Growing up a visual learner, movies and television played a vital role in fueling my passion for become a wildlife biologist. I was entranced with tales of saving rare macaws from being smuggled in Brazil, rescuing gray whales trapped in ice in Alaska, and meeting a shaman in Africa who grants me powers to talk to animals (if you know you know). I was shown all the best parts of becoming an ecologist but it did not paint a full picture of the job. When people picture wildlife biologists, they picture jungle, bug bites and hiking boots. What they do not picture, is laptop screens and blue light glasses. I want to shed light on the behind the scenes work of conservation and how it is some of the most important work that is being done
I have talked to many people about their job positions time and time again. I have asked their passions, goals, and favorite parts of the job. What I found out is that most ecologist are born from a passion for our environment; they fell in love with the green of the trees, the feeling of the wind, and the choruses of the birds. Of course, the dream for a lot of us is to have a position where we can be outside enjoying these wonders. Unfortunately, not everyone can have one of these positions. The told and tried truth is that less and less of these field positions are becoming available. The office is where data analysis happens. The office is where meetings to discuss regulatory laws happen. The office is where research proposals are written. It may seem contradicting, but some of the best work for the environment is being done from inside!
I must admit, when I first found out my project was fully online, I was a little upset. I had visions of trekking through the California mountains capturing these cool species and seeing all these different horizons. I have been working remotely on my DFP project for the past two months now. My day is always the same; I get ready, walk to my living room, set up my laptop, and stay there until the day’s work is over. I know it sounds somber and, while it is not as I had envisioned, I love it all the same. Everyday, I get to watch my project expand as more and more information is gathered. While I have not been able to physically participate in the work, it has been great to see the ways in which my project will help answer impactful research questions. I think that more awareness should be spread about the technological side of ecology; it is just as wonderful and beautiful as the physical side!
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Sacramento Regional Office