Name: Kayla Stalder
Hometown: Greenfield, IA
Major and Graduation Date: Forestry, Option: Interpretation; May 2016
Favorite ISU class
This is a tough one! I took a wide range of classes at ISU, including bowling and ceramics, but my favorites would have to be the Natural Resources Ecology and Management (NREM) field courses. During my sophomore year, I went to Fall Forestry Camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I also took a lot of NREM identification classes that I still use knowledge from almost every single day. Dendrology (tree identification), Midwestern Prairie Plants, and Natural History of Iowa Vertebrates are three examples of identification courses offered in the NREM department that have helped me in my Naturalist career.
Job Title & Company: Naturalist, Decatur County Conservation Board; Leon, IA
Major Job/Position Responsibilities
My job title may be Naturalist, but I am lucky to get to do a lot more than that! Part of my job is helping manage our wildlife areas and parks in the county. This includes mowing, removing invasive species, chain sawing, and (my favorite) burning. I enjoy doing all of these things, but my main purpose is to teach people of all ages about the world around them and why it is important. Most of my time is spent in schools visiting classrooms and giving different environmental education programs. During the summer, I lead summer camps, campground programs, hikes, and much more. I love the flexibility of my job that allows me to work with a wide variety of people and knowing that my days will never be the same.
What you like most about your job/position?The best part of my job is going to the schools and having kids be excited to learn about the world around them. It is even better when I hear that the kids bring this information home to their parents and their parents get excited about it too! It is very fulfilling to know that what I am doing for a career is impacting the whole community.
What advice would you give to current students pursuing a career in Agriculture and Life Sciences?
My best advice would be to branch out and join as many clubs as you can! The best decision I ever made in college was to join three clubs within my department. I made lifelong friends, gained many life skills, and even made job connections by joining these clubs. You won’t regret it! My other advice would be to gain as much experience in your field as you can while still in college. This could include volunteering, finding internships, and attending conferences. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities around Ames, and especially in the NREM Department. Experience is very important to employers and every little bit counts.