with and forming great friendships with colleagues and volunteers, and exploring remote and beautiful areas in southern California. I am still in awe of the work and dedication that has gone into recovering this species, the strong partnerships across agencies and state lines, and the fortitude of the California condor.
OB: The California Recovery Program is absolutely amazing and I’m glad to hear that your experience with that program was so rewarding. So Erin, how do you spend your free time?
EA: I recently adopted two dogs which have been dominating my past couple of months! I also enjoy backpacking, climbing, board games, and trying to keep my plants alive.
OB: I’m sure having two new furballs makes life more exciting! Lastly, do you have a hidden talent?
EA: If the mood strikes me, I have been known to draw or paint a picture or two. I have not dedicated as much time to developing this skill as I would like, but every so often I like to create something.
OB: Drawing and painting are such neat skills to have. I’d love to see some of your work. Thanks Erin!