Celebrating International Women's Day 2019

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Women in Wildlife:
Celebrating Women’s History Month


Women are making a tremendous impact in conserving America’s wildlife! However, their contributions often go unrecognized. #WildlifeWomen that work for, partner with and support Partners for Fish and Wildlife are innovative and resourceful leaders in a variety of diverse roles such as: biologists, conservation partners, landowners, ranchers, farmers, hydrologists, fluvial geomorphologists, landscape ecologists, firefighters, outdoor educators, administrators, writers, photographers and more. We want to celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing more than 75 amazing women that make up the fabric of Partners for Fish and Wildlife, #WildlifeWomen who are leading the way in sustaining healthy communities and landscapes across the country. We thank them for their contributions and for inspiring future female conservationists! No matter where you live or what you do, here's to another "Year of the Woman"!

“The role of women in the development of society is of utmost importance. In fact, it is the only thing that determines whether a society is strong and harmonious, or otherwise. Women are the backbone of society.” — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Mindy Meade

"Everyday, we are given an opportunity to "Make a Difference". My niche is in fostering partnerships with private landowners that result in on-the-ground habitat for species like the endangered Wyoming toad. This photo is a personal favorite because it demonstrates that my work as a biologist is interwoven through all aspects of my life. Nothing brings me greater joy than knowing that I am instilling passion for fish and wildlife conservation in my children. "Blessed" is the word that come to mind when I think back on the day that my daughters helped to release the most endangered amphibian in North America on one of my habitat project areas."

Lauren Connell

"I work to conserve birds and their habitats through conservation on privately-owned lands."

Liz Cockrell

"Now a college freshman, Liz (daughter of Joe Cockrell, SC PFW State Coordinator) has been volunteering on joint Audubon/PFW longleaf pine restoration projects in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since she was 8 years old."


The women of the IWJV are: (top, l-r) Hannah Nikonow (Sagebrush Communications Specialist), Joy Morris (Water 4 Initiative Coordinator), Ali Duvall (Assistant Coordinator); (bottom, l-r) Tina Dennison (Project Coordinator), Lori Reed (Operations Specialist), and Laurel Anders (Communications Program Coordinator).

Based in Missoula, Montana, we work in parts or all of 11 western states. Our favorite part about working in wildlife is the people who inspire and energize us through their dedication to finding collaborative solutions to conservation challenges. We thrive on finding innovative ways to support Partners projects and strive to help showcase their successes. Our conservation heroes are Rachel Carson, Margaret “Mardy” Murie, Mamie Parker, Dr. Jeanne Chambers, Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, and the many women of the West whose lives and livelihoods involve conservation. We hope to make a difference by building and supporting strong and diverse partnerships for strategic conservation at meaningful scales across the Intermountain West, in ways that benefit wildlife and people.

Shelly Kelly

"I'm a cattle rancher in the Nebraska Sandhills.  My favorite part about ranching is seeing all the new babies in the spring; the baby calves, the tiny burrowing owls, the baby jackrabbits.  I've always wanted to be a rancher, and I thank my folks for that, because they took me along and taught me how to work on and take care of the land just as soon as I was able.  My mom, and all ranch wives, are my heros because these women raise children, cook meals, move cattle, check water, order cattle supplements, keep the ranch books, and much more.  They are some of the hardest working people I know."

Erin Farris Olsen

"I hope to significantly raise awareness of the success of locally lead conservation to mitigate the impact climate change and build resiliency into our landscape and communities."

Tuda Libby Crews

"Ute Creek Cattle Company is managed for wildlife habitat development. Cattle are used as the tool to maximize forage production through animal impact and natural fertilization. The sale of calves provides an income stream for the business. Land and cattle are symbiotic through time-managed grazing that allows plants to rest so roots can regenerate. Healthy land attracts diverse wildlife. Wild bird diversity is nature’s response to productive grasslands, so the bird species count is used as a yardstick to measure healthy land. On the land everything is connected through ecological activity that sequesters carbon in the soil."

