By Olivia Beitelspacher, public affairs specialist
Meet Christine Fox, one of our newest fish and wildlife biologists! Christine walks us through her conservation career journey and shares what makes her proud. Learn more about Christine in the latest Faces of the Fish and Wildlife Service interview!
Olivia Beitelspacher: Welcome to the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, Christine! What role do you play within the agency?
Christine Fox: I work to conserve threatened and endangered species through implementing and Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. This means that I work together with partners such as other federal agencies, California state agencies, county governments, companies and private landowners to offset project impacts on listed species. I am also the co-lead for the threatened western snowy plover and the endangered tidewater goby – both species are super fascinating!
OB: Wow! Good to know that I can come to you with any tidewater goby or western snowy plover related questions. What led you to a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
CF: I first fell in love with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009 while completing a visitor services internship with the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex in Lacombe, Louisiana. I loved that the Service’s mission was about protecting wildlife for future generations, and I enjoyed working with people who were passionate about wildlife like I was. Since that first internship, I’ve interned, volunteered, and worked for different USFWS programs in different locations across the country.
OB: I’m glad that your internship was so left such a deep impact! I’d love to hear about your other experiences working with the Service sometime. Can you tell us where you went to school and what you studied?
CF: My first degree is a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia (UGA). After working in the environmental education field for a year, I returned to UGA to complete a Master’s of Natural Resources, focusing on environmental education and human dimensions of wildlife management. I worked as an environmental educator and wildlife biological technician before going taking the leap into the wildlife management world. I recently completed a B.S. in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology with a focus in wildlife science from North Carolina State University. It’s never too late to go back to school!
OB: That’s so true! Learning is a lifelong endeavor and I’m sure you have a lot of valuable knowledge. So, Christine, do you have any conservation mentors?
CF: There are many. Rachel Carson swam against the tide as a female scientist in a male-dominated world, and she persevered. She shared her research in the most eloquent way, changing our quality of life for the better. I also adore David Attenborough and his sense of wonder. His documentaries have opened the natural world to so many people, including myself. I can’t go without recognizing my previous supervisor, Betty Phillips. She is an outstanding biologist, mentor, and friend. She encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and return to school so I could pursue my wildlife career dreams. I am also inspired by all the wonderful people I’ve worked alongside with over the years and in my current position.
OB: It’s great to hear that you have been inspired and supported by such a wide variety of people! We all need mentors and heroes to help us and inspire us to work towards our goals. What is a project from your career or schooling that makes you really proud?
CF: I’m proud of myself for overcoming my fear of failure and returning to school. Growing up, I struggled with math and developed a lack of self-confidence in academics. Even though I enjoyed and excelled in biology and chemistry in high school, I lacked the confidence to pursue a biology degree in college. It’s been a winding journey to get to where I am today, but I did it and I’m excited to see what I’ll accomplish next. I’ve also been proud to work alongside some incredible biologists and partners. It’s an honor to get to share space with such intelligent and passionate people trying to solve wildlife conservation challenges. I also can’t discount the small victories I’ve experienced along my career. Those “ah ha” moments, like when a child connects to nature on a deeper level or seeing the pride on a landowner’s face when they are recognized for restoring habitat on their property.
OB: You have accomplished some amazing things and it is wonderful to see how you have grown throughout your journey! We are very lucky to have you on our team. Last question - How do you spend your free time?
CF: I love to explore whether traveling, hiking, backpacking, camping, trying new restaurants, reading a book, learning about a new plant or animal, or just taking my dog out for a walk. I’ve been drawn to horses my whole life and have been riding since I was little. I’m also interested in native plant and vegetable gardening. I wouldn’t say my thumb is green, but I’m learning.
OB: What fun hobbies! We’ll need to swap traveling, book, and restaurant recommendations soon. Thanks, Christine!