Young Alum of the Month: Jeramie T. Strickland

Jeramie T. Strickland
Title and Company: 
Wildlife Biologist at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
Chicago, IL
Major and Graduation Date: 
Masters in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, December 2008
Major Job/Position Responsibilities: 

Plan and conduct wildlife and biological surveys and inventories. Interpret data and help prepare wildlife and habitat management plans. Conduct radio telemetry studies of wildlife. Assist in habitat management and improvement work consisting of mowing/seeding activities, vegetation removal, moist soil management, cooperative farming, wetland management, and grassland management/restoration. Perform environmental impact analyses on sensitive, threatened, and endangered species. Assist with prescribed fire burning and activities for prairie restoration and management. Conduct habitat evaluations for various habitat restoration projects. Monitor water levels of wetland management units and manipulate water control structures for waterfowl breeding and migration. Assist with the overall management of the refuge and assist staff with various programs and operations (visitor services, public and news media, administrative, human resources, maintenance, reviews and reports on permit applications, and habitat management). Develop and design curriculum and instructional education materials/activities for K-12 students, and coordinate education and outreach activities/programs for students, teachers, parents, and the general public. Author technical reports and professional publications. Serve on the FWS Regional Diversity Recruitment Committee. Perform facility maintenance. Pursue opportunities for partnerships and grants. Supervise Student Temporary Employment Program and Career Intern Program interns. Participate in meetings and conferences with other government, natural resource and private agencies, and university representatives. Conduct professional presentations at professional meetings, conferences, and workshops. Manage a state-threatened (Illinois) Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata) head start, re-introduction, nesting biology, conservation, and population recovery project. Oversee data collection and analyses. Communicate research findings both internally and externally, including written and oral evaluation reports for staff, funders, and portions of management plans. Author technical reports and professional peer-reviewed publications. Participate in meetings and conferences with other government, natural resource and private agencies, and university representatives. Conduct professional presentations at professional meetings, conferences, and workshops. Coordinate activities with involved collaborators, agencies, researchers, and regional biologists. Collect eggs from gravid turtles, and transport eggs to the Niabi Zoo for incubation. Conduct box turtle radio telemetry study. Analyze habitat use and survival using Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems. Conduct habitat analyses to identify release sites for head-started and translocated turtles. *Spearheading this ornate box turtle project which received over $200,000 in total funding involving partnerships and collaborations with volunteers, universities, and several inter- and intra- federal and state agencies.

What you like most about your job/position: 

Working as a Wildlife Biologist with the USFWS Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge has allowed me to participate in multilevel reciprocal mentoring. Additionally, I was able to work with FWS mentors to help restore, enhance, and protect important habitats for wildlife, including several threatened and endangered species that call our refuge home. Currently, I am working with the FWS to help seal some of the leaks in the diversity pipelines. I have been fortunate to be a part of collaborative grants and projects to help expose underrepresented students to field biology through reciprocal mentoring opportunities with the goal of encouraging these students to pursue wildlife biology and related degrees and careers with the FWS. Thanks to my personal, academic, and professional mentors, whom all have helped me get my foot-in-the-door with the FWS, I have found a place I can call home - The US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System. I also love the outreach and educational components and opportunities that my job entails. I am able to successfully interact or collaborate on projects with university faculty, professional natural resource agencies, private land owners, non-government organizations, and professional organizations. Additional partnerships include natural resource agencies, citizen and volunteer groups, and non-profit governmental agencies. Although I am no longer residing in Ames and attending Iowa State University, I am still in close contact with ISU faculty, students and other staff. I am still collaborating on several research projects with Dr. Fred Janzen and his lab which are being conducted on our Refuge. I am also actively involved in recruiting ISU students to pursue careers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ISU MANRRS chapter, and the George Washington Carver Internship Program, along with mentoring undergraduate students and high school students affiliated with the Turtle Camp Research and Education in Ecology (TREE) Program of ISU. The fundamental goal of TREE is to immerse traditionally under-represented high school and undergraduate students in an atmosphere of professional ecological and biological education and research. Foreseeable outcomes of this immersion program are enhanced student interest in ecological and biological careers, and improved appreciation and understanding of the importance of ecological research. An additional broad goal of TREE is to educate student participants in the importance of conservation, and to give them the tools and confidence to share this knowledge with their peers, families and educators. Several alums of the program have gone on to pursue biology and ecology related degrees at ISU.

What advice would you give to current students: 

1) Do not be afraid to step outside of your normal comfort zone. Expand your horizons. Leaving my hometown of Chicago, to temporarily reside in Delaware in pursuit Bachelor of Science degree in Animal and Poultry Science was one of the best decisions that I have made thus far. DSU expressed a sincere interest in me which afforded me the opportunity to intern with Michigan State University, Purdue University, and travel to Namibia Africa to conduct conservation and biodiversity work. 2) Don't be afraid to ask questions, even if they seem stupid. There is no such thing as a stupid question, if the answer to the question will advance your understanding for a particular subject. 3) Find a mentor! My mentors have been influential by providing knowledge, motivation, advice and counseling, and encouragement, which has helped me mature and advance in my profession and career. Mentor programs such as the Ecological Society of America's SEEDS Program, and The Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science program have been very influential in my academic and professional development. I do not know where I would be today had it not been for these programs!!!


Favorite ISU Classes:
Advanced Animal Behavior Evolutionary Ecology Statistical Methods for Researchers (Stats 401) Special Topics in Evolutionary Biology Population Ecology