Heather Rawlings

"My name is Heather Rawlings and I am a PFW Coordinator in Northern Michigan where I restore native grassland (picture), wetlands, young forests, and I do a lot of river restoration work (dam removal, in-stream structures, road/stream crossing improvements).  I love being in the field, making a difference on some really incredible landscapes!  My conservation hero's include Margaret Murie, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbie, Bonnie Dunbar (an astronaut I had the privilege of meeting when I was young), Mollie Beattie, Robyn Thorson, Mamie Parker, and my Mom, Karen Enterline, who made science come alive for young people for over 42 years."

Gwen Kolb

"I restored, reestablished and enhanced wetlands, floodplain forests and prairies for the first half of my career. Land stewardship was what the landowners and I practiced."

Mamie ParkerSusan AbeleAllison Parrish

"The work I do as an archaeologist in support of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the PFW
Program is both challenging and extremely fulfilling. It is an honor to play a role in perpetuating a long
legacy of conservation and resource stewardship, in terms of both cultural and natural resources (which
are, of course, inextricably linked) for the benefit of the American people. In the future, I want my
children and grandchildren to be able to know nature and its wild creatures, to see and experience past
and persisting manifestations of this continent’s diverse history and cultures, and to have the opportunity
to create their own adventures within these greater landscapes. After all, at the end of the day, the truth is
that we still need wild places – to relax, to recharge our spirits, and to reconnect with our foundations as
human beings."

Estie Thomas

Estie works for the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, who has been a great partner to the Service, especially in regard to land protection in Virginia. Estie works tirelessly along the Rapphannock River, helping to preserve important migratory bird habitat.  VOF holds and stewards the majority of the conservation easements that our partnership has worked to protect.

Carolyn Kolstad

"We were out in the field with this little cutie the other day. It’s an especially cool project…with NAWCA and Ducks Unlimited to restore wetlands in a very sterile (all farm country) area. He’s recorded over 100 species of birds so far since he started building habitat. What’s even better is that he is/was the superintendent of a nearby school district and we are creating a big restoration project on their property. We have teachers from 5 different schools designing the joint use parcel to be ag and habitat. It’s going to be great!! Lots of donations from local franchise owners to support the project!"

Noreen Walsh

In 2016, Noreen was fortunate to work with incredible landowners, partners, and dedicated Service employees to participate in a historic reintroduction of endangered black-footed ferrets.  Ferrets were returned to the place they had been rediscovered when originally thought extinct – Meteetse, Wyoming.

Alexandra Galindo

"My mother was a science school teacher and she became my role model; thanks to her my passion for science started since I was a little girl. I love my work because every single day is a new adventure!"

Willow Bish

Willow Bish, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife and Habitat Biologist in Glenrock, WY, inventories and assesses true mountain mahogany stands that are intermixed with encroaching junipers on privately-owned land.  Wildfires, which once controlled juniper encroachment and stimulated mahogany regeneration, are often quickly extinguished due to risk factors associated with terrain, topography, and mixed landownership concerns.  In the absence of fire as a tool for management, Willow works to improve this mule deer crucial winter range by contracting with brush saw operators who mechanically treat mountain mahogany to promote re-sprouting of the shrubs.  

Amy Horstman

"I’ve been interested in nature ever since I can remember, playing in the creek behind my parent’s house and watching and chasing butterflies in the flower garden. That interest led me to pursue ecology and conservation as a career."

Xiomara LabiosaKelly Molloy

"I love working with private lands and sagebrush steppe/grassland landscapes!"

Anita GoetzSue McnealWendi Weber

"I LOVE working with dedicated people that are passionate about conservation and share in my pride of our agency’s mission."

Beth Freiday

"I became interested in conservation at a very early age. We lived in a city and I only had domestic pets as my inspiration, but as soon as I grew up and moved out of the city I discovered t"hat my pets were just a placeholder until I discovered my true love for wildlife. I am most intrigued by bird ecology (yes, I am one of those geeks who knows all of the birds songs). With over 10,000 species of birds in the world to learn about, how could anyone ever get bored with a career in wildlife management?"

Caitlin Nagorka

"As a private lands biologist, the most rewarding part of a Partners project is sharing the excitement with the landowner(s) when that first duck, songbird, monarch, turtle, or pheasant shows up in the project site."

Betsy MattenSherri MosleyKimberly Emerson

"I work in the tallgrass prairie region of Minnesota, making management recommendations for Waterfowl Production Areas and National Wildlife Refuges. I also work with our Partners for Fish & Wildlife biologist to restore and enhance stream and oxbow habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner. "

Carissa Freeh

On a private land site visit to assess alder for shearing/potential young forest management options. "Being a part of the young forest partnership allows us to explore new properties and enjoy Wisconsin’s snowy winters."

Shelli WingoMayKay Fox

"MayKay is an instrumental part of our team on the Cape (Cod).  She has been helping me with pollinator projects for several years now.  We enhanced numerous fields for pollinators and plenty of schoolyard garden.  Couldn't do it without her!"

Carrie ThompsonCassie Roeder

"My favorite part about working in wildlife is the excitement, you never know what a day in the field will bring."

Sharon O'TooleKelly VanBeek

"Kelly VanBeek is a wildlife biologist in the Region 3 Migratory Bird Program, based in Madison, WI. Kelly is a proud supporter of PFW and strives to find provide technical assistance to both PFW staff and their partners. She got interested in wildlife from experiences like banding geese. Kelly hopes her work helps maintain and restore landscapes where everyone can enjoy the whistle of a spring Upland Sandpiper or the cacophony of Canada Geese during a fall sunset.

Cathy Olyphant

"I dearly love birds and spend a great deal of time in the field doing bird surveys for Wisconsin’s Breeding Bird Atlas (WBBAII), and also I’m part of the bird banding crew at Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings, MN."

Shannon SmithChristiana ManvilleMichelle Vander Haar

"The outdoors has always been my first love.  I couldn't imagine spending my career doing anything other than restoring wetlands, grasslands and streams to improve the health of our wildlife and our communities."

Serena Doose

"I work to conserve the spirit and culture of the mid-Klamath River for future generations by working with other passionate partners to restore fish passage and create habitat, one conversation and handshake at a time."

Christine Cline

"The best part of a partnership project is bringing people together, expanding their understanding of problems and solutions, and uniting to create change."

Robyn ThorsonColleen Graue

"As a #WildlifeWoman at both work and at home I have experienced first hand countless wonders of nature that so many people will never even dream about. I have learned the best way to re-live the wonderment from the first time you experience something is to share it with another person and witness them experience it for the first time. Having worked 12 years in the fire program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, I traveled to many wild places and explored them intimately with boots on the ground often working and sleeping outside 24 hours a day several days at a time. One cannot be more immersed in nature than that! For the past 7 years, I have had the opportunity to work in visitor services where through interpretation and environmental education I have been able to share so many first time outdoor experiences with others both young and old. From an early morning dew that reveals the intricacies of a multitude of spiderwebs on the prairie to the to the smell of lightning that struck oh so close, I feel fortunate to live a life where I spend more time outdoors than inside."

Rebekah BrathalLaurel BaduraColleen GrantPaula GolightlyCynthia Martinez

"My Female Conservation Heroes are the Women of the Fish and Wildlife Service! From the women in administrative positions, to the wage grade professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, visitor services professionals, fisheries and wildlife biologists, botanists, ecologists, facility managers, chef-yes, you Morgan on the Tiglax!, public affairs officers, refuge managers, refuge supervisors, project leaders, chiefs, and regional directors. I am so proud when I visit field stations and see the work women are leading and especially when they are the Captains of the airboats!"

Laura Fogo

"I enjoy restoring remnant Piedmont grasslands to recover the endangered Schweintiz's sunflower!"

Cynthia Lane

"Working in the remote and intact boreal forest is an ecologist's dream. Finding and mapping rare plants and communities helps inform characterize wildlife habitat and conservation priorities in this region."

Michelle HuntDeb RyunMichelle EversenDina MooreMichelle Clark

"I work with private landowners and others to conserve wet and mesic forested native ecosystems on Kauai.  My favorite part of my job is getting to go on remote camping trips in the mountains with partners to protect native ecosystems and recover endangered species. One of my greatest female conservationist inspirations is Susan Middleton". Michelle is an artist, photographer, author, and educator specializing in the portraiture of rare and endangered animals, plants, sites, and cultures. She has photographed endangered species in all 50 states and has published many fine art photography books, including "Remains of a Rainbow: Rare Plants and Animals of Hawaii", which have inspired many others to care for endemic species and native ecosystems.

Emily Munter

"I call the Kenai Peninsula of southcentral Alaska home. It is a land of mountains and glaciers, forests and wetlands, rivers and streams big and small, and loads of fish and wildlife. While many people imagine Alaska as a pristine environment, reality is that climate change and the human footprint have and continue to change the landscape. This change, however, presents wonderful opportunities. Opportunities to restore and rehabilitate and opportunities to conserve and protect, not only for the benefit of Alaska's tremendous natural resources, but for the people that live and recreate in this beautiful place."

Meredith Bryant

"My work involves working with partners to restore wildlife habitat in Southern Michigan, including coastal habitat, habitat for eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and habitat for Mitchell's satyr butterfly, Monarch butterfly and other pollinators."

Georgia Basso

Q. If you could have one incredible animal adaptation, what would it be? A. The speed and maneuverability of a Northern goshawk. I worked with goshawks in Nevada early in my career and was so impressed by their aerial skills. Being able to weave through a dense forest with the speed, skill and grace of a goshawk would bring a new dimension to trail running, mountain biking and skiing!

Megan Webster

"I want to get conservation projects on the ground and address everyday problems. Environmental challenges can be overwhelming but we all can make a difference; I love to get people engaged in projects in their area that make them feel they are part of the solution."

Heather JohnsonMarisa SatherJanice AllenJen ValentinMarcella Tarantino

"I work to conserve Sagebrush!  Focused on the range of Gunnison Sage-Grouse in southwestern Colorado.” 

Jennifer Leinsohn

" hope to make a difference in the field of plant conservation by developing strong partnerships, supporting research, and encouraging the use of innovative tools to implement recovery actions."

Liz StoutJoAnneHumphreys

"I’ve loved streams since my family moved out of the suburbs and into the country when I was in Junior High School. I lived far away from any of my friends so I would go exploring in the Oriskany Creek and ride through the overgrown meadows on my horse. After starting to work with Gian Dodici, I was exposed to fluvial geomorphology principles and I started seeing streams in a whole new way. Now, I want everyone to know!"


"The longleaf pine ecosystem is awesome - it's diversity second only to the tropical rain forests! John Ann Shearer, PFW Coordinator for North Carolina loves helping private landowners bring their ideas for longleaf restoration to life on their lands."

Linh Phu

Linh served as a senior biologist in the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program before recently accepting a position as Project Leader for the Eastern Massachusetts Wildlife Refuge Complex!

Julianne RossetLibby WoodKarleen VollherbstKatie Kain

"I work to restore high priority riparian habitats across Vermont to benefit sensitive fish and wildlife species and the people whose communities I work in."

Leah Burgess

Leah finds great satisfaction in the work of permanently protecting Wyoming’s diverse and important landscapes, together with landowners and agency partners.  Leah was recently recognized as the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust 2018 Partner of the Year.  Congratulations to Leah for her hard work and dedication to habitat protection.  She is instrumental in building Wyoming's conservation legacy.  

Katrina Mueller

"Fishing and camping as a kid and just generally being mesmerized by fish and wildlife and the thrill of being outside. I want to see those opportunities continue during my lifetime and beyond."

Kelly SrigleyWernerKathy O'Reilly-Doyle
Tamara Mccandless

With the support of her family, our March newsletter is dedicated to the life and memory of Tamara McCandless. Tamara was a world-renowned fluvial geomorphologist that dedicated much of her career to improving the quality of streams that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. She was a pioneer at Partners for Fish and Wildlife: a true friend who had a relentless passion for wildlife conservation.